Neighbouring Switzerland, who came in at the top spot, as well as the UK, Canada, and the US were all ranked above France in ninth (down from eighth last year), by the site US News.
It is the second year US News has published the list, in which it classes countries according to 65 criteria including nine main sub-rankings such as entrepreneurship, cultural influence, quality of life, and power.
France received a high mark of 8.8/10 with the ranking recognising the country’s influence “extends around the globe through science, politics, economics and perhaps above all, culture.”
So why has it fallen down a place to 9th best country?
The study reckons that the French government still has a lot to overcome.
“France faces various domestic challenges, most notably how it confronts terrorism in the wake of the November 2015 attacks in Paris that claimed 130 lives and a deadly attack on a satirical newspaper earlier that year,” US News writes.
“Prior to the November attacks, polls had shown public attitudes toward Islam and immigrants worsening. The country also faces slowed economic growth and growing unemployment. Joblessness is especially hitting the country’s youth and young adults.”
It may come as a surprise to those who moved to France for the great lifestyle, but France’s ranking was also dragged down by its quality of life.
Ranked at 16th overall for quality of life , France scored 0/10 points for affordability, 2.4/10 for safety, and 2.9/10 for income equality. Family-friendliness and political stability also scored low.
It was also marked down in the category of “a good jobs market”.
The quality of life ranking seems at odds with other quality of life surveys, where France usually scores very highly.
A expat survey in September didn't make pretty reading for France in general, but the country ranked an impressive fourth out of 45 when it came to quality of life, streets ahead of the US in 26th and the UK in 30th.
Expats who live in France lined up to say how their quality of life had risen since they moved to France.
by Lauren Belcher