Rennes the best city for foreigners in France: A look at the data

The Local has tried to determine what city in France is the best for foreigners to live in in terms of quality of life. Here's a look at the data behind it.

Rennes the best city for foreigners in France: A look at the data
Photo: AFP

Which city in France is the best for foreigners to live in, when it comes to all-round quality of life?


By our calculations it was Rennes, in Brittany. Before you ask where Paris came, the answer is fifth.


The full list of categories we looked at were: International air links, rail links, average monthly rent, unemployment rate, hours of annual sunshine, nightlife, distance to the beach, number of Michelin restaurants, best or easiest accent to understand, number of cultural sites/activities, greenest city, air quality, percentage of singles in the city, number of regional or national parks within two hours drive, and quality of public transport.


Full rankings: 

Rennes: 128

Nantes: 122

Bordeaux: 120

Toulouse: 115

Paris: 114

Lyon: 111

Montpellier: 107

Nice: 104

Grenoble: 102

Lille: 101

Marseille: 92

Clermont-Ferrand: 91

Strasbourg: 87

For each category we looked at an existing study and ranked the cities from 13 for the best down to one for the worst.

In some cases there were ties so the cities received the same points.


1. Air links

Number of international flight destinations

(All official airport websites)


13: Paris: 312, 2 international airports, plus Beauvais

12: Bordeaux: 126

11: Nantes: 90

10: Lyon: 84

9: Nice: 75

8: Toulouse: 66

7: Marseille: 64

6: Rennes: 59

5: Lille: 33

4: Montpellier: 20

3: Strasbourg: 13

2: Grenoble: 11

1: Clermont-Ferrand: 5 (no English-speaking countries)


2. Rail links

TGV line, journey time/number of trains to Paris daily

(Worked out from the SNCF website)

13: Paris: Obviously Paris has the best rail links in the country, serving national and international destinations.

12: Lille: TGV, 1 hr to Paris, 24 per day

11: Lyon: TGV, 2hrs to Paris, 29 per day

10: Rennes: TGV , 2 hrs 15 mins to Paris, 26 per day

9: Nantes: TGV, 2 hrs 15 mins to Paris, 22 per day

8: Strasbourg: TGV, 2.5 hrs to Paris, 16 per day

7: Bordeaux: TGV, 3 hrs 15 mins to Paris, 33 per day

6: Marseille: TGV, 3.5 hrs to Paris, 21 per day

5: Grenoble: TGV, 3 hrs to Paris, 9 per day

4: Montpellier: TGV, 3.5 hrs to Paris, 16 per day

3: Nice: TGV, 5.5 hrs to Paris, 12 per day

2: Toulouse: TGV, around 6 hours to Paris, 14 per day

1: Clermont-Ferrand: no TGV, 3.5 hrs to Paris, 7 regular trains per day


3. Average Monthly Rent

From the site:

The average monthly rental for a French home is €624 ($678), according to online renting portal LocService.

The stats are based on the 65,500 homes rented out across the country via the website during 2015. Using the same site, here is cheapest to most expensive.


13: Clermont-Ferrand – €462

12: Rennes – €470

11: Nantes – €519

10: Grenoble – €533

9: Lille – €554

8: Toulouse – €581

7: Strasbourg – €591

6: Montpellier – €595

5: Bordeaux – €629

4: Marseille – €630

3: Lyon – €654

2: Nice – €685

1: Paris: €1,014


4. Best place to work/unemployment rate




Unemployment rate by city with data from last three months of 2015


13: Rennes: 8.0 percent

12: Grenoble: 8.3 percent

11: Nantes: 8.4 percent

10: Clermont-Ferrand – 8.7 percent

9: Paris: 8.8 percent

8. Lyon: 9.2 percent

7: Bordeaux: 10 percent

6: Strasbourg: 10.3 percent

6: Toulouse: 10.3 percent

4: Nice 10.6 percent

3: Lille: 10.9 percent

2: Marseille: 12.6 percent

1: Montpellier: 13.2 percent


5. Hours of sunshine (best to worst)


13: Marseille – 2,858

12: Nice – 2,724

11: Montpellier – 2,668

10: Grenoble – 2,066

9: Bordeaux – 2,035

8: Toulouse – 2,031

7: Lyon -2,002

6: Clermont-Ferrand – 1,913

5: Nantes – 1,791

4: Rennes – 1,717

3: Strasbourg – 1,693

2: Paris – 1,662

1: Lille – 1,617


6. Best nightlife


Study by, based on bars in, Number of inhabitants per bar


13: Clermont-Ferrand: 1401

12: Lille: 1440

11: Rennes: 1670

10: Bordeaux: 1672

9: Grenoble: 1691

8: Nantes: 1727

7: Lyon: 1767

6: Paris: 1964

5: Montpellier: 2237

4: Strasbourg: 2405

3: Nice: 2454

2: Marseille: 2492

1: Toulouse: 2614


7. Kilometres to the coast (best to worst)

13: Nice – 0 km (one of two coastal cities, but much better beaches)

12: Marseille – 0 km (bad beaches)

11: Montpellier – 8 km to the south

10: Nantes – 43km to Pornic on the west coast.

9: Bordeaux – 50 km to the west coast

8: Rennes – 54 km to Cherrueix on the north coast

7: Lille – 62 km to Bray-Dunes on north coast (special mention: 61 km to De Panne, in Belgium!)

6: Toulouse – 140 km to the south

5: Paris: 150 km to north coast, Dieppe

4: Grenoble – 209 km to Cannes, south coast

3: Clermont-Ferrand – 259 km to the south coast

2: Lyon – 260 km to the south coast

1: Strasbourg – 488 km to the northern coast


8. Number of Michelin-starred restaurants


13: Paris: 92

12: Lyon: 15

11: Marseille: 6

11: Strasbourg: 6

9: Clermont-Ferrand: 4

9: Nice: 4

7: Toulouse: 3

7: Bordeaux: 3

5: Montpellier: 2

4: Nantes: 1

4: Lille: 1

4: Rennes: 1

1: Grenoble: 0


9. Best accent

We worked this out by a combination of two studies or rankings that we accept are by no means watertight.


13: Toulouse – First on Topito (12 percent), 70.2 percent on Parship thought charming

12: Nice – Provencal accent scored second on Topito (10 percent)

11: Nantes – Breton accent scored third on topito breton, and 26 percent on Parship found it “intelligent”

11: Rennes- Breton accent scored third on topito breton, and 26 percent on Parship found it “intelligent”

9: Paris – Fourth on Topito (8 percent)

8: Clermont-Ferrand (No info from the 2 studies) Neutral

8: Bordeaux (No info from the 2 studies) Neutral

8: Grenoble (No info from the 2 studies) Neutral

8: Montpellier (No info from the 2 studies) Similar to Marseille?

4: Strasbourg – Alsacien, 8th

3: Lyon – ninth topito

2: Lille 5th topito, 74 percent find Chti funny

1: Marseille 72.2 of Parship thought it was funny.


10. Cultural sites and activities

Trip Advisor “Sights and Landmarks” + Museums

Museums, churches, cathedrals, sacred/religious sites, historic sites, monuments/statues, cemeteries, castles

13: Paris: 628

12: Nice: 87

11: Marseille: 83

10: Lyon: 80

9: Bordeaux: 71

8: Strasbourg: 69

7: Toulouse: 54

6: Lille: 49

5: Montpellier: 37

4: Nantes: 36

3: Grenoble: 23

2: Rennes: 20

2: Clermont-Ferrand: 20


11. Greenest city

Green space per inhabitant. Green space data from tourism websites, INSEE population data


On average, France’s big cities have:

– 31 m² of green space per inhabitant

– 11 trees per hectare (but only 0.2 trees per inhabitant)

– Average green space budget per inhabitant: €47

– on average, invest 1.2 % of budget on green space


13: Rennes:  8,680,000 m², 207,178 inhabitants, 42 m²

12: Nantes: 34 m²

11: Bordeaux: 25 m²

10: Toulouse: 7,600,000 m², 441,802 inhabitants, 17 m²

9: Grenoble: 2,350,000 m², 155,637 inhabitants, 15 m²

9: Strasbourg: 4,000,000 m², 271,782 inhabitants, 15 m²

9: Montpellier:  3,930,000 m², 257,351 inhabitants, 15 m²

6: Lille: 12 m²

5: Clermont-Ferrand: 1,500,000 m², 139,860 inhabitants, 11 m²

4: Lyon: 4,360,000 m², 484,344 inhabitants, 9 m²

4: Nice: 3,000,000 m², 343 304 inhabitants, 9 m²

2: Marseille: 6,400,000 m², 850,726 inhabitants, 7.5 m²

1: Paris: 9,950,000 m², 2,243,833 inhabitants, 4 m²


12. Proximity to regional and national parks

Google Maps – within 2 hour’s drive

13: Paris: 6: Haute Vallée Chevreuse, Oise Pays-de-France, Vexin Francais, Gatinais Francais, Montagne de Reims, Perche

13: Lyon: 6: Pilat, Chartreuse, Massif des Bauges, Livradois Forez, Vercors, Ecrins

13: Montpellier: 6: Cevennes, Grands Causses, Camargue, Haut Languedoc, Narbonnaise, Alpilles

10: Grenoble: 5: Chartreuse, Écrins, Vercors, Vanoise, Pilat

10: Marseille: 5: Calanques, Verdon, Luberon, Alpilles, Camargue

8: Clermont-Ferrand: 4: Volcans d’Auvergne, Livradois Foret, Millevaches, Cevennes

8: Toulouse: 4: Haute Languedoc, Causses de Quercy, Pyrenées Ariegeoises, Narbonnaise

8: Lille: 4: Scarpe-Escaut, Avesnois, Caps et Marais, Oise Pays de France

5: Strasbourg: 3: Ballons des Vosges, Vosges du Nord, Lorraine

4: Nantes: 2: Briere, Loire Anjou Touraine,

4: Nice: 2: Mercantour, Verdon

4: Rennes: 2: Brieres, Normandie-Maine

1: Bordeaux: 1: Parc naturel régional des Landes de Gascogne


13. Air Quality

13: Nice: 5 (ranking)

13: Montpellier: 5

11: Toulouse: 7

10: Strasbourg: 11

9: Nantes: 15

8: Rennes: 18

7: Clermont-Ferrand: 19

6: Bordeaux: 21

5: Marseille: 22

4: Paris: 26

3: Grenoble: 28

2: Lyon: 29

1: Lille: 30


14. Most singles


13: Lille

12: Rennes

11: Toulouse

10: Bordeaux

9: Montpellier

8: Grenoble

7: Nantes

6: Lyon

5: Paris

4: Clermont-Ferrand

3: Strasbourg

2: Nice

2: Marseille


15. Best public transport

Unfortunately Paris was not included in the study so we gave the city the average score, based on the fact the transport is clearly good, but is beset with problems. Just ask commuters on the RER trains. Once the Grand Paris comes into existence then the rankings may change.

13: Lyon

12: Lille

11: Toulouse

10: Rennes

9: Bordeaux

8: Grenoble

7: Paris

6: Nantes

5: Strasbourg

4: Marseille


2: Nice

1: Clermont-Ferrand

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What changes in France in July 2022

Summer's here and the time is right for national celebrations, traffic jams, strikes, Paris beaches, and ... changing the rules for new boilers.

What changes in France in July 2022

Summer holidays

The holiday season in France officially begins on Thursday, July 7th, as this is the date when school’s out for the summer. The weekend immediately after the end of the school year is expected to be a busy one on the roads and the railways as families start heading off on vacation.

READ ALSO 8 things to know about driving in France this summer


But it wouldn’t really be summer in France without a few strikes – airport employees at Paris’ Charles de Gaulle and Orly airports will walk out on July 1st, while SNCF rail staff will strike on July 6th. Meanwhile Ryanair employees at Paris, Marseille and Toulouse airports will strike on yet-to-be-confirmed dates in July.

READ ALSO How strikes and staff shortages will affect summer in France

Parliamentary fireworks?

Prime minister Elisabeth Borne will present the government’s new programme in parliament on July 5th – this is expected to be a tricky day for the Macron government, not only does it not have the parliamentary majority that it needs to pass legislation like the new package of financial aid to help householders deal with the cost-of-living crisis, but opposition parties have indicated that they will table a motion of no confidence against Borne.

Parliament usually breaks for the summer at the end of July, but a special extended session to allow legislation to be passed means that MPs won’t get to go on holiday until at least August 9th. 

Fête nationale

July 14th is a public holiday in France, commemorating the storming of the Bastille which was the symbolic start of the French Revolution. As usual, towns and cities will host parades and fireworks – with the biggest military parade taking place on the Champs-Elysées in Paris – and many stores will remain closed.

As the national holiday falls on a Thursday this year, many French workers will take the opportunity to faire le pont.

Festival season really kicks in

You know summer’s here when France gets festival fever, with events in towns and cities across the country. You can find our pick of the summer celebrations here.

Paris Plages

The capital’s popular urban beaches return on July 9th on the banks of the Seine and beside the Bassin de la Villette in northern Paris, bringing taste of the seaside to the capital with swimming spots, desk chairs, beach games and entertainment.  

Summer sales end 

Summer sales across most of the country end on July 19th – unless you live in Alpes-Maritimes, when they run from July 6th to August 2nd, or the island of Corsica (July 13th to August 9th).

Tour de France

The Tour de France cycle race sets off on July 1st from Copenhagen and finishes up on the Champs-Elysée in Paris on July 24th.

New boilers

From July 1st, 2022, new equipment installed for heating or hot water in residential or professional buildings, must comply with a greenhouse gas emissions ceiling of 300 gCO2eq/KWh PCI. 

That’s a technical way of saying oil or coal-fired boilers can no longer be installed. Nor can any other type of boiler that exceeds the ceiling.

As per a decree published in the Journal Officiel in January, existing appliances can continue to be used, maintained and repaired, but financial aid of up to €11,000 is planned to encourage their replacement. 

Bike helmets

New standards for motorbike helmets come into effect from July 1st. Riders do not need to change their current helmets, but the “ECE 22.05” standard can no longer be issued – and all helmets sold must adhere to a new, more stringent “ECE 22.06” standards from July 2024

New cars

From July 6th new car models must be equipped with a black box that record driving parameters such as speed, acceleration or braking phases, wearing (or not) of a seat belt, indicator use, the force of the collision or engine speed, in case of accidents.

New cars II

From July 1st, the ecological bonus for anyone who buys an electric vehicle drops by €1,000, while rechargeable hybrids will be excluded from the aid system, “which will be reserved for electric vehicles whose CO2 emission rate is less than or equal to 20g/km”.

What’s in a name?

Historically, the French have been quite restrictive on the use of family names – remember the concern over the use of birth names on Covid vaccine documents? – but it becomes easier for an adult to choose to bear the name of his mother, his father, or both by a simple declaration to the civil status. All you have to do is declare your choice by form at the town hall of your home or place of birth.

Eco loans

In concert with the new boiler rules, a zero-interest loan of up to €30,000 to finance energy-saving renovations can be combined with MaPrimeRénov’, a subsidy for financing the same work, under certain conditions, from July 1st.

Rent rules

Non-professional private landlords advertising properties for rent must, from July 1st, include specific information about the property on the ad, including the size of the property in square metres, the area of town in which the property is in, the monthly rent and any supplements, whether the property is in a rent-control area, and the security deposit required. Further information, including the full list of requirements for any ad, is available here.

Perfume ban

More perfumes are to be added to a banned list for products used by children, such as soap-making kits, cosmetic sets, shampoos, or sweet-making games, or toys that have an aroma.

Atranol, chloroatranol (extracts of oak moss containing tannins), and methyl carbonate heptin, which smells like violets, will be banned from July 5th, because of their possible allergenic effects.

Furthermore, 71 new allergenic fragrances – including camphor, menthol, vanilin, eucalyptus spp. leaf oil, rose flower oil, lavendula officinalis, turpentine – will be added to the list of ingredients that must be clearly indicated on a toy or on an attached label.

Ticket resto limits

The increased ticket resto limit ended on June 30th, so from July 1st employees who receive the restaurant vouchers will once again be limited to spending €19 per day in restaurants, cafés and bars. The limit was increased to €38 during the pandemic, when workers were working from home.