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11 BEST Places to Live in France [2020 Guide!]

Home to some awesome cuisine, oodles of nature, both Atlantic and Mediterranean coastlines, and some iconic cities and regions, France is an incredible place to be.

There’s nothing about France that’s stopping you from basing yourself here as a digital nomad. There are tons of places to make your home for the foreseeable future, all different and all pretty much great – depending on what you want, of course.

All that choice makes it pretty hard to narrow down your options. That’s where we come in with our guide to the best places to live in France.

Whether its big city living you want or you prefer something more compact by the sea (or with nicer weather), we’ve got the answers for you.

So, without further ado, let’s do this!

Staying Safe in France

France is a developed Western European country. As you might expect, it’s pretty safe. Chances are nothing terrible will happen to you if you choose to lay down your nomad hat here for a little while.

But that’s not to say there’s no crime. In fact, some places are relative hotbeds of crime. But these areas are probably places you won’t go anyway, or spend too much time in.

As with many countries, crime is concentrated in big, urban areas. Even then, it’s in specific neighbourhoods of these cities where crime is most rife, for example, around main train stations (such as Gare du Nord).

Pickpockets are the most significant issue, especially in cities such as Paris. It’s not unusual to see active pickpockets working on the metro, or near tourist sites. These are easily avoided just by being aware and watching out for suspicious individuals or groups who approach you.

Other than that, even though terrorism has reared its ugly head in recent years, incidents have been confined to specific events and locations. It’s sporadic and unpredictable, and chances are you won’t be affected by it at all.

So all in all, as long as you keep your street smarts about you and trust your gut in certain areas or situations, you’ll be totally fine. France will be yours for the taking!

Check out our ultimate guide to Digital Nomad Insurance!

#1 Paris

Paris

“Paris is the iconic French capital packed with endless entertainment.”

Monthly Cost of Living in Paris

$2720/ month 

Cost of Rent
in Paris

$1034/month

You could probably explore Paris forever and never, ever be bored. The world-renowned capital of France, this city has so much going for it that it basically needs no introduction. Besides all the tourist sites – the big museums, the Eiffel Tower, the Arc d’Triomphe – there’s still more stuff to do in this awesome city.

You could find yourself in one of its many storied music venues and catch an international act or two, you could spend your time wandering canals and historic neighbourhoods, or you could simply find a local cafe and sit sur la terrasse and watch the world go by with brunch or coffee. The options you’ll have are endless.

Pros of Paris

  • Unparalleled nightlife
  • So much to see and do
  • International community

Cons of Paris

  • Very, very expensive
  • Gets very crowded with tourists
  • Winter can be pretty cold

There are SO many places you could base yourself in Paris, depending on what sort of scene you want to get involved with, of course.

There’s trendy Pigalle, to start with. With its bars, boutiques, and gourmet hotspots, this alternative district is definitely one for the trend-lovers.

Elsewhere, Belleville-Menilmontant is an artsy enclave, with grassy parks to stroll around and a laid-back, boho vibe mixed with cosmopolitan cool that suits creative types. Days here mean browsing galleries and leafing through vintage bookshops.

Nomads Nation - Digital Nomad Tip

Want to get some work done when you’re in Paris? Then head to HUBSY Arts et Métiers. This coworking space in the 3rd arrondissement is one of the best in Paris – great coffee, professional but friendly vibe, plenty of natural light.

#2 Bordeaux

Bordeaux

“Wine-loving nomads should head straight to Bordeaux.”

Monthly Cost of Living in Bordeaux

 $1292/ month 

Cost of Rent
in Bordeaux

$620/month

Bordeaux is the fifth-largest city in France and is most famous for – you guessed it – wine. But although the wine is amazing, there are a lot of other things that make Bordeaux a cool place to be. For one thing, it has a ton of well preserved historic buildings that form the core of its very own UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Mixed into its long history is a surprisingly dynamic scene of millennial urbanites and high-tech start-ups. This helps create buzzy enclaves around the city, and all the things that come with it – from cool cafes and hip bars to galleries, co-working spaces, and even music venues. It’s definitely a city on the up, that’s for sure.

Pros of Bordeaux

  • Wine!
  • Good air quality (on average)
  • Easy to walk around

Cons of Bordeaux

  • Can get quite crowded
  • Not so much to do as other places, e.g. Paris
  • Slightly expensive

Bordeaux has a fair few cool neighbourhoods to base yourself in if you do plan on making the move to this wine-producing region.

One of them is Les Chartrons. This is a SoHo sort of area with a village feel to it – a social housing district with an unsavoury reputation turned sought-after hipster hangout.

If you’re after something a little less alternative but with awesome transport connections to explore further, Saint Michel is the place to be. Once unpopular, it’s now packed with cool cafes and vibrant food markets.

Nomads Nation - Digital Nomad Tip

One of the best coworking spots in Bordeaux has to be WIGI Bordeaux Coworking Cafe. It’s modern with minimalist decor, great coffee (obviously), good vibes all around, and a fair price—pay per hour or per day. There’s even a basement for board games!

#3 Cannes

Cannes

“Cannes is for nomads who want a taste of old-school glitz and glamour.”

Monthly Cost of Living in Cannes

$2758/ month 

Cost of Rent
in Cannes

$985/month

Known globally for its famous film festival and for being a playground for the wealthy, Cannes is all about luxury. This coastal city has it all – fancy hotels and high-end restaurants, yes, but also historic architecture and gems of local eateries hidden amid its streets.

Part of the appeal of Cannes is its long, warm summers. This makes this coastal city perfect for days spent lounging around on the sandy beaches and evenings strolling along the coastal promenade with its illuminated palm trees. But you don’t need tons of cash to enjoy Cannes; you can still find authentic life here.

Pros of Cannes

  • Glamourous coastal living
  • Great base for exploring more of the French Riviera
  • Easy to get businesses up and running

Cons of Cannes

  • SUPER expensive
  • It's not always warm (winters aren't great)
  • Difficult to meet other nomads

Away from the glitzy tourist hangout that is La Croissette, there are a handful of neighbourhoods in Cannes that make for good spots for just about any type of nomad.

Le Suquet is one of these. It’s the old medieval quarter of Cannes, which was once a village in its own right. Many locals live here, which means local bars, local restaurants, local life, and a family atmosphere.

Another is Le Cannet. This place has art galleries and a cultural, creative feel. It’s much more casual than the city centre and has a number of affordable places to base yourself.

Nomads Nation - Digital Nomad Tip

Locoworking – with its fast wi-fi, friendly working environment, and proximity to public transport – is easily one of the best coworking spaces in Cannes. It’s a great place to get productive and meet likeminded people.

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#4 Lyon

Lyon

“If you’re into history (and food), Lyon should be on your list.”

Monthly Cost of Living in Lyon

$2093/ month 

Cost of Rent
in Lyon

 $902/month

Lyon’s cityscape reflects a jaw-dropping 2,000 years of history. There’s a Roman amphitheatre, medieval architecture, and tons more historic buildings and areas that make living here a dreamy prospect. One of the most unique parts is the Traboules: a series of passageways dating to the 4th century AD (and still in use today).

Alongside its storied history, Lyon is famous for its gastronomy. It’s often touted as the “gastronomic capital of the world”, and to be fair, it’s definitely up there. There are age-old regional specialities here and local wines, as well as more recent additions to the culinary scene (French tacos, for example) that show it’s still got a growing appetite!

Pros of Lyon

  • Lots of fun activities
  • Family-friendly
  • An amazing food scene

Cons of Lyon

  • Can be overly touristed
  • English levels aren't so high
  • It can be tricky to make new friends

If Lyon sounds like the kind of place you could definitely live in France, you’ll probably want to know what neighbourhoods may be best for you.

Here you’ll have the chance to live in the city’s historic core, Vieux Lyon. Located at the foot of Fourviere Hill, this place has Roman ruins, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and beautiful courtyards. It’s quiet and calm.

For something a little more lively, try St Catherine. This central-northern area is where you’ll find theatres, cinemas and museums. A reputation for energetic nightlife makes this place a magnet for boho city-dwellers.

Nomads Nation - Digital Nomad Tip

Coworking Lyon is where you should make a beeline for if you’ve got some work to do. It’s modern, it’s sleek, and arguably the best coworking space in the city. What’s more, it’s located on the 5th floor of the historic Citroen Building (7th arrondissement), complete with city views.

#5 Montpellier

Montpellier

“Get your kicks in Montpellier: a gem of a city in the south of France.”

Monthly Cost of Living in Montpellier

$1920/ month 

Cost of Rent
in Montpellier

$723/month

Montpellier is yet another of France’s historic cities. Situated near the Mediterranean coast, it’s the capital of the Herault department and is awash with beautiful buildings. Its Gothic cathedral, for example, dates back to 1364; throughout the city, its 19th-century boulevards and centuries-old mansions are nothing short of charming.

Its history is also tied in with its education credentials. The University of Montpellier was founded in 1160, making it the oldest in the world! In fact, Montpellier is a thriving student city, home to no less than three universities; one-third of its population are students. Half of those living in the city are under the age of 35. It’s a youthful sort of place.

Pros of Montpellier

  • Spacious and open city
  • The air quality is fairly good
  • Young, creative population

Cons of Montpellier

  • Cold in winter
  • Not a lot of entertainment options
  • It's not very family-friendly

Montpellier has a wealth of options for those looking to set up base in the city. Gambetta, for example, is close to the city centre but has low rent rates, which makes it popular with cool kids and creatives.

In the eatery-strewn Boutonnet, you can expect to find a hub of student inhabitants. That’s probably because it’s close to campuses and schools. But it’s also near the Beaux Artes district, which is trendy in its own right.

For something a bit more historic, Arceaux has a more local, small-town feel about it, and comes complete with a market – and a Roman aqueduct. More popular with young professionals and young families.

Nomads Nation - Digital Nomad Tip

Cowork’in Montpellier is one of the best coworking spots here. It provides a great place to get some work done in the city, offering all the essentials for a nice, chilled working environment. Otherwise, Square Cocoon Coworking is more fashionable and has a creative mindset.

#6 Dijon

Dijon

“Dijon is known for its namesake mustard, vineyards, and awesome gastronomy.”

Monthly Cost of Living in Dijon

$2017/ month 

Cost of Rent
in Dijon

$620/month

The ancient capital of the Burgundy province in eastern France, Dijon has a UNESCO-recognised city centre filled with marvels of architecture. It’s often cited as one of the most beautiful cities in France, with much of its historic buildings undamaged by bombing during World War II.

The city was actually once a crossroads in the Roman era, straddling Northern Europe and the Mediterranean. And it all grew from that. Nobles of the past shaped the city, which was once known in the Renaissance era as “the City of 100 Towers”.

Today, it’s cosmopolitan – think strolling pretty pedestrianised streets, sipping coffee on cafe terraces, and dining on gourmet meals.

Pros of Dijon

  • Fairly safe
  • Eminently walkable
  • A lot of fun stuff to do

Cons of Dijon

  • English isn't widely spoken
  • It can be difficult to socialise
  • Bit small if you want a big city to explore

For those who want to create a home for a while in Dijon, it’s good to note that this eastern French city is popular with young French and has a healthy student population.

Base yourself in Toison d’Or, and you’ll be in a newly developed part of the city. Here you’ll find shopping complexes, grocery stores, and city parks aplenty. Bonus: housing is cheaper than it is further into the city centre, but transport is still good.

Port du Canal is closer to central Dijon, and while it can get busy with tourists, it’s a generally relaxing and charming place to be. There are many museums and cinemas to entertain residents, and a slew of restaurants and bars, too.

Nomads Nation - Digital Nomad Tip

If you’re looking for a coworking space in Dijon, look no further. The professional Startway Coworking Dijon, located inside a renovated historic building, boasts high ceilings, plush carpets, and an ideal central location.

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#7 Marseille

Marseille

“Coastal Marseille is France’s second city and boasts port city living by the bucketful.”

Monthly Cost of Living in Marseille

$1797/ month 

Cost of Rent
in Marseille

$592/month

Marseille is a multicultural city that’s been a hub of trade and immigration ever since it was a Greek colony way back in 600 BC. It’s one of the oldest cities in Europe, but it comes with a substantial sprinkling of urban grit. Nonetheless, Marseille recently had a bit of a glow-up when it became the 2013’s European Capital of Culture.

It’s not just urban living and history that make Marseille what it is today. Basing yourself in Marseille means having access to some of the country’s most interesting gastronomy, as well as being well-positioned to explore the French Riviera to the east.

Pros of Marseille

  • Food is amazing
  • Affordable rent compared to other French cities
  • Great base to explore

Cons of Marseille

  • Not the most beautiful city
  • Some level of petty crime
  • Weather isn't always fantastic

Not everywhere in Marseille is going to be great for a nomad to live, but the city is ever-changing, and areas seem to be getting facelifts every few years.

One of these neighbourhoods that has seen such regeneration is Jolette. It was once a run-down ferry port but has been updated in recent years into a shiny hotspot, complete with mall, museum and waterside walkways.

Notre Dame du Mont is another neighbourhood that was formerly not so pleasant (due to crime levels), that’s seen a transformation. Today, this multicultural district is a creative hub, with street art, cafes and cool restaurants.

Nomads Nation - Digital Nomad Tip

Smack Coworking is a great contemporary co-working space in Marseille. This place is professionally run, with the mission of connecting likeminded people. It’s bright, light, and feels warm and welcoming from the moment you arrive.

#8 Avignon

Avignon

“Nomads with an eye for art and architecture should make note of Avignon.”

Monthly Cost of Living in Avignon

$2024/ month 

Cost of Rent
in Avignon

$689/month

Once upon a time, this was where the Popes were based. That’s right; from 1309 to 1377, it was the home of Roman Catholicism (not Rome). This – and the fact that the city was Papal property until the French Revolution – has left a lasting impression on the aesthetics of the city; it’s still dominated by the UNESCO-listed Palais des Papes.

But it’s not all about the past. In July each year, Avignon gets its art on with the Festival d’Avignon. This month-long bonanza is the biggest of its kind in France. Think plays, poetry, music, and fun times in general. Outside of festival season, the city boasts leafy boulevards and a good restaurant scene.

Pros of Avignon

  • It's very pretty and historic
  • It's not crowded
  • It's got good air quality

Cons of Avignon

  • Can get really hot in the summer
  • English isn't widely spoken
  • Small city - could be too small for some

If you’re thinking about basing yourself in the storied city of Avignon, no sweat; there are plenty of great neighbourhoods here for you to consider.

Les Angles is a good option. Situated on the north bank of the River Rhone, this hilltop village offers a low cost of living compared to the city centre. It’s got an arty heritage and a laid-back atmosphere.

More lively, and located inside the city walls, Vernet is where to go if you like nightlife and fun times. Here you can find plenty of restaurants and bars to entertain you; in summer, Vernet’s squares are awash with terrace cafes.

Nomads Nation - Digital Nomad Tip

There are a few good coworking spaces in Avignon to check out. La Passerelle balances the serious business side of things and a modern coworking vibe for great results. Elsewhere, there’s L’etable; it’s friendly, has pleasant spaces to work and great internet speeds.

#9 Nice

Nice

“Nice is the French Riviera hangout for holiday-goers and sun-seeking nomads.”

Monthly Cost of Living in Nice

$2094/ month 

Cost of Rent
in Nice

$869/month

Another gem in the French Riviera crown, Nice is the chilled capital of the Alps-Maritimes department. This is a slice of sophistication with a lot to offer both visitors and those who choose to stay here long-term. Nicknamed Nice la Belle (“Nice the Beautiful”) this is an attractive city that’s been a magnet for everyone from painters to the English nobility.

And it’s still a magnet today. In fact, it’s one of the most visited cities in France. Living here means not only great transport connections and a somewhere international vibe, but also the sought-after ideal that is coastal living. Spend your days stroll the Promenade des Anglais, lounging on the beach, and exploring the downtown district.

Pros of Nice

  • Tons of fun activities to enjoy
  • Laid-back coastal living
  • Awesome in summertime (warm and sunny)

Cons of Nice

  • Too many tourists at times
  • Can be very expensive
  • Not awesome in winter (too cold)

It’s probably no surprise that Nice has some pretty nice (sorry) areas to live and work. There’s enough of a selection that you’ll be able to find something that you like and that suits you.

To really soak up the city’s history, you could base yourself in the city’s old town, Vieux Nice. This colourful enclave remains almost unchanged from the 16th century – architecturally, anyway. Think meandering backstreets and local life.

For something a little different, hit up Cimiez. It was once a popular spot for aristocrats on their winter retreats (even Queen Victoria once had a place here). It remains elegant with museums, city views and pretty parks.

Nomads Nation - Digital Nomad Tip

Le LABO Coworking is a renovated space inside an old building. It’s cool, yes, but it’s also welcoming, managing to strike a balance between professional and pleasant. A fun alternative is Les Satellites, a creative hotspot where you’ll no doubt get to know the people you’re sharing the space with.

#10 Toulouse

Toulouse

“Cool, historic and cultural, Toulouse is a good all-rounder.”

Monthly Cost of Living in Toulouse

$1487/ month 

Cost of Rent
in Toulouse

$722/month

Known as the “The Pink City” due to its buildings’ use of terracotta bricks and tiles, Toulouse is the charming capital of the Occitan region. Its historic district is a charming spot, but this urban sprawl is actually the fourth largest city in France.

Accordingly, there’s a lot going on here. Toulouse boasts one of the largest universities in France outside of Paris (also one of the oldest in Europe), and it’s the centre of the European aerospace industry – complete with the largest space centre in the continent. Toulouse has come a long way since its Roman foundations.

Pros of Toulouse

  • Great entertainment options
  • Lots of other nomads come here
  • Internet speed is fast

Cons of Toulouse

  • English levels are not great
  • Can be hard to socialise and meet other people
  • Winters are cold here

For a quiet residential neighbourhood where you can get into local life, nomads should make a beeline for the Les Chalets/St. Aubin area. Here you’ll find an international food scene, Sunday markets, bookshops and cute bars.

Similarly, Carmes also offers a bustling atmosphere, with plenty of restaurants, bars and cafes to discover, all mixed with old homes and gated courtyards.

Elsewhere, the multicultural St. Cyprien is a student enclave where the cool kids hang out. There’s an endless list of things to do here, too: check out the museums, explore contemporary art galleries, and enjoy its under-the-radar food scene.

Nomads Nation - Digital Nomad Tip

For somewhere cool to work in Toulouse, try HarryCow Coworking. This is an awesome spot, easily one of the best in the city. The team (who speak English) that runs everything makes you feel immediately welcome. It’s a favourite of nomads who spend summers in the city.

#11 Strasbourg

Strasbourg

“Bold, bright, buzzing, San Juan is the place to be for party people.”

Monthly Cost of Living in Strasbourg

$1973/ month 

Cost of Rent
in Strasbourg

$692/month

Strasbourg is the capital of the Grand Est region of France. Situated along the River Rhine, Strasbourg is actually next-door neighbours with Germany (being situated at the actual border). As such, the culture is a unique blend of French and German, something typical to the Alsace region where it sits.

Alongside Brussels, Luxembourg, and Frankfurt, Strasbourg is one of the de facto “capitals” of the European Union. Here, you’ll find cultural institutes reflecting that, as well as museums dedicated to the history of the city. One of the earliest centres of book-printing in Europe, Strasbourg is a learned place with a student population to match.

Pros of Strasbourg

  • Picturesque place to live
  • Connections to other parts of Europe are great
  • English is widely spoken

Cons of Strasbourg

  • Busy with tourists in summer
  • Not loads of stuff to do
  • Living cost is expensive

With that forward-looking, multicultural European mindset, there are numerous interesting areas to base yourself to really get to grips with Strasbourg.

Neudorf is one of them. This neighbourhood has undergone a dramatic revitalisation and, as such, has attracted a diverse array of young people and on-trend businesses.

But if being close to nature is important to you, Orangerie is the place to be. Here is where you can find plenty of green spaces for jogs, picnics and strolling – plus, it’s close to the university and the European Parliament.

Nomads Nation - Digital Nomad Tip

Hello’Working is probably the best place for coworking in Strasbourg. It’s an Instagram-worthy spot with modern interiors, plenty of greenery, and a friendly, welcoming atmosphere. Great for meeting people and getting work done, mixing work and relaxation.

Final Thoughts on the Best Places to live in all of France

So that was that, people – our guide to the best destinations in France for digital nomads. There are so many cool places to base yourself in this country. All of those cities are worth a shot!

Maybe you want to base yourself in the capital and have all the benefits of a capital city, or maybe you want something a bit more chilled and artsy in the form of Avignon, or perhaps Strasbourg with its pan-European feels is more your thing.

With so many great cities to choose from, it’d be hard to go wrong, really. In fact, you could spend time in one city before moving onto another – great for getting a well-rounded taste of France. If that sounds good to you, bon voyage and enjoy!

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Written by Aaron Radcliffe

City dweller. Dumpling crusher. Aaron is a serial entrepreneur, and the founder of Nomads Nation. Connect with Aaron Radcliffe -
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