Best Cities To Live in France as an English Speaker

France has, in most cases, topped the list of places foreigners wish to relocate. Some of the 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.

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 need to 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:

1. Paris

The city tops the list as the most friendly to English speakers as it’s the capital city of France, meaning many non-french speaking foreigners make their first stop here, and a good number opt to settle here.

The city is located along the river Seine in the North-central part of the country. Interestingly, the city has several nicknames, including the city of light, which is the most common. The name was coined from the city’s early adoption of street lighting.

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

Close to 30,000 foreigners have settled in Paris, and the numbers are expected to rise. Being the capital city, English speakers find it easier to settle here first before relocating to other cities in the country.

Diversity and the city’s multicultural nature attract foreigners who find it easy to settle here. Finding a job in the town as an English speaker isn’t as hard, given the different vibrant industries. 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, then 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, which are 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, then you have to wait for the first Sunday of every month for the freebie.

2. Dordogne

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 famous for English speakers as it’s not as fast-paced as other places like Paris. It’s also vast, with large tracts of land covering the region offering a countryside feel. As a foreigner looking to experience French life, Dordogne is a good choice. 

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.

Some of the jobs available in the region for English speakers include tour guides, as the area has a rich cultural heritage and the tourism industry is booming. In addition, nannies, translators, and English teachers are common opportunities in the area.

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

Bergerac and Bordeaux are some of the major towns in Dordogne where job opportunities are more diverse, including the IT sector, finance, and marketing areas, as the town is on a trajectory.

What jobs are in-demand in France?

3. Toulouse

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, and it’s 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 economic development of the city.

Initially, Toulouse city was 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.

Growing in your career in Toulouse is possible as the industries in the region keep advancing. If you are an expert and hone your skills in an area of expertise, you could get easily absorbed as employment opportunities in the region keep growing.

Toulouse is a great city for English speakers as the people are friendly and welcoming to visitors. It also has an international airport that connects it to other parts of the world, making it more accessible to foreigners and a great transiting point 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. This means even if you were to earn the average salary, you would afford to save some money and use the rest to enjoy yourself in Toulouse.

The city is located close to the Mediterranean and Atlantic oceans which are an hour’s drive from the city. This means if you’re a coastal activities enthusiast, then Toulouse would be 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.

4. Lyon

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 located at the intersection of the Rhone and Saone rivers, which makes it a beautiful city with two big rivers flowing right by it. It serves as a capital city for the Auvergne-Rhone Alpes and Rhone departments.

As an English speaker in France, Lyon offers a great choice as the cost of living in the city is 20% cheaper than in Paris. The city is vibrant, and the natives are friendly to foreigners. Since it’s a big city English is a common language, and getting a job is easier compared to rural settings in the country.

Given that Lyon is the largest industrial town in the country, job opportunities in the region are always forthcoming, making it an ideal city to kickstart your career.  Some of the major industries in the area 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 city is particularly favorable for foreigners, given the thriving shopping, pharmaceuticals, and banking industry which are major foreign employers. 

Lyon’s public transport system in the city is well established, so you don’t need to buy a car as you settle down. 

Its geographical location makes it ideal for connecting to other major places such as The Alps, Italy, Paris, and Switzerland.

One unique aspect in Lyon that foreigners seem to enjoy is that there’s never a dull day here. The nightlife is vibrant, especially over the weekends, given the high population of students, both local and international. 

So if you enjoy the city life where all amenities are functional and want to experience the multicultural face of France, then Lyon is your best bet.

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

5. Brittany

As an English speaker looking to move to France, you need to consider the Brittany region. It’s located in the North-Western part of the country and has a rugged coastline that extends to the Atlantic ocean.

Brittany is an extensive region with over four million residents; its capital is Rennes. Its location close to the Atlantic gives it humid weather, while other features like the Northcoast have a cooler climate, making Brittany a unique microclimate.

Life in Brittany is affordable compared to other regions in the country. Since the area offers a mixture of coastal life and the countryside, life is cheaper.

In addition, farming in the extensive region of Brittany makes food affordable as fruits and vegetables are made available from the farms. Seafood is also in plenty in Brittany.

Rent is affordable in most towns within Brittany, ranging between 350 EUR and 600 EUR, which is lower than in other regions such as Toulouse. If you’ve dreamt of owning a house in France, then Brittany can make that dream true as you could easily get a spacious country house at 100,000 EUR. 

English speakers prefer Brittany as many other ex-pats reside in the region, and it’s affordable. Brittany is your choice if you prefer a quiet life away from the city. 

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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