France is the most popular country in Europe for migrating Britons, with around 250,000 Britons living permanently in France, with about 57,000 of them retired and many thousands more are joining them every year.
Many are undoubtedly attracted by the great food and wine, rich and diverse culture, varied and diverse landscapes which offer so much to see and do as well as the relaxed way of life. Here are ten top reasons why France is a great choice for your retirement years:
France has a mostly temperate climate but is bordered by four seas, has 3 mountain ranges and is over 700 miles from north to south and 530 miles from east to west, which all means there is great regional variation and therefore something to suit all tastes.
If it’s warm, dry, sunny days with the mercury rarely dropping below 30 degrees from May to September you are looking for then head to the Mediterranean south coastal region; in western, north-western and central regions, including Paris, winters are cool and fairly rainy, though summers are much warmer than the UK; while in the mountainous regions of the Alps and the Pyrénées, summers are warm but winter temperatures get well below freezing and the areas see heavy snowfall!
- Lifestyle destination
In France people work to live not live to work, and whilst if you’re retiring to France you won’t be thinking about working, this focus on and value of leisure time is evident across the lifestyle in France in general. In retirement, if you’re looking for a slower pace of life that embraces relaxing café culture; the traditional values of time spent with family and friends; and an emphasis on maximising leisure time, then France will be a great choice for you.
If you’re a foodie, retiring in France could be the perfect destination for you, French cuisine is certainly renowned as being one of the best in the world. From Michelin-starred restaurants to small, family-owned cafes, the French take their food seriously, and the produce is excellent quality, from the bread, pastries and desserts to the cheeses, meats, eggs, fruit, and seafood.
Almost every region has its special cuisine and unique ways of preparing food, from crepes in Normandy, bouillabaisse in Marseille, to boeuf bourguignon in Burgundy and black olive tapenade in Provence, the cultural nuances live on through the regional cuisine.
If you love nothing more than to spend winter on the ski slopes, or perhaps you fancy taking up a new hobby in retirement, then some of Europe’s best skiing is found in France. Whilst the French Alps and its fashionable resorts maybe the most ‘famous, there is also skiing available in the Pyrenees in the south, the centrally located Massif Central, and the Jura and Vosges regions in the northeast of the country. Whether you choose to settle in one of the skiing regions, where many resorts, such as Chamonix, have large permanent expatriate populations or elsewhere in France you will have easy access and plenty of choice for skiing and other winter sports activities.
Whilst the overwhelming majority of British residents in France live in the countryside, if you prefer to opt for living closer to the sea or simply to be able to explore the variety of landscapes that France has to offer, there is a fabulous and varied coastline. The French coast stretches for 7,400kms and offers a great diversity of beaches, coves, lagoons, islands and Europe’s biggest sand dune near Biarritz.
- Affordable property market
Most British people that move to France choose to live in the countryside, where there are many rural properties at very affordable prices – and with bargains to be had if you look for them, as many owners are keen to off load hard to sell properties. Of course, a low price shouldn’t be a reason to buy if the property and/or location doesn’t meet your needs so it’s important to think carefully about what they are.
If you’re looking to live in the heart of Paris or the much sought-after areas in the south of France, then you will likely pay a significant amount and will need a healthy budget.
Also, because so many Britons have already bought a property in France there is much information and tips on purchasing a home in France available to assist you which makes the whole process of buying a property in France that much simpler to navigate.
- Conveniently close & well connected
France is so incredibly convenient if you need easy and affordable access to the UK. From cheap flights to all airports in the UK, to driving, ferries and the Eurostar, there are plenty of travel options available.
France is also exceptionally well connected to the rest of Europe and has an excellent transport system within the country as well as across the continent which makes it easy to explore the bordering nations; from the Languedoc region or Biarritz coast and you can easily access Spain, from Lyon or other areas in the Rhone-Alpes region you can easily drive to Switzerland, and from eastern French cities you are just over the border from Germany.
Further afield, Italy, Portugal, Belgium, Greece, Scandinavia, and Eastern Europe are all well connected by train or plane.
- Culture & Art
France has a rich cultural heritage which the French are very proud of and extremely willing to share their knowledge about.
There are hundreds of museums and art galleries, of which Paris boasts some of the best and most famous in the World, the Louvre would take you a whole week to explore on its own! There are also thousands of churches, from grand gothic cathedrals to tiny, countryside churches; hundreds of royal and aristocratic chateaux and palaces as well as medieval villages and towns; not to mention the performing arts, from opera and ballet to pop and rock concerts; and there are a great many cultural festivals and wine and food events right across France.
9. Cheese & wine
If France is famous for anything, it’s got to be cheese and wine! And if you love either, or both (!), you’ll be in heaven. France produces around 1,000 types of cheese and has 17 wine-growing regions.
Wine is a way of life in France, they drink wine to accompany food, not as a substitute for it and with vineyards across the country you can explore am endless number of winemakers and types of wine. There are also wine schools and wine clubs you can join where you can build your knowledge of winemaking and get lessons in wine tasting.
Furthermore, the wines in France are a fraction of the price that we pay for them in the UK.
10. Varied scenery, diverse landscapes and stunningly beautiful
France is geographically diverse with an incredible variety of landscapes and environments, so whatever you are looking for from your new retirement home, it’s safe to say you will almost certainly find it in France. Whether you want a rural mountainous landscape, an alpine one, a stunning sun-drenched beach or vibrant city life, France can deliver.
There are pockets of France that large numbers of Britons already call home, such as the Dordogne, Provençal regions, the Riviera and Brittany to name but a few and choosing an area where there are strong international communities can make for a faster and easier path to integration but exploring the country to find the right place for you to live can be fantastic and you can choose according to your climate and lifestyle preferences.
And of course, this is not just about the immediate environment in which you choose to settle and live but the beauty and landscapes you will have access to explore once you call France your new retirement home!