Where are the ‘best’ French towns and cities to live in 2022?

Graffiti marks the side of a building in Mulhouse
Graffiti marks the side of a building in Mulhouse - ranked as the best city in France. (Photo by Sebastien Bozon / AFP)
A new ranking of French towns and cities according to job opportunities and real estate affordability has thrown up a number of surprises.

According to a new ranking, the city of Mulhouse near the borders with Switzerland and Germany is the best place to live in France. 

A study by Meteo Job and Meilleurtaux combined two factors to compile the ranking: job security and the affordability of housing. 

The percentage of the working age population with indefinite (CDI) work contracts served as a proxy for job stability. To calculate the affordability of housing, they examined how many squared meters of housing someone could buy on the median salary for that area. 

“This ranking shows that big cities like Paris, Marseille and Lyon don’t have the best results if we cross these two data sets,” concluded the authors of the survey. 

“Small and medium sized towns are starting to offer great opportunities with very high rates of permanent employment and entirely affordable prices per squared meter.”

You can find the full ranking below:

The top three 

Mulhouse, Orléans and Dijon rank as the the top three towns. 

Mulhouse has neither the highest level of indefinite employment nor the most affordable housing when combining the two, comes out on top. It held the same position last year. 

In an interview with Le Parisien, the authors of the study described it as a city that “is a little bit out of the way” but noted that it “benefits from proximity to Germany and from a dynamic economy with more job offers than demand for jobs.”

The former industrial city is nicknamed “the French Manchester” after its industrial past and also has a famous car museum. 

Orléans, a city to the south of Paris in the centre of France made it into the top three largely because it ranks highest for job security with 7.22 percent of the working age population holding CDI contracts. 

Like Orléans, Dijon is less than 2 hours to Paris on the train and has seen its population grown during the pandemic thanks to city dwellers seeking a breath of fresh air and more affordable property prices. 

The city of Dijon is run by a former labour minister who describes himself as an ecologist. It has a vibrant cultural scene with a 9,500 capacity arena, an opera house and a number of museums. The city centre is entirely pedestrianised. 

“These two cities are going from strength to strength. They offer a great quality of life, a comfortable amount of living space and many green areas,” said Maël Bernier, one of the authors. 

The bottom three 

Paris ranks at the bottom of the 31 town/city table, in large part because of property prices. This ranking corresponds to a survey of foreign residents earlier this year that found the French capital to be one of the worst places for people living abroad – reassuringly though, our readers did say there were some redeeming features. 

READ MORE ‘Parisians are quite lovely’: Your verdict on quality of life in Paris

Joining Paris at the bottom of the table were Nice and Montpellier, which scored particularly badly for job security. Both cities are located in the South of France, a part of the country which is overrepresented towards the bottom of the table with Toulon, Toulouse and Aix. 

With the exception of Paris, southern France is generally more expensive than the rest of the country as far as property prices are concerned. The impact of the pandemic and the shift towards distance working means that this matters more than ever. 

“We estimate that a third of jobs are done entirely remotely and another third partially remotely,” said Marko Vujasinovic, one of the authors to Le Parisien


Member comments

  1. Loved the comments on twitter from other towns. My own comment “Et Brest alors!? Ville dynamique, prés de l’ocean, les plus belles plages de France, etc etc….” and the lowest average rate of COVID infection throughout the pandemic.

  2. Interesting article but you’ve got it wrong when you speak of “The percentage of the working age population with indefinite (CDI) work contracts…”.
    If you read the info at the top of the table you’ll see that the percentage refers to the number of CDI job offers in October.
    Otherwise those percentages would be really low. Only “7.22 per cent of the working age population holding CDI contracts” in Orleans! I don’t think so.

  3. Hmm, I guess if you’ll ignore the opinions of the population – but Mulhousians seem to rather dislike it.

  4. Congratulations to Mulhouse! The city’s quality of life is so high that even its graffiti is magnificent! The photo here in the Local shows an example of “graffiti” that is an exceptional painting, almost resembling the work of Spanish artist Fabio Lopez Gonzalo , alias Dourone. And clearly the owner of the building and the police were so enlightened as to not enforce the laws by stopping the “graffiti” artist. The artist must have needed at least two weeks to apply the layers of plaster and paint. And yet the authorities allowed it to go forward! If this is the level of graffiti in Mulhouse, the fine art in the museums must be almost too beautiful to gaze upon.

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