France’s ‘best and worst’ places to live and work

The areas in France offering the best quality of life were revealed in a study published on Thursday.

France's 'best and worst' places to live and work
Beautiful Annecy in south eastern France, ranked one of the best places to live and work in France. Photo: Emad Drwish
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
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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Paris moves up to 19th most ‘liveable’ city in the world

The French capital moves up 13 places on The Economist’s Liveability Index two years after it dropped down the list due to the damaging effect of recent terror attacks.

Paris moves up to 19th most 'liveable' city in the world
Photo: AFP

Paris is the 19th city in the world with the best healthcare, culture, environment, education, infrastructure, stability and urban safety. 

That’s at least according to British news magazine The Economist and its yearly Global Liveability Index, which this year put Vienna in first place on the podium (knocking Melbourne down to 2nd place after seven consecutive years on top).

Nineteenth position actually represents an improvement for The City of Light, as two years ago it saw the biggest decline of all 140 ranked cities, due to the “mounting number of terrorist attacks taking place in the city, and in other parts of the country, over the past three years”.

These include the July massacre in Nice where 85 were killed by a truck driver, the November attacks in Paris where 130 were killed, and the attacks in Paris from last January when 17 were killed.

According to The Economist, Paris has bounced back and now recorded one of the largest increases thanks to its impressive improvement in the safety category.

But going from 32nd to 19th place still means that la ville de l’amour, the highest ranked French city, lags behind other developed world cities such as Osaka (Japan), Calgary (Canada), and Sydney (Australia).

The second highest ranked French city on the list and the only other one among the top 50 is Lyon in 30th place.

If it’s any consolation for Parisians, other western megacities such as London and New York are even further down the liveability index in 48th and 57th place respectively.

“All three city are prestigious hubs with a wealth of recreational activities” – The Economist's study reads – “but all suffer from higher levels of crime, congestion and public transport problems than are deemed comfortable.”

“The question is how much wages, the cost of living and personal taste for a location can offset liveability factors.”

At the bottom of the table are Port Moresby (Papua New Guinea), Karachi, (Pakistan), Lagos (Nigeria), Dhaka (Bangladesh) and in last spot Damascus (Syria), ravaged by civil war for the past seven years.

SEE ALSO: The six best places to live in France (that you'd never consider)