Where to live in France - which region is best for you

Brittany and Provence are very different to each other, the Dordogne is different to the Alsace, and so on. France is a very big, diverse, country. Probably your choice of area will be decided by your previous visits to France and your knowledge of particular locations, and also by weather and house prices. Proximity to transport connections will be important if you will be leaving the country often or hope to entice your children to visit.

The presence of 'low cost airports' such as Bergerac on the Dordogne attract expat communities - but remember that the smaller airports can close as quickly as they open if there is insufficient traffic.

All areas of France have nice properties, some nicer than others (for me Normandy and Dordogne/Lot-et-Garonne win the 'historical architecture' prize but others will disagree). The important thing is to narrow down your area before starting to search for properties - it is not practical or possible to compare an apartment in Biarritz with a farmhouse in the Massif central, even if they do cost the same.

I have my own preferences - Normandy, Lot-et-Garonne and the Midi-Pyrenees for example. Similarly, for me the Atlantic coast of south-west France is far more attractive than the overbuilt coastline of Languedoc and the Mediterranean.  Provence is very beautiful, but there is too much new development in many areas and it is very busy in the summer, and the Alps are magnificent but I prefer to visit mountains than live in them. But your priorities and personal taste will be different.

You can quickly judge from property prices on the internet whether, in principle, your choice of area will be possible for you. These only provide a guideline, but it will be clear that in some areas you get much more for your money than in other areas.

We list thousands of properties for sale in France - see Property to buy in France

If your own experiences have not already determined your location remember it is easier to return to the UK if you are in the north of France or near other good transport links. If you want to run gites you will need to be in an established tourist region, or be confident that you can attract visitors.

If you want to avoid other expats you might like to conside more unusual areas such as Correze in the Limousin or Jura in north-east France. If you are looking for a large exatriate community you will find these more easily in certain long-established expat destinations such as Brittany and the Dordogne. The town of Eymet in the Dordogne is especially known as a centre for expats living in France.

Is the sun always shining in France?

You do also need to consider the weather, if that is a factor for you. Elsewhere on this site there is an overview of the climate in France, but average temperatures and general guidelines are not always a good indication of the realities, and many regions have their own micro-climates.

The Poitou-Charentes coast, for example, is claimed to get more days of sunshine a year than anywhere else in France except the Mediterranean coast. France north of the Loire has weather reasonably similar to the UK - changeable, sometimes wet, rarely very cold. Much of the south of France, although warm-hot in the summer, gets quite cold in the winter - frequently colder than the UK.

If at all possible you should try and visit your chosen region in winter and spring as well as in summer. France really is a different place during the winter.


Related sections: An introduction: Buy property in France
how to choose a region to move to: Which region of france to live in
How to actually Find a property
How to finance the deal: Finances of buying in France
Completing on your purchase:Close the deal