Top 500 best places to live in France

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The top 500 of the best places to live in France for 2021 have been unveiled, in the second annual study by the quality of life group the Association towns and villages where life is good (“the association of towns and villages where life is good”).

The group describes its list as “the most comprehensive ranking ever” 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 big prize list presented by the association represents municipalities with 2,000 inhabitants or more. There is a distinct range of very small towns and villages.

The picturesque Alpine town of Annecy in southeastern France retained the top spot from 2020, followed by Bayonne in second place – also a non-move from last year.

However, this year Angers overtook La Rochelle for third place, with Le Mans completing the top five.

Annecy voted best city to live in France in 2021

How are the best places to live chosen?

Of the 183, 152 criteria came from INSEE and 31 from other public bodies such as the Ministry of the Interior.

The criteria were divided into eight categories.

The classification also takes into account the number of inhabitants and uses nine classifications of INSEE population strata to compare what is comparable.

the the association’s website allows you to search by name or postal code, to see where your municipality is located.

Photo: Villesetvillagesouilfaitbonvivre.com / Screenshot

Covid has changed the way people live in France

The 2021 list has been shaped by an unprecedented period that has seen the health service under intense pressure, the closure of businesses, a national shift to working from home, fluctuating unemployment rates – and a collective assessment of our priorities in matter of 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The data in the list shows how the need for quality public transport has been replaced by the demands for high-speed internet coverage and access to environments beneficial to health and well-being.

The castle town of Angers beat La Rochelle to third place in the ranking

Mid-size cities conquered the list, driving out their big sisters. Real estate agencies are seeing an increase in demand since the lockdown for properties in medium-sized towns – especially new builds with gardens.

“Out of 319 municipalities with 20,000 to 50,000 inhabitants, 305 were eligible for the ‘cities and villages where life is good’ label, which shows the interest that we are seeing today for these municipalities”, declared Antoine Chauvel, director of the Association towns and villages where life is good.

Ajaccio, the capital of Corsica, jumped 140 places thanks to its quality of health and its digital infrastructures. This year’s climbers also include the port city of Toulon on the Mediterranean coast, Chateauroux in Indre, Pau in the Pyrenees, Metz on the banks of the Moselle and the seaside resort of Caen in Normandy.

The port city of Ajaccio in Corsica is the birthplace of Napoleon Bonaparte

Among the major French cities, only Nice, which lost several places, and Bordeaux, are part of the top 10 this year.

According to Nicholas Hazard, author of Happiness is in the village (Happiness is in the village). People look for the best of both worlds in small towns and villages that still have quick and convenient access to the city.

Here are the top 20 best cities to live in France in 2021:

  1. Annecy (74)
  2. Bayonne (64)
  3. Angers (49)
  4. La Rochelle (17)
  5. Le Mans (72)
  6. Caen (14)
  7. Nice (06)
  8. Bordeaux (33)
  9. Avignon (84)
  10. Lorient (56)
  11. Brest (29)
  12. Reindeer (35)
  13. Strasbourg (67)
  14. Pau (64)
  15. Cherbourg in Cotentin (50)
  16. Rodez (12)
  17. Le Havre (76)
  18. Metz (57)
  19. Biarritz (64)
  20. Saint-Etienne (42)

Here are the top 20 municipalities with less than 2,000 inhabitants

  1. Peltre (57)
  2. Guethary (64)
  3. Epron (14)
  4. Martinvast (50)
  5. Authie (14)
  6. Theoule-sur-Mer (06)
  7. Offices (64)
  8. Vantoux (57)
  9. Les-Loges-en-Josas (78)
  10. Saint Quay Perros (22)
  11. Piscop (95)
  12. Pine (77)
  13. Laloubere (65)
  14. Falcon (06)
  15. May (57)
  16. Ploulec’h (22)
  17. Sonnaz (73)
  18. Marcellaz Albanian (74)
  19. Laguenne-sur-Avalouze (19)
  20. Florence (31)

Newspaper The Sunday newspaper has the full listings, while the association’s website offers a search facility.

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