Best places to retire to in France

Best places to retire to in France

With its unbeatable wine and cheese and laissez-faire attitude, there’s nowhere better to retire than France. But which cities are best for growing old in? Here’s the top 10

While many retirees flock to the French countryside, others may want to stay close to the shops, restaurants and entertainment that a city can offer. Now a recent study from comparison website Market Inspector has revealed which cities in France offers the best quality of life for retirees. The study looked at French cities with a population of over 100,000 inhabitants and scored them in categories including access to healthcare, cost of living, public transport and cultural activities. These are the top 10…

1. Limoges, Haute-Vienne , Nouvelle-Aquitaine

The average house price in Limousin’s capital is just €137,500, but that’s not the only reason it comes top of the list for retirees. The city’s myriad museums and art galleries (which host lots of exhibitions on Limoges’ porcelain) mean that you’ll never be stuck for something to do on a rainy day. But come to think of it, you probably won’t see much rain living in Limoges – Limousin is one of the sunniest regions in France.

2. Le Mans, Sarthe, Pays-de-la-Loire

Le Mans may be most famous for its 24-hour car race, but there’s lots more that appeals to those who want to take a break from life in the fast lane. The capital of Sarthe is home to magnificent parks and gardens, as well as plenty of green spaces dotted throughout the city. For those with green fingers, the annual open garden event in October will surely be a highlight. If you ever need to pop back to the UK, London is just four hours away on the Eurostar.

3. Nice, Alpes-Maritimes, Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur

Abundant in sun, sea and sand, it’s hardly surprising that Nice is one of the best places to retire. With some excellent markets, mornings could be spent picking out fresh ingredients from local producers, before enjoying an apéro and a lunch of salade niçoise in the Old Town. In the evening, you could always live it up at the casino or, simply take a sunset stroll along the Promenade des Anglais.


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4. Bordeaux, Gironde, Nouvelle-Aquitaine

If retirement means drinking more wine, then where better than Bordeaux to enjoy your golden years ? Not only is the south-western city surrounded by vineyards, it is also home to the wine museum Cité du Vin, not to mention countless restaurants and bistros where you can guarantee to wine and dine until your heart is content. A stroll along the pedestrianised boulevards is perfect after sumptuous meals, as is a walk along the River Garonne that takes in the city’s grand architecture.

5. Perpignan, Pyrénées-Orientales, Occitanie

The vibrant city of Perpignan is as much Catalan as it is French and it’s the perfect place if you want to let your hair down when you retire. It’s proximity to Spain means there are lots of fiestas and chances to celebrate with song and dance. For days when you want some peace and quiet, steal away to the Pyrénées Mountains or the Mediterranean Sea; both on the doorstep.

6. Saint-Étienne, Loire, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes

Saint-Étienne has reinvented itself over the years as a centre of design innovation. In addition to lots of striking architecture, you can also while away afternoons in a selection of smaller art galleries. Of course the city is home to the famous football stadium; perfect if you like to cheer on a match or need some inspiration to start a five-a-side.

7. Caen, Calvados, Normandy

William the Conqueror commissioned many of Caen’s most famous sites, including the Château de Caen which now houses the Musée de Normandie and the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Caen. Seeing an exhibition here is an idyllic way to spend a day; followed by a stroll through the car-free Vieux Quarter with its lovely half-timbered buildings. Caen has a ferry port and an airport meaning it’s very easy to go back and forth from the UK.


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8. Nancy, Lorraine, Grand-Est

With its opulent squares and warren of restaurants, bars and bistros, Nancy is perfect for sitting back and watching the world go by. If you fancy stretching your legs, the city has lots of public parks and gardens. Lorraine’s capital also has the added advantage of being a 90-minute train journey from Paris.

9. Angers, Maine-et-Loire, Pays-de-la-Loire

Public green space makes up 14% of Angers, so it’s not surprising it was voted the most environmentally friendly city in France. For those who like to get about on two wheels, there are plenty of cycle lanes and the city also hosts two cycling events each year – La Loire à Velo and La Vélo Francette. Angers is also great for embracing France’s café culture – the bars, restaurants and cafés along the River Maine are great spots to meet up with friends.

10. Clermont-Ferrand, Puy-de-Dôme, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes

Auvergne’s capital mightn’t be the best known city in France, but that’s all part of its charm. Standing at the heart of the Puy-de-Dôme department, Clermont-Ferrand is one of the oldest French cities and is home to a Gothic cathedral and one of the finest Romanesque churches in the region. The city is a great base for exploring the surrounding countryside; the Parc Naturel Régional des Volcans d’Auvergne and Puy-de-Dôme are right on the doorstep.

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