Top 50 French towns for retirees revealed

Best towns to retire to in France announced by leading French media - factoring in housing, weather, social life and services for seniors. We take a look at the top 10.

12 October 2020
The pier at Andernos-les-Bains. Top 10 French towns to retire to in 2020The pier at Andernos-les-Bains. The town is ranked the top place to retire to in France.
By Joanna York

News source Le Figaro has revealed its list of the top 50 towns in France to retire to - factoring in housing, weather, social life and services for seniors. We take a look at the top 10.

To make the list, researchers studied towns with over 10,000 inhabitants that currently attract the most retired people in France. Overall, the list features predominantly small and medium-sized cities, with accessible services and affordable housing prices. 

The top 10 French towns for retirees in 2020

  1. Andernos-les-Bains
  2. Arcachon
  3. Vannes
  4. Narbonne
  5. Saint-Hilaire-de-Riez
  6. Challans
  7. Cannes
  8. Limoges
  9. Equally ranked - Agde / Saint-Malo

Andernos-les-Bains and Arcachon

The basin of Arcachon has remained at the top of the list since 2019, with both of the top two cities located in the coastal area south of Bordeaux.

This year, Andernos-les-Bains topped the list, with local mayor Jean-Yves Rosazza telling Le Figaro: “We attract mostly young, sporty retirees. They come to spend the first 20 years of their retirement with us, then go to Arcachon [second on Le Figaro’s list] which has more hospital infrastructure and buildings with lifts.”

However, the mayor hopes the town’s number one rating will not attract too many new retirees and drive up property prices. Andernos-les-Bains has seen a rise of 36.3% in property prices in the past four years. 

Vannes, Narbonne, Saint-Hilaire-de-Riez and Challans

In at number three and four, Vannes (Brittany) and Narbonne (Occitanie) were also rated highly in last year’s list. 

Saint-Hilaire-de-Riez, along the coast in Pays de la Loire, has returned to the top 10 at number five, after being rated 11th last year. Nearby Challans is a new entry to the 2020 list, at number six.

Mayor of Challans, Rémi Pascreau, told Le Figaro one thing that attracts retirees to the town is its location. Challans is 15km from a rocky coastline that is appreciated by local walkers, but which is largely free from tourists.

In addition, Mr Pascreau said: “We are lucky to have a hospital for a town with 21,000 inhabitants - not forgetting our quality sports facilities, and rich community life.”

 

Cannes

Cannes has fallen from third place last year to seventh in 2020, due to high property prices. However, the town still holds many attractions for retirees, not least its location on the French Riviera. The CanneSéries television festival is currently underway, and there are many other cultural events throughout the year, as well as good general services in the city.  

Limoges

Limoges (Nouvelle-Aquitaine) has retained its place as the only city with over 100,000 inhabitants to make the top 10 in 2020. Deputy mayor Samia Riffaud said: “Housing prices are affordable to the point at which our retirees can sell their houses in the countryside in Haute-Vienne to move closer to the town, even if that means buying a smaller property.” In addition, Ms Riffaud said the city is a haven for nature lovers, with 50m2 of green space for each inhabitant.   

Other high-ranking cities with over 100,000 inhabitants on the 2020 list include Caen (Normandy) in 11th place, and Nice (Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur) in 17th place.

Agde and Saint-Malo 

Closing out the top 10 in joint ninth place are Agde in Hérault and Saint-Malo in Brittany. Agde was also in ninth place in the 2019 list.

Mayor of Saint-Malo, Gilles Lurton, said the town’s top-ten ranking “proves that our seniors are happy here and that the town is responsive to their needs”. 

He added that many retirees are Bretons who return to the region after forging their careers elsewhere. Nonetheless, Saint-Malo has proportionally gained the most retirees coming from other towns than any other place in the top 10 on this year’s list.  

Few towns in the north east

Besançon was the highest-ranking north-eastern town in 22nd place, which still places it in the top five for cities with over 100,000 inhabitants.

Mayor Anne Vignot said towns in the north east did not rank higher in the list as “there is a complex image to overcome”. 

“There is no sea and, at first glance, it seems grey and far away. In reality [Besançon] is a clear and bright town that is a gateway to the mountains and to neighbouring European countries.”

For seniors in particular, she said, there are outdoors sports activities, and many cultural events.

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