Reader question: I am currently looking for places in France to buy and came across beautiful properties, many of them being described as 'quiet positions with no direct neighbours'. This brought up some questions about safety. Do you generally feel safe?
This reader question inspired us to look into where in France is safest to live.
This month, an open-source-data analysis website Ville-Data published its list of safest departments in the country for 2020. The analysis team took the number of crimes recorded by police, and divided it by the number of inhabitants in a department, in order to get a ratio of risk factor.
The number one safest department in France, according to them, is Wallis et Futuna.
If you have not heard of it, that is because it is one of France’s overseas territories and is located around 16,000km from the mainland.
The territory is made up of three main islands and has a population of 11,558. It lies in the South Pacific between Tuvalu, Fiji, Tonga and Samoa.
“With a total number of 127 crimes and offences in 2019 for a population of 11,558 inhabitants, the Wallis and Futuna Islands present a risk of crime or aggression of 1 in 91,” Ville-Data stated, making it the country’s safest department overall.
Number two on the list is also an overseas territory: Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon, an island off the coast of Newfoundland in North America.
The safest place in mainland France is the city Rodez in the department Aveyron, north of Toulouse.
There, 8 627 crimes and offences were recorded in 2019 for a population of 275,063.
Ville-Data also broke the numbers down further.
The area with the fewest number of burglaries in France is...also Wallis and Futuna. In second place is Bastia, a city on the island of Corsica, and in third place is Saint-Lô, capital of the department of Manche in Normandy.
The area with the fewest number of petty thefts against private individuals in public places is again Wallis and Futuna. In second place is Guéret in the department of Creuse in Nouvelle-Aquitaine.
Finally, the area considered the least risky in terms of intentional assault is Cahors in the department of Lot in Occitanie. A total number of 418 criminal assaults were recorded in 2019 for a population of 174,810.
France compared to other countries
France is overall quite a safe country to live in. Data from the Institute for Economics and Peace ranks France as the 66th safest country out of 163 in its Global Peace Index 2020.
Countries were graded on 23 qualitative and quantitative indicators, including violent crimes, political terror, incarceration etc. France’s gilet jaune movement was highlighted as a factor that counted against its peacefulness score.
Europe in general is the world’s most peaceful region.
France was listed less peaceful than the UK, which came in 42nd place, but more peaceful than the US, which was 121st.
Iceland was deemed the most peaceful country in the world, a position it has held since 2008. After that, there was New Zealand, Austria, Portugal and Denmark.
The least peaceful country in the world is Afghanistan.
The most dangerous departments in France
Ville-Data also ranked the most dangerous places to live in France. They found the country’s capital, Paris, to be the least safe. 314,530 crimes were recorded there in 2019 for a population of 2,241,346.
Following Paris is Seine-Saint-Denis, another Île-de-France department, with 150,176 crimes for a population of 1,554,166.
Marseille, which has the reputation of being a dangerous place, came in fifth place overall.