The five best places to live in France, according to new ranking

The ranking used a vast array of data and criteria to sort more than 34,900 towns nationwide

A split photo of the four top towns
The ranking compared criteria to find the ‘best’ places to live
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A new ranking has identified the top five places to live in France, placing mountain commune Villard-de-Lans near Grenoble (Isère) in first place, followed by Gérardmer (Vosges) in second.

The website (‘dream town’) has a vast ranking of more than 34,900 towns, with a huge array of statistics and details for each, about everything from healthcare to sports facilities to travel accessibility.

Mountain regions appear to have done particularly well this year, perhaps because of their beauty, and access to leisure and sport options.

The ranking identified the following places in its top five this year:

1. Villard-de-Lans (Isère, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes)

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The site praised the town for its dynamism, environment, attractiveness, sustainability, and the fitness and good health of residents, although it lost points for its lack of ‘heritage’. Score: 90 marks out of 100.

2. Gérardmer (Vosges, Grand Est)

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This town won because of its wide array of facilities for residents, along with its good quality education, leisure options, sustainability, and natural environment. Score: 89/100.

3. Guérande (Loire-Atlantique, Pays de la Loire)

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Coming in third, this town was praised for its sports and fitness, good education, and strong leisure facilities. Score: 88/100.

4. Thônes (Haute-Savoie, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes)

Zoe Calvert / Shutterstock

Described as “expensive but worth it”, this town was praised for its good health, fitness options, and sustainability. Score: 87/100.

5. Embrun (Hautes-Alpes, Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur)

Johan from Friesland / Shutterstock

Also in the top five is this “well-equipped” town, rated due to its leisure and sports facilities, healthcare, education, and dynamism. Score: 86/100.

The rest of the Top 10

The rest of the top 10 comprised:

6. Saint-Pol-de-Léon (Finistère, Brittany) - 86/100. Health, education, and close to a TGV line

7. Bagnères-de-Bigorre (Hautes-Pyrénées) - 86/100. Sport, dynamism, cost of living, education

8. Oloron-Sainte-Marie (Pyrénées-Atlantiques) - 85/100. Leisure, sport, cost of living, education, health

9. Aime-la-Plagne (Savoie, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes) - 85/100. Health, and ski access

10. Bagnères-de-Luchon (Haute-Garonne, Occitanie) - 85/100. Well-equipped, environment, quality of life, health, education

Judging criteria

The site used a vast array of criteria and metrics to assess the towns, and - depending on your needs and wants - each town may appear more or less attractive as the ideal place to live.

As the website states: “Because the best city in France may not be your best city in France.”

It used 132 sources to collect results for 725 criteria for each commune included in its ranking, and grouped these by 19 “thematic” categories.

These were (in order of their importance to the town’s overall score):

Quality of Life, Accessibility to Nature, Safety, Health, Dynamism, Sustainability in the face of climate change (summarised as ‘in 2050’), Economy & Work, Heritage, Presence of Natural and Technological Risks, Culture, Sport, Attractiveness/Beauty, Cost of Living, Citizenship & Public Life, Education, Leisure, Accessibility and Transport, Innovation and Higher Education.

The data sources included SNCF, INSEE, ANCT, Observatoire des Finances et de la Gestion Publique Locales, The Michelin Guide, the CAF, DRIAS, Météo-France, INAO, the ARS, ADEME, and the Assurance Maladie.

Other government sources included the Ministère de l'Intérieur, DGFiP, Ministère de l'Economie, Ministère de la Culture, Ministère de l'Éducation nationale, and ARCEP.

More specifically, some of the criteria and data collected included:

  • Price of property / average rent per m2

  • Number of recharging stations for electric cars

  • Average annual rainfall

  • Cost of petrol and fuel

  • Air quality and pollution levels

  • Drinking water quality

  • Number of cultural associations

The towns can also be ‘filtered’ on the website by criteria including:

  • Near the coast / not near the coast

  • Size, from large city to hamlet

  • Town centre / Further out

  • Superb weather / Good weather

  • Transport options, including a large station

  • Heritage and museums

  • Safety and security

  • Climate risk

Comparing criteria

The site also has an interactive map of France, which can be searched by different criteria. Users can zoom right down to individual hamlets to see how they scored.

There is also a page where users can search for a specific town, and see a score out of 100 for each of the 19 categories.

The wide variety of details includes everything from how far away it is from the nearest large city, the cost of living, how many empty properties there are, how accessible GPs are, how many rivers there are, how many creche places are available per 100 children, and the average internet speed.

Users can also choose up to four different towns to add to the ‘comparator’ and compare different towns side by side.

Major cities

In terms of large/medium cities, Angers (Maine-et-Loire) came in first place of 31, and Amiens (Somme) in 31st place.

Read more: Angers and Guéthary ranked best town and village to live in France

Here is how some of France’s other major cities fared in the ranking:

1. Paris: 69/100. 13th of 31 large towns. +Transport, culture, dynamism. -High cost of living.

2. Bordeaux: 67.7/100. 14th of 31. +Transport, education, leisure, work. -Nature, safety.

3. Nice: 64.2/100. 21st of 31. +Weather, dynamism, education, leisure. -Safety, high cost of living.

4. Toulouse: 66.9/100. 15th of 31. +Transport, education, leisure. -Quality of life, safety.

5. Nantes: 72.2/100. 7th of 31. +Transport, education, work, leisure. -Community, safety, quality of life.

6. Strasbourg: 66.4/100. 16th of 31. +Transport, dynamism. -Cost of living, nature.

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