The top 500 of the best places to live in France for 2021 have been revealed, in the second annual study of the quality of life group The association of towns and villages where it is good to live (“The association of towns and villages where life is good”).
The group qualifies its list as “the most comprehensive ranking ever” out of the 34,837 places analyzed, with 183 criteria used to compare them.
Who were the winners of the best places to live in France in 2021?
The main prize list presented by the association represents municipalities with 2,000 inhabitants or more. There is a separate list of very small towns and villages.
The picturesque alpine town of Annecy in south-eastern France retained the top spot from 2020, followed by Bayonne in second – also not moved last year.
However, this year Angers passed La Rochelle for third place, with Le Mans completing the top five.
How are the best places to live chosen?
Of the 183, 152 criteria came from the national statistics institute Insee and 31 from other public bodies such as the Ministry of the Interior.
The criteria were divided into eight categories.
The ranking also took into account the number of inhabitants and used nine INSEE population strata rankings to compare comparable data.
The the association’s website allows you to search by name or postal code, to see where your municipality is located.
The Covid has changed the way of life of the French
The 2021 list was shaped by an unprecedented period that saw healthcare under intense pressure, business closures, a shift to working from home nationwide, fluctuating unemployment rates – and a collective assessment of our priorities when it comes to choosing a place to live.
The data in the list shows how the need for quality public transport has been replaced by the demands for high-speed internet coverage and access to environments beneficial to health and well-being.
Medium-sized cities have conquered the list, driving their siblings out of the big cities. Real estate agencies are seeing increased demand from lockdown for properties in mid-size cities – especially new builds with gardens.
“Out of 319 municipalities with 20,000 to 50,000 inhabitants, 305 were eligible for the ‘towns and villages where it is good to live’ label, which clearly shows the interest that we see today for these municipalities,” declared Antoine Chauvel, the director of The association of towns and villages where it is good to live.
Ajaccio, capital of Corsica, has jumped 140 places thanks to its quality of health and its digital infrastructure. This year’s climbers also include the port city of Toulon on the Mediterranean coast, Châteauroux in the Indre, Pau in the Pyrenees, Metz on the banks of the Moselle and seaside Caen in Normandy.
Among the large French cities, only Nice, which is losing several places, and Bordeaux, are in the top 10 this year.
The growing demand for properties outside major urban centers should not be interpreted as a preference for remote rural living, says Nicholas Hazard, author of Happiness is in the village (Happiness is in the village). People are looking for the best of both worlds in small towns and villages which still have quick and convenient access to the city.
Here are the top 20 of the best cities to live in France in 2021:
- Annecy (74)
- Bayonne (64)
- Angers (49)
- La Rochelle (17)
- Le Mans (72)
- Caen (14)
- Nice (06)
- Bordeaux (33)
- Avignon (84)
- Lorient (56)
- Brest (29)
- Rennes (35)
- Strasbourg (67)
- Pau (64)
- Cherbourg-en-Cotentin (50)
- Rodez (12)
- Le Havre (76)
- Metz (57)
- Biarritz (64)
- Saint-Etienne (42)
Here are the top 20 municipalities with less than 2000 inhabitants
- Peltre (57)
- Guéthary (64)
- Epron (14)
- Martinvast (50)
- Authie (14)
- Théoule-sur-Mer (06)
- Offices (64)
- Vantoux (57)
- Les Loges-en-Josas (78)
- Saint-Quay-Perros (22)
- Piscop (95)
- Le Pin (77)
- Laloubere (65)
- Falcon (06)
- Mey (57)
- Ploulec’h (22)
- Sonnaz (73)
- Marcellaz-Albanian (74)
- Laguenne-sur-Avalouze (19)
- Flours (31)
Newspaper Sunday Newspaper has full listings, while the association’s website offers a search tool.