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Angers and Guéthary ranked best town and village to live in France

The Loire Valley town and Basque Country village have taken the top spot this year, in a ranking that considers 187 criteria across nine categories of local infrastructure and facilities

Clockwise: Views of the towns and villages of Angers, Guéthary, Honfleur, and Annecy

Clockwise: Angers, Guéthary, Honfleur, and Annecy; respectively the best town, the best village, most-improved, and last year's best town Pic: saiko3p / MisterStock / byvalet / Picturereflex / Shutterstock

Angers in Maine-et-Loire and the traditional Basque village of Guéthary in Pyrénées-Atlantiques have topped a new annual ranking of the best town, and best village, to live in France.

Published by le Journal du Dimanche, the third annual top 50 town ranking (fewer than 200,000 inhabitants) put Angers ahead of Annecy (Haute-Savoie), which won last year. Bayonne (Pyrénées-Atlantiques) came in third.

The village ranking put Guéthary on top, followed by Peltre (Metz) in second place, and Épron (Calvados) in third.

Honfleur (Calvados) received the honour for most-improved town (up 170 places compared to 2021, now in 496th place). The small town of Aytré (9,000 inhabitants) in Charente-Maritime came in at the best first-time entry, in 384th place.

Among towns with more than 200,000 inhabitants, Nice came in 7th place, Rennes in 10th, and Bordeaux in 14th. The major cities of Paris, Lyon and Marseille came in 66th, 63rd, and 93rd respectively.

The rankings consider 187 criteria across nine categories such as security and safety, health, business, public transport, education, leisure, support, property; and use data from statistics bureau Institut national de la statistique et des études économiques (Insee) and state or departmental agencies to compare.

The full ranking can be searched on the website, where you can enter your postcode or town name and see where it has been ranked.

Thierry Saussez, president of the l’association des villes et des villages où il fait bon vivre (towns and villages where it is good to live), said: “This edition confirms the remergence of medium-szied towns and villages.

“The ranking allows us to focus more on these communes and more generally to do away with this hideous word, ‘provinces’.”

Mr Saussez explained to le Journal du Dimanche that the ranking had come out a desire to focus on “aspects of local life”, after he noticed six years ago that there were rankings for the “most-flowered tows” and “the best internet connection” but no ranking for the “best local places to live”.

He said: “To be considered ‘a city where it is good to live’ in a ranking that is so popular every year is obviously a source of pride for its inhabitants! In any case, I think that all those who have it are very proud. 

“We’re starting to see the label appear on town entrance signs, and it can also be used for the economic and tourist promotion of the commune. It’s important for places that want to attract newcomers.”

Medium-sized towns and villages have become of more interest recently, as more people seek to buy property away from large cities as a result of Covid, and more people working from home.

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