Popular expat destinations in France

France is a vast country full of opportunity for expatriates, offering a good quality of life, varied culture, plentiful architectural landmarks to explore, and a strong expat community. It attracts both business workers and retirees alike, and is one of the most popular destinations for people from the UK looking to relocate within the EU. Here are five of the most popular cities for expatriates, scattered throughout the region.


The capital of France is a popular option for workers wanting to continue to advance their career while experiencing a different culture and way of life. Paris has a thriving economy – the largest in continental Europe – and is home to many large business and financial organisations. Despite its historic and romantic architecture and well-known landmarks, it’s a thoroughly modern city, with an efficient infrastructure and first-class services. It’s a global centre for culture, food, art, fashion, meaning that there is always something to do, and somewhere new to explore. For those who want to maintain a bustling city life, this is the prime French destination.
The third largest city in France, has a rich cultural background. It’s the place in which the Lumiére brothers developed the Cinematographe and introduced motion pictures to the world. Even today, Lyon remains a city known for innovation, with many pioneering companies based in the area. It’s a strong economic hub for the banking, finance, biotech, pharmaceutical and software industries, and is home to many international headquarters. It’s not all work however, as the city is also as picturesque as they come and, due to its historically important landmarks, it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site
This pretty, southwestern city is popular with British expats who want to live somewhere that feels more authentically French. Its pink terracotta buildings paint the perfect picture, and it offers a more laidback way of life than some of France’s larger cities. There are still good work opportunities, however, with the so-called Aerospace Valley business cluster offering career progression for those in the right industries. Being in the south of the country, the climate is favourable all year round, and is popular with those who want to be able to spend weekends skiing in the Pyrenees mountains during the colder months.
Strasbourg sits in the north-east of France, right on the German border. Its location means that the city has a wonderful and unique blend of both German and French architecture and culture. It’s popular with expats who need to travel, as it’s close to both Zuirch, Switerland and Brussels, Belgium, and is served by an international airport. It’s an important political location, being the seat of the European Parliament and other key European organisations. Strasbourg is also steeped in culture, and is home to many famous theatres, as well as the second largest library in France.
The French Riviera holds a lot of appeal for expats looking for a good quality of life. Situated between Cannes and Monaco, Nice is considered a central hub of this region and is a busy cosmopolitan town. The Mediterranean climate is certainly a draw, and it is particularly popular with retirees. However, there are opportunities for workers in the right sectors and it has the winning combination of a strong economy and low unemployment. It offers a nice balance between the city centre and the twin attractions of the sea and the nearby mountains.
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Information correct at the time of publication.