Retirement runner-up

Coming in second out of 242 isn’t bad. That’s the position that Carcassonne achieved in a “where to live after retirement” study conducted by the newspaper Le Parisien. They compared cities of more than 20,000 inhabitants outside the capital region of Île-de-France, evaluating around 30 different factors that would be important to the 75,000 French retirees who move each year. The authors readily admit that they were unable to account for emotional factors such as returning to where you grew up, settling in an area that’s near your adult children or where you already have friends or where you’ve always enjoyed visiting. After 25 years of annual vacations in France, that last point rang true for us.

There were 4 principal themes that helped to establish the rankings:

Safety and security—thefts, break ins, assaults, injuries

Health care—medical personnel, public health facilities, life expectancy

Social life—clubs and associations, the number of people over 65, easy transportation links

Quality of life—green space, distance to the sea or mountains, cost of housing, weather

Here’s a table with the top 20 cities:

1. Biarritz11. Saintes
2. Carcassonne12. Saumur
3. Dax13. Bayonne
4. Rodez14. Narbonne
5. Millau15. Saint-Malo
6. Bastia16. Beaune
7. Libourne17. Sète
8. Gap18. Pau
9. Ajaccio19. Béziers
10. Nîmes20. Aurillac
Maison Lamourelle

Once this list came out we were of course proud that our hometown had made it so very near the top but also because our region of Occitanie was well represented with 6 other cities that we know well—Rodez, Millau, Nîmes, Narbonne, Sète, and Béziers. We can understand how the beautiful seaside city of Biarritz made it to number 1, although with the price of housing there being five times that of Carcassonne, I think we’ll be content with number 2.

Square Gambetta artwork

In short, according to the newspaper “retirees appreciate a city on a human scale, that is dynamic and is well-served by public transportation.” The website Radins, that looks for good values, concluded that “It should be noted that no major French metropolis appears in Le Parisien’s ranking, which confirms the hypothesis of a quiet retirement, far from the hustle and bustle of big cities.” In our opinion, it’s all a matter of taste: big city, smaller town, tiny village. We can live in one and enjoy the rest. In the gallery below are a few more photos of where we call home. The featured photo above at the top is Château Comtal and just below that is the entrance to our favorite wine bar.

6 thoughts on “Retirement runner-up

    1. Thanks for that tip about Saintes and you know us, once we visit there I’ll have to write a blog post entitled, “When the Saintes go Marching in”! 😂

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    1. Good questions–we have visited most of these cities and the more lists that we see like this one that narrow down the choices from the 36,000 communes in France, the more convinced I am that we could happily live in almost any of them that make the final cut to appear on the list. Two of the top 20 here are on the beautiful island of Corsica; gorgeous views but island life is too isolated for us. No, we didn’t immediately notice any missing names.


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