8 of the Best Cities To Live in France as an English Speaker

Cafes shrouded in tress on the streets of Paris, France

In most cases, France has topped the list of places foreigners wish to relocate. Some reasons why the country is a magnet to foreigners include the easy way of life, welcoming people, favorable weather conditions, and high quality of life. Explore the best cities to live in France and experience these attractions firsthand.

As an English speaker, some of the best cities to live in France include:

  • Paris
  • Toulouse
  • Lyon
  • Dordogne
  • Brittany
  • The Luberon
  • Lake Geneva
  • Juan-Les-Pins

Over 90% of the population in France speak French as their first language. As an English speaker, you must evaluate the cities friendly to English speakers before relocating.

This article explores the best cities in France where you can live comfortably as an English speaker. 

Besides, if you are moving to France without a job, check out this guide.

Living in France as an English speaker

Being an English speaker shouldn’t hinder your quest to relocate to France, as the language is the second most common in the country, with 24% of the population using it.

Although learning a few French words before relocating will help you as you settle, you could pick up the language after staying in the country for a while.

As an English speaker, moving to a city where English proficiency is higher in the country will make you feel at home and make your settling hassle-free.

Some of the best cities to live in France as an English speaker include:

Best Cities to Live in France #1: Paris

Bird eye's view of Paris, France, showing buildings and the river.

As France’s capital, many non-French-speaking foreigners make their initial stop here and live here, making it the most English-friendly city.

In north-central France, the city is on the Seine. Interesting, the city has various nicknames, including the most common, the city of light. The city’s early street lights gave it its moniker.

As of February 2022, Statista placed the city’s population at 2.14 million, slightly declining over the last decade.

Nearly 30,000 foreigners live in Paris, and the number will climb. Since it’s the capital, English speakers choose to settle here before moving elsewhere.

Diversity and the city’s multicultural nature attract foreigners who find it easy to settle here. Given the different vibrant industries, finding a job in the town as an English speaker isn’t as hard.

Some common opportunities in the city that can give you a headstart in your career as an English speaker include:
  • English teacher
  • Nanny
  • Bartender
  • Tour guide
  • Finance
  • Information technologist

As a non-French speaker, you must read this article on finding a job in France with no French.

Read the guide on the most common jobs in France.

If you are highly qualified in your area of expertise, it becomes easy to land a high-paying job, especially if you’re from the EU, EEA, and Switzerland, as you don’t need to apply for a work permit.

The minimum wage in the country stands at 1,470 EUR with an hourly rate of 10 EUR and 35-hour work weeks. You can negotiate better rates if you are highly skilled at your craft.

Read our guide on salaries in Paris.

Unfortunately, the cost of living in Paris is high, and it was ranked the 5th most expensive city in 2020.

Despite this, most foreigners choose this place due to its free healthcare and education, accessible to every resident.

If you’re a young foreigner aged below 26 years, you can access the museums in the city for free. If you are older than that, you must wait for the first Sunday of every month for the freebie.

Best Cities to Live in France #2: Dordogne

Landscape in Dordogne, France showing the mountains and river.

The entire Dordogne region is a common place for English speakers living in France. The area is highly saturated with foreigners; some in the informal sector refer to it as “Little England.”

The region is the 3rd biggest county in France, located in the country’s South-West region between the Aquitaine basin and the Massif Central. Dordogne’s population stands at close to 410,000 residents.

Dordogne is popular with English speakers because it’s slower than Paris. Its enormous landmass gives it a rural feel. Dordogne is ideal for foreigners wanting to experience French life.

Brits have, for the longest time, preferred to settle in Dordogne, which has attracted other English speakers to the region. 

Living in Dordogne is affordable compared to other regions like Paris, where life is expensive. Property prices in the region are considerably low, with some areas selling at 890 EUR per square meter.

Since the region has a rich cultural legacy and a thriving tourism economy, English speakers can work as tour guides. Nannies, translators, and English teachers are also available.

Agriculture is the main economic activity in Dordogne, with the wine sector being a major player. Dordogne is your place if you are an expert in the field.

Dordogne’s big towns Bergerac and Bordeaux offer more IT, financial, and marketing jobs due to their growth.

What jobs are in-demand in France?

Best Cities to Live in France #3: Toulouse

A photo of the houses and a bridge 
located in Toulouse, France

As the fourth largest city in France, it falls among the top preferred places to reside in France by English speakers.

The city is located in the Occitanie area, the capital city of the Haute-Garonne department in the South-Western part of the country. 

Toulouse is a big city, with its population hitting the 1,049,000 residents mark in 2022. The rapid growth in population in the area is attributable to the city’s economic development.

Initially, Toulouse City was a history, art, and cultural hub, which has since transitioned to a modern city with aerospace and technology taking center stage.

English speakers coming to France choose to settle in the region as the city has a large number of expats transiting through the city and residing here, which makes settling easier.

The city also has more opportunities for English speakers than other regions in the country.

Some of the major English speaker’s careers one can take up in Toulouse include:
  • Schools teachers
  • Universities lecturers
  • Aeronautics
  • Engineering
  • Biotechnology
  • Electronics
  • Logistics
  • Nursing 
  • Nannies
  • Tour guide
  • Hotel industry careers

Check out this guide on salaries in France.

As Toulouse’s industries advance, you can advance your career. As local job prospects develop, experts who hone their skills may be quickly absorbed.

English speakers love Toulouse because the locals are welcoming. Its international airport makes it more accessible to visitors and a convenient transit hub for expats.

According to Numbeo, the average net salary for most jobs in Toulouse is 2,500 EUR, while the cost of living stands at 1,400 EUR.

Even if you made the average salary, you could save some money and enjoy Toulouse.

The Mediterranean and Atlantic oceans are an hour’s drive from the city. If you like coastal activities, Toulouse is a good choice.

The Pyrenees mountain is also close by, so if hiking and mountaineering are your things, then the city will be perfect for you.

Best Cities to Live in France #4: Lyon

A photo of a cathedral at the end of a bridge in Lyon, France

Lyon is the third largest city in France, located in the South Eastern part of the country. As of 2021, over 1,500,000 people live in the vast region of Lyon.

The city is lovely because the Rhone and Saone rivers meet there. It is the Auvergne-Rhone Alpes and Rhone capital.

Lyon, 20% cheaper than Paris, is ideal for English speakers in France. The locals are welcoming and the city is lively. The big metropolis speaks English, making it easier to get work than rural areas.

Lyon is the largest industrial town in the country, therefore job possibilities are always available, making it a great place to start a career. Major local industries include:

  • Gastronomy
  • Energy
  • Logistics
  • Agriculture and food
  • Health
  • Textile
  • Technology
  • Engineering
  • Food

All these industries are always looking to fill up opportunities as they arise, so if you’re good at your craft, it won’t take long before you land a job in your sector.

Lyon is an education hub with some of the best universities. It’s for this reason that most international students are found in Lyon. This also makes it easy for you if you’d wish to advance your studies or join the institutions as an English teacher or translator.

Lyon is a UNESCO heritage town with a rich history and cultural background. The climate in the region is favorable for most foreigners, with the two major rivers adjacent to it giving it the Mediterranean weather.

The cost of living in Lyon is lower compared to Paris. The difference between the two cities is estimated to be 1,000 EUR, which is a lot as it means you’ll spend 1,000 EUR more in Paris compared to Lyon.

The shopping, pharmaceutical, and banking industries, which employ many foreigners, make the city ideal for foreigners.

Lyon’s public transportation is well-established, so you don’t require a car when you move in.

Its location makes it easy to reach The Alps, Italy, Paris, and Switzerland.

The fact that Lyon never has a dull day is something foreigners like. The enormous number of local and international students makes the nightlife lively, especially on weekends.

Lyon is great if you wish to experience France’s multiculturalism and functional metropolitan life.

Don’t miss out on our guide about rent prices in France.

Best Cities to Live in France #5: Brittany

A photo of Britanny, France at night, the streets filled with lights.

If you speak English and want to go to France, consider Brittany. From the North-Western to the Atlantic Ocean, its coastline is rough.

Brittany has nearly four million citizens and Rennes as its capital. Brittany has a unique microclimate due to its humid Atlantic climate and chilly Northcoast.

Life in Brittany is cheaper than elsewhere. living is affordable due to the combination of seaside and rural living.

Farms in Brittany provide fruits and vegetables, making food affordable. Brittany has abundance of seafood.

Most Brittany towns have rents between 350 and 600 EUR, cheaper than Toulouse. Brittany can fulfill your goal of owning a country house in France with a big house for 100,000 EUR.

English speakers like Brittany since it’s economical and full of expats. Choose Brittany for a calm life away from the metropolis.

The Brits make up a large population of foreigners in the region, with most residing in the major towns that include:
  • Brest
  • Rennes
  • Vannes
  • Saint-Malo
  • Dinan
  • Roscoff

The major employers in the region are the tourism, hotel, and agricultural sector. So if your expertise is in these sectors, it’ll be easy for you to land a job in the area.

Brittany is a favorite for most expats looking to retire in France. It gives you the countryside feel of France away from the loud city life.

Once in Brittany, the excellent food, music, and friendly residents will convince you to stay.

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