The best places to retire in France in 2023


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France is a popular country to retire in and it has hundreds of desirable locations that check the boxes on your retirement wish list. France was blessed with a great variety of geographies, climates, and cities, towns, and villages, so you’re sure to find the best place to retire in France.

With 3,500 miles (5,500 km) of coastline with dramatic cliffs and golden sandy beaches, the country is traversed by mighty rivers and has imposing mountain scenery in the French Alps, Pyrenees and Vosges. There are large, vibrant cities ideal for foreigners, including Paris — the most favorite of them all –, as well as pretty medieval villages snuggling among vineyards.

France is definitely a wonderful place to enjoy your retirement years.  If you are living on your retirement income and are looking for somewhere not quite as expensive or busy as Paris, France has many affordable places to live in.

Let’s explore the best places to retire in France, depending on your preferences: 

1. Retiring in a large city in France

Paris is the first choice with many American and British retirees. It offers the best of everything: the quintessential French lifestyle, entertainment, culture, world-class dining, the best shopping you can dream of, and un-rivaled class and beauty.

Because of its size and diversity, there are so many great neighborhoods in Paris to live in, from affluent neighborhoods for those in search of a high-standard lifestyle, to areas rich in parks and greenery for active bodies and minds, and more affordable but vibrant districts for artists and creatives.

    Paris, France

    But if the high cost of living in Paris is prohibitive, there are a number of other beautiful French cities that are among the best places to retire in France.

    These include Lyon, Nice, Lyon, and Marseille. The great advantage of choosing to live in a city is that everything is on hand including good shopping, a choice of restaurants, and plenty of cultural events.

    Another major bonus of city life is that there is usually a good public transport network which means that having a car may prove unnecessary – which can definitely prove a bonus with limited parking and the challenges of driving in the city too. Another big plus when opting for city life is that healthcare facilities are usually excellent and close at hand.

    Most housing in the heart of the city (whether you choose to rent or buy) is in apartment buildings. If you would like a house with a garden, this is going to be easier to find on the outskirts of the city, and certainly at a more affordable price.

    All the French cities have distinctive characters and so choose the ones that fit your lifestyle when thinking about places to retire.

    Bordeaux in the southwest of the country is world famous as the center of one of the most important wine-growing regions in the world. It is a compact city, so much of it can be reached on foot. Just 20 minutes from the city center is Merignac, its international airport.

    La Bourse square in Bordeaux, France

    Montpellier is another ideal city to explore on foot and it is steeped in history as its medical school is the oldest in the world. Montpellier is situated in the south of France so it is within easy reach of beautiful beaches too.

    Montpellier city in France

    The small green city of Pau stands close to the Pyrenees and offers spectacular views to its residents. There are palaces, museums and a castle to visit. The border with Spain is less than 60 miles (100 kilometers) away, for fun weekend breaks in St Sebastien.

    Retiring in beautiful Normandy and Brittany

    Situated in northern France, both of these regions are beautiful, but do experience plenty of weather surprises. Residents of Brittany say that you can experience all four seasons in a single day.

    Nevertheless, both are among the best places to retire in France and offer a relaxed lifestyle and excellent food. The great news is that you can also find good real estate deals, especially if you are prepared to do some work on the property. If you’re willing to renovate, you can pick up a good-sized property for under €50,000 ($53,000).


    For those who want to easily visit the UK and British retirees wanting to visit family, there is the added bonus of being close to the Channel ports and Channel Tunnel.

    Normandy is known for its rich history and the famous Normandy beaches. A popular region to retire in, Normandy has an attractive countryside dotted with farmsteads and villages. Its best feature however is its coastline dotted with numerous pretty fishing villages, which many expats call home.

    View From The Garden To The Monet Villa In Giverny In Normandy France

    It also has rich agricultural land with rivers and canals and lovely weekly farmers’ markets held in the different towns. Getting around isn’t quite as easy as in the main towns and cities, so it is good to have your own wheels.

    Retiring in the lovely Nouvelle-Aquitaine region

    Situated in southwest France, this region is the largest in France and it offers several great retirement choices. The Dordogne, with its numerous pretty villages and rivers, has long been a popular retirement area for expats.

    Charente-Maritime is the peninsula of land that stretches along the Gironde estuary and is a good choice for those who enjoy walking, cycling and delicious seafood. There are the pretty islands of Ré and Oléron to explore in the mouth of the estuary too.

    Further inland, the towns of Cognac and Angouleme are both popular with expats as they offer reasonably priced housing and a variety of leisure pursuits. Lot-et-Garonne, further east is the area sitting on these two mighty rivers. In addition to affordable housing, some great markets and numerous cycling/hiking trails, this area offers excellent fishing and boating opportunities.

    If you’re looking for a more “off the grid” lifestyle, further south, heading towards Pau and the Pyrenees, Landes is a vast area of sparsely populated forest, dotted with small communities, often without even a village store.

    The Dordogne

    Retiring in relaxing Burgundy

    Burgundy is a large region on the eastern side of central France. It covers a large area and comprises four departments. Expats and foreign retirees who live there believe it is among the best places to retire in France.

    This area is known for its excellent wines and numerous châteaux. Its most popular cities include Beaune and Dijon. Additionally, Burgundy has a number of attractive medieval towns including Halon-sur-Saône, Autun and Tournus, just to name a few.

    There are some lovely houses to buy and rent throughout Burgundy. The local architecture is a distinctive half-timber style. Burgundy is an affordable region to retire in. For instance, rentals start at about €700 a month ($740).


    Retiring in the glorious south

    The south of France is definitely not the cheapest part of France to choose, but it is one of the best places to retire. Its greatest attribute is the climate, basking in 330 days of sunshine per year.

    Nice was the first town in the area to attract the gentry from northern Europe at the end of the 19th century, as it was felt that the climate was perfect. Ever since, Nice on the Côte d’Azur (French Riviera) became a popular winter retreat for the rich, famous and even royalty.

    Today, Nice remains as popular as ever because its wonderful climate is so invigorating. It has beautiful sandy beaches you can enjoy almost year-round. For creative spirits, the daylight is exceptionally clear, lending a clarity to the colors they choose for their canvas.


    Besides Nice, Cannes, Port Grimaud and St Tropez are all charming retirement destinations and attract the rich and famous of France and the rest of Europe every year.

    Provence is another one of the best places to retire in France. It is a really popular area, situated in south-east France, close to the country’s border with Italy. Provence is a beautiful mixture of lavender fields, vineyards, orange blossom and olive groves.

    There are numerous medieval villages that are very picturesque and popular towns, including Aix-en-Provence, Arles and Avignon. This region definitely sums up the best France has to offer: glorious summers, mild winters, the Mediterranean, excellent food and fine wine.

    Property prices are not the cheapest, but you can find lower prices if you opt to live in one of the villages, however, speaking passable French is a must. Provence is popular with American, British and Australian retirees who love this area. There is a number of expat clubs offering a great variety of activities.

    Provence, France

    If you would enjoy somewhere cheaper, with a similar climate, Occitanie-Languedoc-Roussillon lies west of Provence. It offers more affordable housing options and a lower cost of living but is still close to the sparkling waters of the Mediterranean.

    This is a beautiful area of diverse countryside with rolling hills and further inland, the Cevannes mountains. The region’s towns include Montpellier, Nîmes and the dramatic fortified UNESCO-listed town of Carcassonne.

    Knowing exactly where to choose to retire in France can be really difficult, no matter how much research you do in advance. Many people retiring to France find it easiest to choose an area and to take a short-term lease, there so that they can decide whether they have made the right choice.

    There are so many points to consider when planning to relocate to France, but ideas are never ‘set in stone’. If you embrace the spirit of adventure, you will soon find the perfect location to call ‘home’  in France for your retirement.

    This article originally appeared on MyDolceCasa and was syndicated by MediaFeed.

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    The best places to live in France for English speakers

    The best places to live in France for English speakers

    France has long been a firm favorite with many nationalities who choose to make it their home. France is particularly popular with the British and Dutch, who find it easy to travel home to see family and friends. Many of them live in areas that have long been known as the best places in France for English speakers. France is also popular with Americans, Australians, Portuguese, Spanish, and Poles who enjoy the French style of living.

    France is a huge country, so it definitely has something to offer everyone. It has a diverse countryside with more than 2,000 miles of beautiful coastline and much of it enjoys warm sunny weather. Having said that, winter lovers are drawn to the areas that get good snowfall as a range of winter sports. There are contrasting lifestyles to choose from – either the vibrancy of city life or the slower pace of rural communities. Wherever you choose to live in France, you can buy fresh produce in the local market and enjoy excellent wines. If you are looking for the best places in France to live for English-speaking expats, we selected the top spots you should consider.


    In most parts of France (except the center of Paris and the much sought-after areas in the South of France), real estate prices are lower than in the UK, US, Netherlands, and many other countries. If you are good at DIY renovations, there are some real bargains on the property market.

    • When you are registered in the French system, you can apply for your Carte Vitale. This is a health insurance card that covers basic health care and reimbursement of a large percentage of medical costs. The French health system is very good. The frequent question is ‘can I live in France without speaking French’ and in most hospitals and clinics there are doctors and nurses who speak English.
    • To own a car in France is recommended, but if you don’t there is an excellent rail network including the high-speed TGV trains that operate between the main cities. There are local bus routes that vary from one area to another, but for longer journeys between the cities and into Spain there are low-cost coaches including Flixbus and Ouibus.
    • If you speak French you will be able to settle anywhere and if you are prepared to learn the language, you will be able to immerse yourself in local life and make everyday living that much easier. French lessons are widely available, many of them in Anglo-French groups which are great fun!


    If you are planning to move to France, choosing a city for your new home will certainly make things easier. English is much more widely spoken in the cities because they have young populations. English is the main foreign language taught to students aged 11 years and upwards. It is more likely that there will be an Anglo-French club or association that you can join. These are great fun and the perfect way to learn useful tips about the locality and to make your first French friends.


    For more than 100 years, the beautiful city of Nice, which overlooks the sea in the south-eastern corner of France, has been welcoming wealthy expats who enjoy its year-round warm sunny climate. The construction of its famous Promenade des Anglais was funded by wealthy expats and since then it has been viewed as the best place to live in France for English speakers.

    Nice is the capital of the French Riviera, with a strong Italian influence and a real mix of nationalities. There is plenty to see and do including museums, art galleries and restaurants serving its famous regional dishes. The region produces good wines – in particular rosé. For those who want to travel, it has an international airport and Italy is a short drive away. Nice is certainly one of the best places in France for British retirees, but like Paris, real estate comes with a hefty price tag!


    These two delightful towns are situated in southern France and are both quickly becoming a good choice of where to live in France if you are English. Although they both enjoy good weather and have easy access to the beaches, neither of them is that popular with tourists either – they really are a well-kept secret!

    Narbonne has a delightful market where you can choose what meat or fish you would like to eat and get it cooked at one of the restaurants! It has a fascinating history and a good cultural scene with music festivals and dramatic productions and lovely walks along the canal. Montpelier is charming with plenty of history to discover and winding streets to explore. Like in many parts of France, a huge number of properties for sale have their own swimming pools. An added attraction for this area is that there is a good rail link to Toulouse and Bezier Airports which are both served by a number of low-cost airlines such as EasyJet and Ryanair.


    This particularly picturesque area in southwest France is nicknamed ‘Dordogneshire’ as it really is a popular place with English-speaking expats!  It really is a delightful part of France, home to ten of the prettiest villages in France and a lovely view around nearly every corner! There is a huge number of expats living in this region that enjoys nearly 200 days of sunshine each year. In some of the market towns like Eymet, it is sometimes hard to hear any French voices! It really is one of the best places to live in France for English speakers.

    Dordogne is a good place to consider as there are many properties for sale or rent  ranging from modest apartments to chateaux. Some of the shops advertise that their staff speak English and there are several that import all the favorite UK or US food products such as Heinz Baked Beans and Colmans mustard! There are a number of different expat clubs to join and for those who are feeling homesick, one of the restaurants in Eymet serves fish n’ chips on a Friday evening! Golf and horse riding are popular in the area as well as canoeing and swimming. For those who prefer a pleasant walk in the country, there are plenty of opportunities although a sport that is definitely gaining is exploring on an electric bike.

    Importantly, Bordeaux international airport is accessible, as well as Bergerac, which is a smaller regional airport used by several low-cost airlines.


    Nicknamed the ‘pink city’ because of the color of its buildings, Toulouse is the 4th largest city in France and is situated in the southwest. Toulouse is large and diverse with more than a million residents. Economically, the city is doing well. As well as being a cultural hub, and hosting many concerts of different genres, Toulouse is very much a working city. It is best known for its technology and aerospace industries and is where the Airbus passenger aircraft is made.

    Toulouse is a great choice for expats as its international airport makes it easy for expats to return home or travel abroad. For those wanting to work, there are the usual job opportunities for expats plus specialist openings in aeronautics, engineering, electronics and biotechnology. It is without a doubt one of the best cities in France for English-speaking expats.

    The city’s geographical location makes it easy to reach the Mediterranean and Atlantic oceans and the Pyrenees which are perfect for hiking and skiing. It is also easy to visit Spain from here.


    Situated in south-eastern France is the third largest city, Lyon, which stands on the confluence of the rivers Rhone and Saone and has a sunny Mediterranean climate. Lyon is a great choice for English-speaking expats as it is vibrant with a rich history and culture and its residents are warm and welcoming. Lyon is the largest industrial city so it is ideal for those looking to work with openings in several industries ranging from catering to technology and logistics. Lyon is a lively city as it has a large student population – many of the foreign students and this helps to make it one of the best cities in France for English-speaking expats.  A bonus is that the city is conveniently situated for those who want to explore Italy and Switzerland.


    Located just across the English Channel in north-western France, Brittany has long been the best place in France to live for English speakers. Brittany is large with a rugged coastline that overlooks the Atlantic. This part of France has its own micro-climate which is cooler and similar to southern England.

    Brittany is very affordable and rents are lower as far as food prices because many fruits and vegetables are grown locally. House prices are also very attractive in Brittany. All of the main towns including Brest, Rennes, Saint Malo, and Dinan are popular and they are among the best places to live in France for expats. They are particularly ideal for British expats as it is just a quick hop across the Channel by ferry or through the tunnel to visit family.

    Philippe Paternolli/iStock

    Paris is very cosmopolitan and because of this, it is the best place to live in France for English speakers. Situated just north of the center of the country, Paris has nearly 30,000 foreigners living in the capital, and this definitely makes life easier. However, the Parisians still expect you to make an effort to speak French and when you do, they will happily reply to you in English if it is easier!

    If you want to work, there are certainly job opportunities for English speakers in Paris with the most common being teaching English, working as a tour guide and working in bars/restaurants. If you are highly qualified you can secure an excellent job – if you are from the EU, EEA or Switzerland you don’t need a work permit. The main problem is finding somewhere to live in the capital. Most people live in apartments rather than houses and they are expensive and the cost of living in Paris is higher than in most of the country.

    Where to live in France if you are English is certainly a question that is difficult to answer as there are so many attractive areas to enjoy and it will take some careful research to find which one for you is the best place for English speakers. Whether you are British, American or Australian and planning to move or retire to France, you will be delighted that you made the decision to do so.

    While planning your move to France it is important to know that if you are Australian you may need a visa and as of November 2023 you will need electronic tagging authorization. Americans are required to apply for a long-term visa if they would like to stay in France longer than 90 days. Since January 2021, following Brexit, all British passport holders now have to apply for a long-stay visa, as France is in the Schengen zone…but the hurdles are worth jumping!

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