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France's 'best and worst' places to live and work

The Local · 16 Jul 2015, 17:23

Published: 16 Jul 2015 17:23 GMT+02:00

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Do you want to enjoy a great life expectancy, the country's lowest poverty percentage, and one of the most promising population growth rates in France? Then move to Genevois Francais on the Swiss border, the area with the best life quality in France - at least that's according to a new study published by Les Echos newspaper.
The study divided France into 304 employment zones (zones d'emploi), areas that can be cities or districts where people both live and work.
These zones were then ranked by population growth, life expectancy, household income, poverty rate, unemployment rate, percentage of single-parent families, percentage of people with a higher education, and those who have a licence to take part in competitive sport.
Based on these factors, it found that six of the top ten zones were close to the Swiss border, topped off by Genevois Francais, with Annecy in second, and nearby Ambérieu-en-Bugey in third. Fifth-placed Bourg-en-Bresse, sixth-placed Chambéry, and eighth-placed Bourgoin-Jallieu are all in the same cluster in eastern France (see top ten below).
1. Genevois Francais
2. Annecy
3. Ambérieu-en-Bugey
4. Nantes
5. Bourg-en-Bresse
6. Chambéry
7. Houdan
8. Bourgoin-Jallieu
9. Rambouillet
10. Rennes
First placed Genevois Francais, an area that borders the Swiss city of Geneva, ranked second overall in life expectancy with an average of 85 for the women and 79.1 for the men. It had the lowest poverty rate in the country at 9.6 percent, and ranked high in average income and second overall in population growth at 2.4 percent. 

(A map of Genevois Francais. Photo: Liam D/WikiCommons)
The area, an international hub, sees 40 percent of its residents working in Switzerland, and boasts a mostly young and international population.
The map below shows the concentration of the top 44 areas in dark green, many of which of near the Swiss border but also in the north west and near the Paris region. Click here to see the interactive version of the map courtesy of Les Echos. 

The study, which was based on a similar report from the New York Times in 2014, found that the bottom ten areas were almost exclusively in the far north of the country, and are coloured bright orange in the map above. Here are all ten, starting with Lens-Hénin in absolute last place.

304. Lens - Hénin
303. Thiérache
302. Maubeuge
301. Tergnier
300. Valenciennes
299. Boulogne-sur-mer
298. Saint-Quentin
297. Cambrai
296. Péronne
295. Dunkerque
Story continues below…
Geographer Hervé Le Bras, who has recently penned a book on the subject of inequality in France, noted that the areas that fared best had something in common.

"The zones that performed a bit better in France are the regions that don't have a strong state intervention, but actually the areas that were once religious and where Catholicism strongly resisted against the state," he told Les Echoes.

"There, you can find more solidarity and more associative practices."
He noted that many of the areas that performed poorly, such as the north east of the country, have historically been more rooted in the Republican regime. 
"These are the areas that defend Republican principles of equality and secularism, and expect a lot from the state - probably even now," he told the paper.
So where's the best place in France to be happy?
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