Best Places in France To Retire

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France has everything that you could be looking for in a retirement destination, such as a colorful history and traditions, excellent healthcare, interesting culture, unspoiled countryside, a good climate, and, of course, the sophistication and glitter of Paris. But what are the best places in France to retire?

Here are the best places in France to retire:

  1. Bordeaux 
  2. Sarlat-la-caneda
  3. Montpellier
  4. Pau 
  5. Lyon 
  6. The Languedoc-Roussillon Region
  7. Toulouse
  8. Nice

If you value a relaxed lifestyle, good healthcare, and all of the modern conveniences you can have at home, France should be on your radar. Let’s take a closer look at each of these great places in France where you can retire to. 

1. Bordeaux

Although Paris is France’s crown jewel, the city of Bordeaux is a gleaming diamond in its own right. Located in southwest France’s famous wine-growing region, this ancient city has undergone a dramatic transformation in recent years. 

Much of Bordeaux city has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its beauty and history. 

Additionally, Bordeaux is a paradise for wine lovers, from world-renown estates to small cellars.

Bordeaux, located on the Atlantic coast, is close to several beautiful sandy beaches. The beaches in this area are naturally wild, with scrubby marshes, pines, and enormous dunes. 

The weather in Bordeaux is typically mild, with summers being neither hot nor cold. The average temperature in July, for instance, is only about 70°F ( 21.11°C) although the highs are around 79°F (26.11°C), while the average low in December is 43°F (6.11°C).

When compared to Paris, Bordeaux offers a good value for money, as it’s an excellent alternative to the capital’s high prices. Therefore, if you plan to retire in a city in France, this is one of the best options. 

You can find a well-furnished apartment to rent in the city’s center from €995 per month. The price decreases as you move away from the town center. 

2. Sarlat-La-Caneda

With around 11,000 people, this town sits at the center of the Dordogne region of Southern France. Sarlat-la-Caneda provides a large city convenience and activities in a small-town setting, making it an enchanting location to visit and an exciting place to call home as a retiree.

Narrow streets, occasionally interrupted by quiet squares, snake through the historical town, evoking romantic images of a small-town France. Sarlat also has rivers that quietly wind through forested valleys, castles guarding almost all hilltops, and caves with prehistoric paintings that draw visitors to the area.

Sarlat is more than just the quiet lanes and the medieval architecture. It’s easy to stay active in this city, whether climbing limestone cliffs, biking along country roads, or canoeing the rivers. Therefore, maintaining an active lifestyle during your sunset years won’t be difficult here.

The Holiday Music Festival, Fall Film Festival, and Summer Theater Festival highlight Sarlat’s artistic side. Throughout the year, the Cultural Center hosts performances and exhibitions.

In Sarlat, the local cuisine is just as good as the setting. The region is well known for its truffles, which add a delicate yet musky flavor to many local dishes. Many of the restaurants in this town serve foie gras, duck, and goose.

While prices have risen in recent years and low-cost rehabilitable structures are becoming more difficult to find, you can find village homes at a range of €360,000 to €3,900,000. 

Sarlat is located far enough from large cities, therefore offering a quiet, small-town life, but it’s also easily accessible to the major cities of southwest France. Both Toulouse and Bordeaux are approximately two hours away by car.

3. Montpellier

Montpellier sits on France’s warm, sunny southern coast, in the Languedoc Roussillon region, safely tucked between the Mediterranean Sea and the Cevennes mountain range. With about 253,000 people, including 70,000 students, this stands as France’s eighth-largest and fastest-growing city. 

Being home to France’s first and most famous medical school, Montpellier is known as a university town and embodies all the energy and liveliness you’d expect.

The city’s wide boulevards, in the historic center, are sprinkled with bars, restaurants, and cafes. They also host a variety of annual cultural events, from jazz concerts to international film festivals to flamenco exhibitions.

If you’re an art lover, you’ll appreciate the city’s numerous museums and galleries, including the well-known Fabre museum, which houses an extensive array of 17th-to-19th-century European art. 

When it comes to transportation, the bus system here is excellent, as is the tramway.

Montpellier is also a bike-friendly city, with more than 90 miles (144.84 km) of bike paths throughout the city, including 6 miles (9.66 km) that allow access to the beach.

Real estate prices are also reasonable, given the city’s proximity to the sea and its wide range of amenities. You can rent unfurnished one-bedroom apartments for €582 to $900 per month and two bedrooms starting at €1500 per month.

4. Pau

If you’re looking for a retirement alternative that’s affordable but still has a lot to offer, consider Pau. This is a beautiful French city of 80,000 people, merely a few miles from the Spanish border. Beautiful old villas and mansions line the streets, offering breathtaking views of the snow-capped Pyrenees. 

Pau experiences mild, wet winters and mild, warm summers. 

Summer temperatures range from 68-86°F (20-30°C), while winter temperatures hover around 54°F (12.22°C). With such weather, it’s easy to see why European nobles flocked to the city for holidays in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

Its location allows you to enjoy the best of both worlds, as the closest ski resorts are only 45 minutes away, and you can be at an Atlantic beach in an hour. Hiking, climbing, and cycling are all popular activities in the city. Pau is only second to Paris regarding Tour de France stages hosted.

The city is famous for its love of sports and is home to Europe’s first 18-hole golf course, which you can still play today. 

It has a Victorian-style clubhouse with a unique British vibe. Pau is well-known for its Jurançon, a local wine produced in 25 villages and towns. Nonetheless, the most well-known wine in Pau is the moelleux (sweet) white wine.

Pau also has a great hospital and other health centers, which is essential for a person in their old age who’ll often need medical care.

There’s an airport connecting flights worldwide, and the TGV (Train Grand Vitesse) trains running to Toulouse, Bordeaux, and Paris.

The property prices in Pau are relatively high compared to those of other cities of similar sizes in Aquitaine, such as Villeneuve, Agen, or Mont-de-Marsan. The average cost for a property in Pau is €2200 per square meter.

Pau is a university city, which means most of its inhabitants are students. As such, buy-to-let apartments, particularly one-bedroom studios, are popular investments. If you want to purchase a full-time retirement home, anticipate parting with €2,500 per square meter. 

However, you can buy apartments for less than €1,280 per square meter.

5. Lyon 

Lyon, located in the Rhone-Alps region of southern France, has a laid-back, almost languid vibe. This city has beautiful 18th-century buildings painted pink, orange, and peachy yellow and not one but two wide rivers. 

It’s the third-largest city in France, with 2.22 million people. 

Nonetheless, as you walk around Lyon, you may not feel the weight of these people. Lyon seems to be spacious, most likely due to its numerous parks, wide streets, and generous squares, not to mention two massive hills that offer incredible vistas that can reach as far as the Alps on a clear day.

Lyon has all the liveliness and benefits of a big city. With boutiques, cafes, galleries, theatres, museums, and an advanced transport system to get you to them all, you can never experience a shortage of things to do in this city.

Moreover, rental prices in this area are meager, particularly compared to those in Paris. A one-bedroom unfurnished apartment at the center of Lyon will probably cost you €800 per month, while a 2-bedroom apartment in one of the ‘chic’ neighborhoods of the city will cost you just under €1500 per month.

Finally, there’s the food. 

Lyon is probably the best known as the gastronomic capital of France. Excellent food is the lifeblood, culture, and tradition of Lyon. With so many amazing restaurants nearby, it’s easy to find a fantastic three-course meal in Lyon for under $30.

6. The Languedoc-Roussillon Region

The Languedoc is a delightful and charming region with an irresistible Mediterranean coastline right on your doorstep.

It has the same marvelous climate as Languedoc’s select and trendy neighbors, Côte d’Azur and Provence. However, it’s not as crowded, definitely much cheaper, and less glamorous than neighboring towns. 

Languedoc is between the Mediterranean Sea and the Midi-Pyrenees on the other side.

If you’re a hot weather enthusiast, the Languedoc climate is ideal. It experiences sunny skies and summers longer than you’ll experience in the UK, even during Indian summers.

Languedoc has relatively mild winters, but summers can and frequently get very hot, sometimes exceeding 104°F (40°C), with high humidity levels, causing changes that result in some mighty and dramatic storms. 

If you’re not a fan of sweltering weather, Languedoc may not be the best place for you. It’s, nonetheless, an excellent climate for grapes. 

Think again if you believe Bordeaux is the king of winemaking. The vineyards in Languedoc-Roussillon are three times larger than those in Bordeaux. During the 20th century, this region produced one out of every ten bottles of wine globally.

Living in France’s Languedoc-Roussillon region will allow you to enjoy a healthy Mediterranean diet that’s all local and fresh. With beautiful and cheap wine and fresh seafood, this region of France makes it very easy to live a very healthy Mediterranean lifestyle, which is great for any retiree.

The region is home to charming historic cities, including: 

  • Carcassonne, the former Roman regional capital of Narbonne.
  • Nimes, with its superb Roman remains.
  • Other smaller historic cities such as Agde.

The Languedoc-Roussillon is now home to eight international airports, making it a well-connected region. Your family can therefore easily visit you here, or you can conveniently fly to visit your family or friends in other places.

Paris is only three hours away by high-speed train, and Spain is only a couple of hours away by car.

There’s always something going on in the Languedoc-Roussillon region that’ll keep you entertained. Even the smallest neighborhood hosts at least one village fete or festival each year, with many hosting hundreds. 

Bastille Day in Narbonne and Carcassonne is one of the most important festivals and celebrations, marked with fantastic fireworks and lively celebrations.

The cost of purchasing or renting an apartment is relatively cheaper in this region than in other cities and towns in France. Renting a one-bedroom apartment will cost you around €350 per month while a two-bedroom starts from €400.

7. Toulouse

Toulouse, located halfway between the Mediterranean and Atlantic Seas, and a couple of blocks away from the Spanish border, has a lively and open culture hosting around 1000 events annually. 

Toulouse has 11 Michelin-starred restaurants, and residents are proud of their regional wines and products.

Toulouse’s center is a vibrant maze of cafes, neighborhood markets, pedestrian squares, historical monuments such as the majestic Capitole “town hall,” theatres, and churches. The Garonne River cuts through the city and, together with the Canal du Midi, offers numerous opportunities for outdoor activities such as river cruises, kayaking, fishing, cycling, and walking.

There are also approximately 160 green spaces and parks in and around Toulouse.

Students make up ¼ of the city’s population, making it the second-largest university city after Paris. This youthful spirit pervades the city, as does a passion for the arts, as evidenced by the numerous concert halls, theatres, and museums in Toulouse.

Additionally, the region has a mild, temperate climate with plenty of sunshine in the summer, fall, and spring. The highest temperatures in summer average around 80°F (26.67°C), with lows reaching 40°F (4.44°C) during the winter months.

As one of the larger cities in France, Toulouse has a wide range of housing options to suit every taste and budget. For instance, you can rent an apartment in the historic center of town, either a contemporary apartment with all the amenities or a beautifully renovated neoclassical building. 

Also, you can purchase a stunning French “condo” to renovate or a renovated one with modern tastes, complete with original ironwork or stone-laid chimney.

If you’d like to settle in the city center, you’ll be close to outdoor markets, small food shops, cultural activities, and you can quickly move around on foot or by public transportation. The disadvantages are that rents in the old town section are typically higher, and you may not have a garden or outside space.

For €1767, you can lease a furnished, two-bedroom, two-bathroom, 45 sq m (484.38-sq.-ft) apartment in the heart of Toulouse. If you plan to buy a two-bedroom, one-bathroom, 45 sq m (484.38-sq.-ft) apartment with a balcony, be prepared to part with at least €200,000.

Toulouse has many suburbs that are easily accessible by car or bus. The ability to be near larger shopping areas, more modern developments, and lower housing prices are benefits of living further out of the city center.

8. Nice

As the fifth-largest city in France in terms of population, Nice has long been one of the most appealing cities in the country. Sitting at the periphery of the Italian border, only 18 miles (28.97 km) away, and facing the deep blue Mediterranean Sea, this city offers perfect weather for easy retirement living.

Nice has long been a popular destination for international tourists, but it also has a vibrant community of retirees with powerful North African, Italian, and even English influences. More Americans have moved into the place, drawn by the prospect of retiring on the French Riviera.

The international airport in Nice is at the far end of the La Promenade des Anglais. It transports residents to Paris (within an hour) or other continental destinations daily. Nice has direct ferries to Sardinia and Corsica, and it also has its modern bus system and tramway. 

Trains from Nice’s central station can take you to Cannes, Antibes, and other attractive beach cities and other roads to European cities such as Vienna, Venice, and Milan.

Each neighborhood, like Paris, has its own group of boutiques, cafes, and restaurants. Nice is well known for its hospitality contributions, and you can dine at some of France’s finest restaurants. Street foods such as socca (a chickpea flour flatbread) and stuffed zucchini flowers are just as popular as Michelin-starred cuisine. 

The culinary scene is vibrant, rooted in the rich heritage of the Mediterranean, and influenced by nearby Italy.

In the city center, a 40 sq m (430.56 sq. ft) two-bedroom apartment starts at around €430,000. However, prices fall outside of the historic district. Therefore, you may look to neighboring beach towns for a better deal. 

Also, renting can be the best cost-effective option. A 40 sq m (430.56 sq. ft) two-bedroom, one-bathroom furnished apartment of the same size rents for €850 per month.

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