Why is Bordeaux dropping in list of best places to live in France?

A recent ranking found the city had dropped from 8th place in 2020 to 27th place in 2024

A view of an overflowing rubbish bin on a street in Bordeaux, France
Is Bordeaux becoming less safe and clean? Or are people just falling out of love with cities in general?
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Since 2020, the city of Bordeaux (Gironde, Nouvelle-Aquitaine) has been dropping in national rankings of the best place to live, and in the most recent lists, it is far from the top 10. Why is that?

In particular, Bordeaux has shot down the list of the annual ranking les Villes et villages où il fait bon vivre ('the towns and villages where it is good to live').

The ranking (one of many similar kinds in France) categorises its 34,808 communes by several categories including quality of life, safety, health, transport, shops and services, education, environmental protection, finances and local taxes, sports and leisure, and the property market.

“Quality of life is the most important category, followed closely by safety,” the association states.

The city was ranked 8th place in 2020, but by 2023 it had hit 27th, and by this year (2024), it dropped to 29th.

Opposition parties have - expectedly - jumped on the results to criticise the current council.

“Unfortunately, it comes as no surprise, when the municipal team has treated issues such as safety and cleanliness with contempt for three years.” said Thomas Cazenave, chairman of the municipal opposition group Renouveau Bordeaux.

Previous mayor Nicolas Florian - who is now president of the Bordeaux Ensemble group - said that “the criteria for a good quality of life have deteriorated significantly in Bordeaux over the last three years without any reaction from the mayor's office.”

At the time of writing, Mayor Pierre Humic had not yet responded to these comments.

Read also: Residents name these 3 French towns top for quality of life

Safety, cleanliness, financial pressures?

Mr Florian has claimed that the city’ safety has decreased, and that its cleanliness “is clearly worsening, even as taxes are rising”.

In his defence, when it comes to safety, Mr Humic has previously detailed changes he has made, including putting more municipal police on the streets and installing CCTV cameras.

Yet, he did admit to being reluctant to install more cameras before he did so, saying: “I believed it would get rid of agents on the ground, and profit technology over people.”

As for taxes, the city’s taxe foncière increased by 4.53% in 2023.

Read more: Taxe foncière French property tax: what rises to expect in 2024?

A city trend?

Bordeaux has certainly dropped in the rankings in recent years, but it is still doing much better than many other major cities in France.

Toulouse (Haute-Garonne), Nantes (Loire-Atlantique), Lyon (Rhône), Marseille (Bouches-du-Rhône), and Paris all failed to make the top 100 in 2024, never mind the top 50 or top 30.

The ranking association has itself noticed “an increasing lack of love for large cities”, which could also explain the falling ratings for the city.

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