My Top 5 French Cities Ideal for Expats and the Benefits They Give

My Top 5 French Cities Ideal for Expats and the Benefits They Give

France turned out to be one of the best places to visit – the most popular tourist destination. Going a bit further we have to admit that the love for this country has been growing continuously. More and more people not only visit but also decide to move here! They always complain about the French language being very difficult to learn, about the bureaucracy, red tape, ancient law, lack of flexibility, taxes, high cost of living, strict rules and mostly so rude and distant French people who cannot speak English (check out for the French stereotypes which I explain in one of my other article) But we cannot resist France…we easily fall in love for this country because the French language is beautiful, the art and history is fascinating, the food is very interesting and tasting, the cheese and wine cannot be tasted and found anywhere else then in France, the same is with the croissants and baguettes. We love France for its freedom, eccentric & chic people, for the Paris & fashion, for the South of France and sea, for mountains & skiing,  for stunning landscapes, big cities and amazing countryside, for the weather and all those French kisses we are promised …I could carry on as this is actually me who moved here and still loving it. I am amazed by France and I enjoy discovering it every day! So yes, I can confirm it is a great place and I can recommend coming over & settling in France…but where? Well, how about I will present you My Top 5 French Cities Ideal for Expats and the Benefits They Give? Here You Are…Can You Add Anything Else?


  1. Toulouse in Haute – Garonne (Mid Pyrenees)
  • Location: an ideal geographical location, with the Pyrenees mountains and the Mediterranean Sea approximately 150 kilometers away
  • The climate: warm Mediterranean summers with average highs of 27°C, lows of around 15°C and mild winters with temperatures above 3°C.
  • The size – the fourth largest city in France with over 350,000 inhabitants
  • Education – access to the best schools in France with the one of the oldest University’s in the world . There are many important institutions such as the Université Toulouse 1 Capitole, and a number of prestigious engineering schools, such as École Nationale de L’Aviation Civile, and the Institut National des Sciences Appliquées.
  • Transport: the network of metro, tram, and bus and on top of that there are city’s free and eco-friendly electric buses operating
  • Local life: many things to do in the area of culture with the museums and churches to activities such as skiing in the Pyrenees
  • Woking: many opportunities especially in the aerospace industry which provides more than 120,000 jobs and there are plans to create 40,000 new jobs over the next 20 years.
  • Economy: driven by the city’s collection of aerospace and aviation companies, most of which can be found in an area known as Aerospace Valley. Since the beginning in 2005,the government has invested in this about 204 million euro. In addition, many of the Airbus models are manufactured in Toulouse, such as the A320, A330, A340, and A380

    By Benh LIEU SONG – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0 
  1. Rennes, Ille-et-Vilaine, Brittany
  • Location: a city in the east of Brittany, its capital, located at the confluence of the Ille and the Vilaine rivers,  on the European atlantic arc, 50 km from the English Channel. It is one of France’s greenest cities  
  • Size: mid-sized city in France, the 10th largest French city of about 700,000 inhabitants
  • Local life –  vibrant place which is a real hub of culture, packed full of art galleries, museums and theatres. There are two parts of the city – the old town and the new town which are separated by the beautiful Vilane River.
  • Working: the new town offers a thriving economy and many job opportunities. The unemployment rate dropped and the city has been named as an ideal place for starting a business thanks to mainly the high quality of training the city’s universities offer and the “eco-system” for creating a business
  • Economy: this small town has been becoming one of the most “competing” European cities, growing it’s potential among big French players
  • Education:  a lively university and student city open to foreigners
  • People: welcoming French and their openness creates great opportunity for the expat community
  • Transport: compact city center in Rennes is easily walkable, and the efficient metro system is operating so you don’t really need a car here. On top of that the transport links have really improved, especially the Rennes airport has been  developing quickly

    CC BY-SA 3.0
  1. Lille, Nord department, Hauts-de-France
  • Location: a city in northern France, in French Flanders, located on the Deûle River, near France’s border with Belgium
  • Size: the 4th largest city of France with the population of about 227, 000 people within its administrative limits
  • City Life: strong Flemish heritage, great food (both the French and Belgium cuisines), friendly locals, boutiques and galleries, puppet shows, number of green spaces, with the Parc Les Poussins  etc
  • Transport: one of the most advanced in the whole country, with a network of buses, trams and a driverless metro system. The city is well-connected, with an international airport (15 minutes car drive). On top of that it has the third largest river port in France and Eurostar terminal (direction:  Paris, London, Brussels and the southern border)
  • Working: a lot of jobs in the commerce sector, mechanical or textile engineering. On top of that the english-speaking nannies and au pairs are generally in high demand in France, as well as school English teachers
  • Economy: shaped by commerce and trade, with the importance of the food industry as well as mechanical and textile engineering

    By Velvet – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0
  1. Bordeaux, Gironde department, Bordeaux  
  • Location: situated in the Aquitaine region of south-west France, on the River Garonne and close to the Atlantic Ocean. It is close to the Europe’s gems, including Arcachon Bay ; the Pyrenees; the coastal resort of La Rochelle; and Biarritz on the Bay of Bis
  • Size: the 9th largest French city with the population of 239,399 inhabitants
  • Climate: an oceanic climate, with warm summers (average temperature of 20°C)  and mild winters (the average temperature of 6°C)
  • City life: is a lively city, with bustling nightlife venues and more relaxed bistros on the riverfront. The city has definitely a lot to offer and in 2015 it has been named the European Best Destinations. Bordeaux is home to many museums and art galleries showcasing its rich history, including the Natural History Museum and the Gallery of Fine Arts. The classical and neoclassical architecture seem to be everywhere you look in central Bordeaux, and 350 buildings have UNESCO World Heritage status
  • Transport: excellent local system of tramway and electric bus service. On top of that – the ferry which operates between the western and eastern parts of the city. The city has a big airport with many international connections and a big train station, Gare Saint Jean which link to the main French cities.
  • Education: there is a big choice of schools and main international one (French & English) which offers places for 130 students. The higher education is well developed and the University includes even the College of Science and Technology and the Institute of Vine and Wine Science.
  • Working: there are many international companies which offer jobs for expats. The city has become a much more business-friendly city. Entrepreneurship is encouraged, with the offer of government-funded business start-up and development grants.
  • Economy:  very diverse. There are traditional sectors such as agriculture, fishing and wine, as well as new ones –  aeronautics (employing 20,000 people in the area), electronics, telecommunications. On top of that tourism plays an important role in the city’s economy and wine reminds the  lifeblood of the local economy.  The region currently has some 287,000 acres of vineyards, 10,000 wine-producing châteaux, 13,000 grape growers, and an annual production of approximately 960
    By Xellery (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
  1. Lyon, Rhone department, the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region
  • Location: situated in the east-central France, about 470 km from Paris and 320 km from Marseille
  • Size: the third largest city in France with the population of 500,715 inhabitants
  • Climate: warm long summer months and mild winters, ideal!
  • Local life: one of the best cultural and gastronomic locations in the world, it’s the food capital of France with many great restaurants and the real Pop of Gastronomy! The city was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1998 for it’s old town with stunning architecture, art galleries and numerous museums. Lyon also plays a vital role in the history of cinema and organizes the annual light festival ‘Fête des Lumières’
  • Education: the excellent schools and education establishments, the city has ones of the best in France Universities
  • Working: growing economy which continues to develop with various industries offering plenty of job opportunities
  • Economy: the city is the most attractive and dynamic French city in terms of its economy. It is one of Europe’s most important banking centers, while the chemical, pharmaceutical, software and biotech industries play also very important role. The city has experienced the rise of the game design, internet services and software industries. On top of that the city’s start-up sector has been ranked among the most innovative in the world
  • Transport: very good operating network of metro, tram, buses and trains. The city’s two major railway stations are Lyon Part-Dieu and Lyon Perrache, both of which are used by the high-speed TGV train. The Lyon-Saint Exupéry Airport is an important regional transportation hub, providing access to the entire Rhône-Alpes region. On top of that, Lyon has a number of important French highways — such as the A6 (to Paris); A7 (to Marseille); A42 (to Geneva); and A43 (to Grenoble) which go through the city.
By Instant – Shots 

Does it sound promising? Does it sound tempting? Are you now convinced to move to France and settle in? Did you choose a city that you like the most? Or maybe you know about some other places which seem ideal for expats and you can suggest? I heard about the Marseille, Montpellier, Nantes, Strasbourg, St-Etienne which are highly recommended for expats and on the other hand I would highly not recommend Paris, Nice – too many tourists! Do you agree? Please do share the benefits that France and its cities bring us. It would be really interesting to find out how welcoming you see France and the French Cities! Thanks!


I am a Polish girl who felt in love with Lyon from the first sight! Jadorelyon is my way of exploring France, the French way of life, their cuisine, sharing the experience from visiting beautiful places in France. Jadorelyon is my new way of adding some Polish influence into French lives and watching on how they like it...

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