Ok it doesn’t sound like a particularly sensible question in the middle of November with a recession setting in (again) but our website statistics show that lots of people are asking that exact question.
Perhaps it is winter setting in that reminds people that they quite like the sunshine? Perhaps the recent TV programmes about expat life in the Dordogne have reminded people that actually expats in France don’t have it so bad? Or perhaps the ‘grass still looks greener’ in France than in the UK…
Whatever the reason, lots of you are interested in knowing the best places to live in France.
Unfortunately its a tricky question to answer without knowing what someone is looking for: sunshine, the presence of other expats, the absence of other expats, remote rural life or action packed city life, an active local community and a town where the spoken French sounds at least a little bit like the French we learned at school?
Of course all these options exist in France – but not usually all in the same place. If you don’t mind driving 20 kilometres to take the children to school or buy milk and you don’t care much about the weather or your neighbours your choices are almost unlimited.
Despite all these obstacles here are a few not very helpful and extremely stereotyped suggestions:
- If you want to be self sufficient and generate your own electricity while living in the sunshine head for the Aude department of Languedoc-Roussillon. I don’t remember ever going there without being blown off my feet on a hilltop or standing in a sandstorm on the beach. Houses that would have otherwise have great views need to plant 10 metre high hedges around them to stop the cocktails being blown in the pool.
- If you want remote tranquility or perhaps want to play the drums at 3 am every morning head for the centre of the Massif Central and ask for somewhere rural. You’ll only get three days of sunshine a year so you won’t be wasting money on suncream either. You should get a discount on your volvic water though.
- If you like getting stuck in a traffic jam for an hour on your way to a small pebble beach with standing room only we can recommend just the place on the Riviera. In fact any number of places. Ideally you will live a little way inland so you need to drive slowly for another hour along the narrowest mountain road you ever saw to get home again afterwards, followed by irate locals who want to pass you at high speed on a hairpin bend.
- If you like gazing across vast fields of beautiful yellow sunflowers you can’t go wrong in Poitou-Charentes. Unfortunately sunflowers only flower for about two weeks of the year and the rest of the time you will be looking across fields of earth, but I’m sure you’ll think it’s worth it.
- If you like picturesque villages, pretty coastal scenery and a good choice of beaches you should head for Brittany. Unfortunately it will often be cold and raining when you are on the beach and your umbrella might get more use than your sun hat but nowhere is perfect.
- If you like having foie gras and confit de canard in every restaurant you go to come and join us in Dordogne and the south-west of France. However if you like something unrecognisable but very unhealthy looking at every meal you will need to move to Alsace. Just don’t ask what it is you are eating or you won’t want it.
So by a process of elimination I suggest either the Jura department in the north or Correze department in the south if you don’t care about beaches, and Deauville in Normandy in the north or Biarritz in the south if you do. If anyone has any more useful advice please let us know!
PS only joking Lot-et-Garonne is still the best place to live in France!