France is a country that has something for everyone, with its cities and regions having a certain je ne sais quoi, making them very appealing! Send My Bag have put together this blog on the best cities to visit in France, whether you’re planning on studying abroad, going on holiday or even moving there.
The city of love, lights and a whole lot more! In Mercer’s 2019 quality of living survey, Paris ranked in the top 50 cities with the highest quality of life, coming in 39th place, ahead of London and other cities such as Barcelona, Milan, Madrid, New York, Tokyo, Rome. Whilst Paris is known to be one of the most expensive cities to live in France, it is cheaper than other cities in Europe. In an annual cost of living index by Mercer, Paris was shown to be cheaper than Milan, Dublin, Copenhagen, Zurich, as well as the UK’s capital, London. Walk around Paris on a day-to-day basis and you will be continually impressed by the endless charm of the city. Haussmann-style buildings, 16th century bridges, and the sparkling Eiffel Tower make for some of the most picture-perfect surroundings. Not to mention the other Parisian landmarks, like the Louvre, Arc de Triomphe, Basilica of the Sacré-Coeur and many more. Living in Paris gives you the opportunity to explore the beauty beyond the tourist hotspots, finding the hidden gems and treasures in Paris! Complimenting the stunning Parisian architecture are the tree-lined boulevards and avenues, as well as the parks and gardens in the heart of the city. When you want to escape the hustle and bustle of the centre, you can go for a stroll in one of the city’s many 18th-century parks and gardens and have regular picnics – perhaps with a front row view of the Eiffel Tower!
If you are moving to France for work, then Paris is one of the best places to move to, as there is a significant focus on business in the city. La Défense in Paris is the largest business district in Europe, attracting business enthusiasts as well as tourists wanting to see the Grande Arche, an architectural landmark dominating the Paris skyline, overlooking the plaza of La Défense and the surrounding districts in central Paris. The city is divided into twenty arrondissements, which are simply densely populated neighbourhoods. The second arrondissement, along with the eighth and ninth is an important business district in Paris, as it is home to a large number of banking headquarters. Another popular arrondissement is Bastille which is expensive due to its popularity, but apartments are slightly more affordable to the east of the district. Getting around the city is easy due to the extensive public transport system, that also makes travelling to other destinations in France and further in Europe more convenient. You can buy a weekly Paris Navigo Pass for 22.80 euro, which is a transport card for using the Paris metro system.
Along with Paris, Lyon ranked in the top 50 cities with the highest quality of life in Mercer’s 2019 quality of living survey, ahead of London and cities in Europe like Barcelona, Milan, Madrid and Rome. Lyon is often referred to as the gastronomical capital of France, with its city centre being home to 15 Michelin star restaurants! Head to Le Vieux Lyon, where you will find some of these Michelin starred restaurants. As Lyon’s oldest district, Le Vieux Lyon is Europe’s most extensive renaissance neighbourhoods, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You can wander off and lose yourself among its charming medieval streets – lined with 15th and 16th century buildings, hidden courtyards, little boutique shops and fine-dining restaurants. If Lyon is somewhere you have thought of moving to and would like to work there, popular industries include banking, chemical, pharmaceutical and bio-tech. The digital sector is also big in Lyon, with the city being part of the EU’s ‘Smarter Together’ project, which is promoting sustainable technologies in cities. Surrounded by the Alps, Lyon is ideal for adventure-seekers who are particularly interested in skiing and hiking, with the nearest ski-resort being just over one hours drive away.
Montpellier has grown in popularity, and one of the key factors for this is the fact that the city is a little less overcrowded and overpriced than Paris. However, Montpellier still possesses the vibrance and culture of a major city like Paris, and what’s even better is that the city is located near the south coast of France on the Mediterranean Sea, meaning that you would never be too far from a beach! You can also travel from Montpellier to Paris using the TGV train, which would take just over three hours. The attractiveness of Montpellier has meant there has been plenty of investment into new and exciting developments in the city. For example, the conversion of a former military base into a now start-up scene called Halle Tropisme. Particularly popular amongst students is the array of bars and restaurants, as well as the laidback café culture, bringing a young and hip feel to the city. Université de Montpellier is the highest-ranked university in Montpellier, and being established in 1289, it is one of the oldest institutions in the world.
Bordeaux has often been referred to as the ‘sleeping beauty’ of France, but the liveliness of the city certainly says otherwise. The Place des Quinconces in Bordeaux is one of the largest city squares in Europe, and therefore, the square is lit up with festivals, concerts and markets throughout the year. Bordeaux is one of the fastest-growing cities in France, with a strong focus on technology and sustainability. The city is home to La French Tech, which is a government backed start-up association covering 25,000 jobs and 400 tech businesses. There is also a multi-use cultural and sustainable hub by the Garonne river called the Darwin Ecosystem, as some of the things in it include an urban farm, a wellness centre, an indoor skate park made of recycled materials, co-working spaces and France’s largest organic restaurant. Bordeaux is in a great location, with it being only two hours from Paris on the high-speed train, a two-hour drive to skiing in the Pyrenees, and beaches are approx. 30-40 minutes outside of the city.
Situated on the French Riviera, Nice is a popular attraction due to its long stretch of stunning beaches and the warm Mediterranean climate. As well as the picturesque perched villages and towns nearby, like the notorious and lavish Cannes and Monaco, only 30-45 minutes away from Nice via train. If you are wanting to move to France, Nice is one of the best places to live if you’re seeking a better work-life balance, compared to a city like Paris, better for career-focused individuals as a business-oriented city. Nice is somewhere you can enjoy quite a laidback and lavish lifestyle, with two-hour lunch breaks from work being quite common. However, this comes at a cost, as prices in Nice have been comparable to those in Paris. A must-see in Nice is its old town Vieux Nice, lined with cobblestone streets, colourful houses, and cosy squares. There is no better way to soak up its charm than sitting outside with a drink and people-watching. Another must-do is the climb up Castle Hill, where you will have panoramic views of the city, the harbour and the mountains. If Nice is somewhere you would like to live, an example of a residential area is Cimiez as a very family-friendly neighbourhood, or Le Carre d’OR as one of the most high-end areas.
Whether you want to go to France for a holiday, or would like to make a permanent move there, you can use our luggage shipping service to send whatever you need to wherever you would like to go in France.
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Study for a Degree in France