Where to retire in France

From Andernos-les-Bains tourism office

Bill and I have lived from one coast of the US to the other and several places in between. Each of these relocations was a work-related transfer with little leeway on the city of choice. Our final move within America, while still revolving around jobs—as in looking for them—gave us the opportunity to make our own decision about the place. We used an almanac that rated cities across the country on numerous factors such as cost of living, climate, housing, and employment. When it came time to retire in France we consulted a number of “Best of…” lists that covered the same criteria for this country and one of those rankings was published last month in the newspaper Le Figaro. For retirees, the five points they considered were the demographics and attractiveness of each of the 50 included cities, access to health care, the quality of life, housing, and services directed toward seniors. What was at the top of their list?

We’ve been to Bordeaux several times and I remember always seeing bus shelter advertisements to “Visit Arcachon” the Atlantic beachside resort less than an hour’s drive from there that comes in at number 2 on Le Figaro’s overall list with the neighboring seaside town of Andernos-les-Bains taking the number 1 prize. And speaking of a short distance away, from our home we can take a 30-minute train ride to Narbonne, number 4 on the list, then 15 minutes up the tracks to Beziers (#19) and 11 minutes further to Agde (#9). Here’s the top:

  1. Andernos-les-Bains
  2. Arcachon
  3. Vannes
  4. Narbonne
  5. Saint-Hilaire-de-Riez
  6. Challans
  7. Cannes
  8. Limoges
  9. Equally ranked – Agde / Saint-Malo
The Bridge of Love in Annecy

Although you have to have a subscription to the newspaper to see their complete list of 50 best places to retire, Le Figaro does make available individual “best of” lists such as healthcare and quality of life from which the overall list was compiled. I’ll put a link below to their most-attractive-cities as well as to a pdf that shows the overall ranking from 2019.

While the ranking above was directed towards retirees, I saw another article earlier in the year about a 2-year study that investigated 35,000 places to live in France, taking into account education, shopping, transport, health, and quality of life. This was based on information provided by the government’s statistics office INSEE. Beautiful lakeside Annecy leads the ranking:

  1. Annecy
  2. Bayonne
  3. La Rochelle
  4. Angers
  5. Le Mans
  6. Nice
  7. Avignon
  8. Bordeaux
  9. Caen
  10. Lorient

There’s a link below that will take you to a website that shows all 34,841 municipalities including our own Carcassonne at #89 nationwide and #21 when compared with other cities of a similar size. For us it remains #1. Home really is where the heart is and we feel right at home.

Le Figaro most-attractive-cities article: https://immobilier.lefigaro.fr/article/palmares-retraite-2020-les-villes-championnes-de-l-attractivite_3f607af0-0a0d-11eb-aed4-38036455b560/

Le Figaro list for 2019: Figaro 2019 retirement cities

Best place to live: https://www.villesetvillagesouilfaitbonvivre.com/le-palmares/classement/

5 thoughts on “Where to retire in France

  1. You chose well! Carcassonne is lovely. Also, Arcachon and surroundings are stunning – you must see the amazing coastline/beaches there if you ever have the chance. Happy New Year!

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  2. Bob – Happy New Year to you both! JD Doyle told me that he found you living in France! Good choice with all that is going on here in the States now! Don’t know if you’ll remember me from the UUGC days and Our Own Community Press. I have remained in the area and made it my home. I’m now married to my husband that I lured from the middle of the country. I retired from working in health care a few years ago at the ripe old age of 75.

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    1. Great to hear from you, Fred, and yes I certainly remember you! Nice to see that you are happily settled, married, and retired. A very Happy New Year to you both!


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