- The romance. Whether you’re walking hand in hand through Montmartre or driving through the rustic charms of the Dordogne, France provides you with an accompanying atmosphere like nowhere else
- The cultural élan. Whether it’s art, fashion, music, sport: from Aznavour to Zidane the French have got it covered
- The cheese, the wine and the general appreciation of the good things in life
France’s best cities to live in
- Paris. When it comes to metropolitan bustle and an icon around every corner, few places in the world can compete
- Lyon. Centrally situated, this medieval city and cultural hotspot is France’s self-appointed gastronomic centre
- Nantes in Brittany was named European Green Capital in 2013 and it’s easy to see why. With 250 km of rivers and streams and 100 parks, squares and municipal gardens it’s a refreshing city to live in
- Montpellier is an utterly charming, yet-to-be-spoiled city with a most agreeable southern climate
- Toulouse is known as the ‘pink city’ thanks to the distinctive stone used in many of its buildings. As the home of ‘Aerospace Valley’, it’s also a boom town for engineering jobs
The cost of living in France
It’s very difficult to generalise but on the whole, life is more expensive in France than the UK, especially when the pound is in the doldrums. Except in the city centres, property and rent can be cheaper than in the UK. Wine is cheaper, too.
Your right to live in France
While the UK and France are both members of the EU, you have the absolute right to live in France. So, hurry.
Public services in France
The French healthcare system is excellent. The key to accessing it is the coveted carte vital, the healthcare social security card. Getting one will take you somewhere between six months and seven years. Unlike the UK, the French system is based on a system of reimbursement: you pay for your treatment and claim the cost back from the state. Generally, only around 70% of the costs are reimbursed so you need to top up your cover with mutuelle insurance.
Public transport in France
France does public transport very well. Six French cities have a metro – Paris, Lyon, Marseille, Lille, Toulouse and Rennes, and 26 have light rail or tram networks. The national railway system, SNCF, is one of the best in Europe in terms of reliability, safety and usage. It’s also one of the cheaper rail networks; book ahead to make substantial savings.
Taking your pet with you
Providing you plan ahead, there’s no need to leave your beloved cat or dog behind. Your pet needs to be microchipped with an ISO 11784/11785 compliant 15-digit pet microchip after which it must be vaccinated for rabies. If this is the first rabies vaccination after being chipped, your pet will need to wait 21 days before travelling. Have your vet update the EU Pet Passport. You’ll also need to sign a Declaration of Non-Commercial Transport to pledge that he or she is indeed a genuine pet.
Things you need to know about living in France
- The number one rule is: learn French and speak it, no matter how poorly. Your efforts will be appreciated
- It may take time and effort getting there but, once made, a French friend is often a friend for life
- As well as learning the language, learn the etiquette. For example, always give a cheery ‘bonjour’ when entering a shop and a ‘merci, au revoir’ on the way out
- Buy local. Wherever you end up settling, make it your first priority to find out where and when the local markets take place. The cheapest and freshest produce is here. And get your wine direct from the local winery
- Always carry cash, especially in rural France. Even these days, not all establishments take cards. And if you don’t carry a wad when browsing the stalls at one of France’s legendary flea markets, you will kick yourself. Guaranteed