Moving countries is a daunting task and for some, locations with an established expat community in France offer a level of comfort to ease them gently through the transition. Here are some of the best.

Whilst some choose to move to France in order to completely submerge themselves into authentic French life, there are many other considerations when looking for that ideal location. This could be anything from concerns over communication when language skills may not yet be fine-tuned, to finding reliable tradespeople that could avoid making costly mistakes during renovations. Likewise, for people planning to set up future businesses, you’ll be thinking about your customer base, or, if you have children, finding somewhere integration is smoother – there are many reasons why an expat community in France is of importance to many.

Like any other country, France draws people from many other countries looking for a different way of life, but in particular from the UK. More and more people are choosing to settle here, so no matter where you ultimately chose to live, there will always now be a multicultural element but there are some places that have a noticeably higher expat community in France than others. Here we look at some of our favourites.

Brittany

The upscale resort of Dinant.

The upscale resort of Dinant.

Viewed as an upmarket seaside resort Dinard is a commune in the Ille-et-Vilaine department of Brittany. Having gained a reputation originally amongst wealthy American and British visitors in the 19th century, this wonderful resort offers fine sandy beaches for lovers of the seaside as well as provides guided tours of the many homes of grandeur littered along the cliff tops. Originally France’s top resort prior to the takeover by St Tropez in later times, this resort is truly a little gem although due to its popularity, comes at a price. On top of its easy access to and from the UK, the seaside lifestyle, casino and the annual British Film festival make it a particularly enviable proposition for the expat community in France and is now home to a large number of expats and their families.

Average house property prices here are around 3,654 € per m²

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Pays de la Loire

The beautiful Mayenne département.

The beautiful Mayenne département.

Mayenne in the Pays de la Loire is one of the original 83 departments created during the French Revolution of 1790. The town of Mayenne itself is renowned for beautiful river walks with the town split into two distinct parts – the Notre Dame and Saint-Martin areas. With an impressive castle and a centre steeped in history, this town offers the perfect balance of history against modern life and “buzz” with plentiful shops, cafes and restaurants. Surrounded by tranquil countryside, one of the big reasons for the popularity of Mayenne is that it is said to be “in the middle of nowhere yet close to everywhere”

Average property prices here range from 851 € to 1703 € per m² for houses and slightly more for an apartment.

Aquitaine

The bustling market of Eymet. carlos martin diaz / Shutterstock.com

The bustling market of Eymet. carlos martin diaz / Shutterstock.com

Situated in the beautiful department of Dordogne is Eymet – a Bastide town very popular with British expats who make up a third of the population. Both historic and picturesque, set beside the river Dropt it too provides that perfect balance of a thriving centre with lots of life whilst the countryside surrounding it offers a more tranquil existence to those who seek it. Having managed to retain parts of its defensive walls, castle and stunning bridge it is a place which attracts many tourists alongside offering business opportunities for those who settle here and provides magnificent countryside for walkers, ramblers and those looking to relax and unwind. Very busy in summer although quieter in winter, unlike some towns and villages in France it doesn’t shut down totally providing year round opportunities. The weekly markets and Anglo/French association are just two of the reasons for this town’s popularity within the expat community in France.

Average property prices here range from 694 € to 1790 € per m² for houses with apartment prices averaging slightly lower.

Occitanie

Carcassonne's instantly recognisable citadel.

Carcassonne’s instantly recognisable citadel.

One of France’s top tourist destinations, Carcassonne, capital of the Aude attracts many people and for good reason. For lovers of history, this is one of the places to beat and you can almost feel yourself being transported back to medieval times. The grandeur of the architecture is breath taking and if you have the budget to spend time in one of the castle hotels you can truly imagine being a prince/princess for a day. From museums and historic sites, a wealth of restaurants and cafes as well as efficiently organised tours and activities, Carcassonne truly is a place where you can feel yourself transported into a completely different world.

Average property prices here are around €1350 per m² for houses with apartment prices also averaging slightly lower.

Provence-Alpes Côtes d’Azur

Old buildings in the Valbonne.

Old buildings in the Valbonne.

Provence – the place famed for unending lavender fields, olive groves and vineyards. Provence’s popularity was certainly projected to new levels of popularity with a little help from the author Peter Mayle, writing about his spectacular new life here. With a name meaning “The good valley” beautiful Valbonne in the Alpes-Maritime is situated along the river Brague and consists of two parts – the old Village where family and simple enjoyment of life “rules”, in stark contrast to the high tech bustle of Sophia Antipolis. Valbonne is quite rightly proud of its diversity and offers a warm welcome to everyone whilst very much projecting a message of living and working together regardless of differences. Its proximity to Nice clearly makes it an attractive tourist destination as well as providing homes, job opportunities and amenities for a range of people of all ages and all interests.

Property prices here are at a premium of around €5242 per m² for houses with apartment prices averaging substantially lower.

Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes

Lyon, France's gastronomic capital.

Lyon, France’s gastronomic capital.

Situated in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, Lyon is the third largest city in France and the second largest urban area of France.  It provides life and excitement as well as plentiful employment opportunities. On top of all the amenities that a city of this size and stature has to offer, it truly is spectacularly beautiful, steeped in history and oozing gravitas. Whether a lover of culture, food and drink or architecture, this city simply spoils you from every single angle. Although very “walkable” as a city, if you prefer to, get a one day metro pass and see how much of this great city you can explore in one day – it certainly won’t disappoint!

Average property prices here are around €5,112 per m² for houses however apartment prices are slightly lower.

About The Author

Beth Nicholson

A child of parents who met whilst living and working in Greece, having had a family home in Crete for almost 25 years and having studied in Grenoble, France in her twenties, Beth has always felt more at home in those countries than the UK. A Service Delivery and Operations Manager in the UK, she realised quickly that she approaches problems and challenges in a very different way to most and created a successful Operations Consulting business in the UK. In November 2017 she made the decision to transfer both her life and business permanently to Charente, France. Since then she has managed minor renovations on her home, established herself as an integral part of her commune and re-established her operations consultancy in France. Through Kalitera she provides business improvement and project management services to small businesses here as well as administrative support to individuals.

Buying a House in France Guide.

The France Buying Guide walks you step-by-step through each stage of the property buying process in France. Additionally, there are also practical recommendations from our experts who have been through the process themselves. The guide will help you to:


  Understand Brexit
  Find your property
  Ask the right questions
  Avoid losing money
  Avoid the legal pitfalls
  Move in successfully

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