Where Do You Want to Live in France?
France is made up of 18 administrative regions, 5 of which are overseas, so let’s leave those out for the purposes of our discussion, with the exception of Corsica as part of the 13. Prior to January of 2016, when the French parliament made effective a new law to reduce the number of metropolitan regions, France boasted of 22. The law gave rise to new combined names for the regions:
* Burgundy and Franche-Comté became Bourgogne-Franche-Comté
* Aquitaine and Limousin became Nouvelle-Aquitaine
* Poitou-Charentes, Lower Normandy and Upper Normandy became Normandy
* Alsace, Champagne-Ardenne and Lorraine became Grand Est
* Languedoc-Roussillon and Midi-Pyrénées became Occitanie
* Nord-Pas-de-Calais and Picardy became Hauts-de-France
* Auvergne and Rhône-Alpes became Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes
Regions whose names remained unchanged are:
* Centre-Val de Loire
* Pays de la Loire
* Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur
There’s something to love about each and every one, so choosing a place to live out of so many wonderfully beautiful and rich spots in France can be a mind-boggling decision. I prefer to start to eliminate areas by answering two important questions:
1. What cities or areas of France have the easiest travel access, by train or plane?
The pleasure of living in France and Europe is access to other parts of France and other European countries — as well as to the rest of the world. Be close to a major train hub or international airport, and I assure you, you’ll have a great time exploring more that the world has to offer, easily, quickly, and inexpensively.
France, as a well-known tourist country, has developed a wide range of international airports:
* Paris Charles de Gaulle – IATA code CDG
* Paris Orly Airport – IATA code ORY
* Bordeaux Mérignac Airport – IATA code BOD
* Beauvais Tillé Airport – IATA code BVA
* Lyon Saint-Exupéry Airport – IATA code LYS
* Marseille Provence Airport – IATA code MRS
* Nantes Airport – IATA code NTE
* Nice Côte d’Azur Airport – IATA code NCE
* Mulhouse Airport – IATA code BSL
* Toulouse Blagnac Airport – IATA code TLS
Live near any of these and you can spend your weekends hopping from one great spot to another!
The trains are another amazing way of getting around France and Europe. Live near a major TGV hub and you’ll be set. The TGV is the “Train à Grande Vitesse”—the high-speed trains operated by the SNCF in France. (See wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_TGV_services)
The TGV Méditerranée line connects Paris with the South and the Southeast of France, serving Lyon, Avignon, Aix-en-Provence, and Marseille. For the Southwest, the TGV also connects with Nîmes, Montpellier, Béziers, Narbonne, and Perpignan. TGV Atlantique connects Paris with the Britanny and the west of France. This line serves Le Mans, Tours, Nantes, Rennes, Qimper, and Brest. The TGV Nord-Europe line goes north from Paris to Lille and to the English-Channel coast at Dunkerque, Calais, and Boulogne. The Lille TGV hub is a link to destinations in Belgium, The Netherlands, and northern Germany. The TGV Eurostar line between Paris-Gare du Nord and London’s Saint Pancras station takes just 2 hours 20 minutes and the Thalys train links Paris and Brussels takes 1 hour 30 minutes.
2. Where do other Americans live?
The reason this is important is for your social life and sanity. Having compatriots with which to relate, befriend and commiserate will make your life a whole lot more enjoyable and fun. Sure, you will want to learn French, but it’s not just the language you will need to master. You’ll also want to cross the cultural divide with ease and having other Americans by your side will make a huge difference to your overall experience living in France.
According to a recent article in The Local, France’s national statistics agency INSEE cites the number of Americans in France is around the
31,000 mark but the U.S. embassy touts about 100,000 of us in France. This doesn’t count the hundreds of thousands who visit France and dream of living here.
Most of them are in Paris and the Île de France — about half of all Americans in France. The American community in Paris is alive, well, and strong with dozens of organizations and tons of things to do. Meeting up with them is “du gâteau” (piece of cake). You can make friends quickly and easily — more than you ever dreamed because
we’re all “birds of a feather” who like to “flock together.”
There are more Americans in Central France than one might think — perhaps that’s because of Lyon’s gastronomic culture, but the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region is way up there as hot spots…for good reason. What’s not to like about sunny Provence or the Côte d’Azur?
Where they don’t live is La France Profonde, which is primarily overrun by the British, and Corsica (although I know several Americans there myself, in spite of the statistics). Eastern France has much smaller communities than the others. The reason for this goes back to access…they tend to live in metropolitan areas so they can take advantage of the easy travel access.
Makes sense. And it makes sense to choose where you want to live in France based on these two important aspects to life: ease of transportation access and the ability to make friends and have a social life.
Otherwise, there’s a lot of France to love. Let us help you work out just where to hang your beret!
Adrian Leeds Group
P.S. To see the latest House Hunters International episode—”From Heartbroken to Happy in Nice —which aired in the U.S. Tuesday night at 10:30 p.m. and 1:30 a.m. EDT (if you missed it), you can find it posted (even though the HGTV network won’t be happy) on Youtube.com…so watch it now, or forever hold your peace, as it won’t be there for long! Got to Youtube.com and search “From Heartbroken to Happy in Nice” to find several possible links!