If you had to study Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs in high school or college you might recall that the base of the pyramid is formed by “physiological needs” such as air, water, food, and shelter. In other words, if you lack any of those essentials you aren’t long for this world; however, once those needs of bare existence are guaranteed you can move up a level to “safety needs” that will ensure your continued survival. Here we address issues such as personal security, resources, and health. Deciding where to live bears some similarities to Maslow’s pyramid: first you must find a location that will give you the kind of accommodation (shelter) and nourishment (food and water) you seek and then you begin looking at less-essential but still vital issues including that safety need of health. An article in the newspaper Le Figaro ranked the top 100 French cities where “one can live in good health” and I was delighted to see that Carcassonne was included in their list.
Not only did our new hometown make it to the top 100 (position 76) but another dozen cities in our region of Occitanie were there as well. Our neighbor to the east, Narbonne, is number 32 while the much larger Toulouse to our west is number 8. We can even count the number one spot as ours as well since that went to Albi, about 100 kms (60 miles) north of us (featured photo above).
So what does it mean to vit en bonne santé (live in good health), at least according to Le Figaro? First, they looked for the cities that had the most number of residents over the age of 75, reasoning that living well includes living a long time. Once 100 of those were chosen they were examined in 3 areas: deaths from serious illnesses such as cancer and cardiovascular disease; the availability of doctors; and air pollution. I’ll put a link at the bottom of this post to a pdf of all the cities and their ranking but here are the top 10, in order:
As far as why our region has so many cities on the list, Bill and I think that the mayor of Albi’s comments about her own city apply to this whole area of the south of France. Mayor Guiraud-Chaumeil commented on the abundance of natural spaces where people are encouraged to walk, exercise, ride bikes, and simply be outside. A climate that includes up to 300 days of sunshine each year certainly helps. Unsurprisingly she said, “Here, we eat well and locally”, a trait that we’ve found across the country.
If you go further up the Maslow pyramid you’ll encounter terms such as “friendship”, “respect for others”, and at the top “lack of prejudice”. The motto of France, written into the constitution, is Liberty, Equality, Fraternity. Wishing you a healthy day!