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Which parts of France are the safest to live in?

If you are looking to live in a safe part of France, where crime rates are the lowest, then you need to head to the the rural centre of the country (or one particular part of Normandy), figures given to The Local reveal.

Which parts of France are the safest to live in?
Photo: AFP

Readers often ask us what the safest part of France is when it comes to crime.

The Local has had access to the latest national crime index by France's Interior Ministry, which sheds light on what types of crime are happening where and just how big a difference in criminality there is between different parts of the country.

In short, the safest parts of France are in rural departments although it's not always a case of staying clear of the big cities, as the recent spike in burglaries in rural Dordogne proves.

But it is a case of avoiding Paris.

Residents of France's three safest departments are nine times less likely to be the victim of a crime than Parisians.

The study gathered data on armed and unarmed robbery, robbery without violence, vehicle and vehicle parts theft, burglary, theft from vehicles, assault and battery, murder, rape, sexual assault and sexual harassment.

The figures were taken from each departmental police HQ across France in 2017.

For serious crimes such as murder, rape, sexual assault and sexual harassment the figures were presented as an average of the past three years, given the complexity of these cases and ongoing investigations that could change the figures in due course, France's Interior Ministry pointed out. 

So what parts of France have the lowest crime levels?

The sparsely populated department of Cantal in south central France is officially the country’s safest.

In 2017, crime only affected 9 in 1,000 people living in this picturesque part of the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region. There were only four armed robberies and 76 cars stolen, in a department with a population of 146,000.

There were also only 572 thefts from people, which includes pickpocketing. In real numbers this compares to 134,021 in Paris, the city of light fingered thieves.

There were also only 232 burglaries in Cantal in 2017, which was the second lowest rate of all departments in France.

As for the more serious crimes Cantal saw an average of 1.5 murders a year over the last three years, 23 reported rapes and 35 sexual assaults.

Scroll down for crime map of France and ranking of 25 safest departments

READ ALSO: Where in France are you most and least likely to be burgled?

Aerial shot of Cantal. Photo: Clement Larrive/Flickr

Far up north in Manche, a Normandy department named after the Channel that separates France from Britain, crime is also extremely low. This beautiful coastal area, with a population of half-a-million people has the second lowest delinquency rate in the country with fewer than one in 100 people falling victim to crime.

In 2017, only 570 homes were broken into out of a total of 291,252, the lowest rate in all of France. There were also just 369 vehicles stolen in 2017. Compare that to over 10,800 in the southern department of Bouches-du-Rhône. 

There were also only 11 armed robberies in Manche last year and just 50 violent robberies.

Manche saw 4.3 murders a year over the last three years, 110 reported rapes and 175 reported sexual assaults or harassment.

The coastal town of Carolles in Manche. Photo: Yola Simon/Flickr

Completing the podium for France’s safest departments is Aveyron, famed for its Roman ruins and medieval castles. The southern department in the region of Occitanie, which shares a border with Cantal, had only 11 armed robberies in 2017 and 43 violent robberies.

The average crime rate for this department was 10 crimes per 1,000 people.

There were just under 600 burglaries in 2017, far fewer than the nearby department of Haute-Garonne (8,972 burglaries) which had the highest burglary rate in the whole of the country.

There were also just 176 cars stolen in the whole of 2017, one of the lowest figures in all of France.

The department of Aveyron has experienced just one murder a year over the last three years, 41 reported rapes and around 88 reported sexual assaults.

The historical department of Aveyron is one of France's safest. Photo: Phillip Cappe/Flickr

The fourth, fifth and sixth spot on the list were taken by three other neighbours of Cantal: Lozère, Creuse and Haute-Loire, making this area of south-central France the safest overall in which to live.

Lozère, another Occitanie department near the Massif central, had the lowest number of cars stolen in France in 2017 at just 54, lowest number of armed robberies with only two cases and the lowest number of assault cases (165).

In Lozere there were also just 157 burglaries – the third lowest rate in all of France.

When it came to serious crimes, Lozère had the lowest incidence of rape in France with eight annual cases and recorded only one murder a year out of a population of just over 76,000.

Creuse in the heart of central France was also ranked among the safest areas of France. It had the lowest rate of assault in the country, with a one in a thousand chance of being the victim of physical violence.

It also had one of the lowest burglary rates in the country with just 315 break-ins in the whole of the year, 80 vehicle thefts and just three armed robberies.

It did however come in fifth on the list for murders in France, with two murders on average each year among the 120,581 residents.

Beautiful Creuse. Photo: Nameless_1/Flickr

Haute-Loire another rural central France department is also among the country's safest. 

It scored lowest in France for robbery without violence, which includes pickpocketing, but the burglary rate in this picture-perfect spot on the banks of the Loire river was higher than average for the area with 44 out of every 1,000 homes suffering a break-in.

There were just 172 cars stolen throughout the year.

Completing the top ten safest departments of France are Mayenne in Pays de la Loire in northwest France, Corrèze in Nouvelle Aquitaine, Lot in Midi-Pyénées and Haute-Saone in the north east.

Mayenne, where the departmental capital carries the same name, scored the sixth lowest rate of car theft nationwide with 233 vehicles stolen.

The inhabitants of Tulle and Brive-la-Gaillarde, Corrèze’s two main towns, will be glad to find out that theirs is the lowest armed robbery rate in all of France, with just three armed robberies in the whole of the year.

Lot, home to breathtaking cliff-top villages, is another department of Occitanie with very low crime rates. It has the second lowest percentage of assault cases and one of the ten lowest rates of armed robberies.  

Orne, a small department of Normandy not far from Paris, just missed out on the tenth spot due its rate of sexual assault and harassment — third highest in the country — when looked at as a percentage of its population.

Police in every department of France, including the safest areas, reported at least one murder case per year. 

The map below shows France's departments colour-coded to show which have the lowest crime rates and which have the highest.

Green shows the safest departments, followed by yellow, orange and the red with the highest crime rates. Paris is coloured purple due to the fact the crime rate is far higher than anywhere else in the country.

What about crime in your area? Click here or on map for a high quality map you can zoom into or download 

The 25 departments in France with the lowest crime rate are:

1. Cantal
2. Manche
3. Aveyron
4. Lozère
5. Creuse
6. Haute-Loire
7. Mayenne
8. Corrèze
9. Lot
10. Haute-Saône
11. Orne
12. Gers
13. Côtes-d'Armor
14. Jura
15. Meuse
16. Indre
17. Dordogne
18. Ardennes
19. Eure-et-Loir
20. Saône-et-Loire
21. Vosges
22. Allier
23. Vendée
24. Ardèche
25. Haute-Corse

All of the departments listed above had 16 or fewer crimes for every 1,000 inhabitants in 2017. 

by Alex Dunham

SEE ALSO: Where in France are you most (and least) likely to be burgled?

Photo: [email protected] Photos

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Mutuelles: Why is French health insurance getting more expensive?

France’s top-up health insurance 'mutuelles' have been getting steadily more expensive in 2020. Here’s a look at what’s changing, why and who is the worst affected.

Mutuelles: Why is French health insurance getting more expensive?
A dentist is checking the teeth of an elderly lady in a nursing home in Paris. Photo: AFP

“The prices have never been so high in France,” said Fabien Soccio, spokesperson for the company Meilleure Assurance (Best Insurance).

His company this week revealed the results of a new study of France's private health insurance fees, mutuelles, to French media.

After comparing 55 different mutuelles health insurances, Meilleur Assurance concluded that there had been a general spike in the average cost.

What is a mutuelle?

France has generous state health care that covers a lot of medical expenses, but not all costs are reimbursed.

In France you pay upfront for your doctor's appointment, prescription or procedure and then the government reimburses the costs to you. Depending on the procedure and your situation, usually about 80-90 percent of the cost is reimbursed.

If that cost is a €25 appointment with your GP that's not such a big deal, but with more expensive treatments the costs can mount up, which is where a mutuelle comes in.

The mutuelle is a 'top-up' insurance – not obligatory, but recommended – which covers extra costs that are not covered by the state. How much a mutuelle covers will depend on the kind of insurance, where you live and the expenses in question.

If you are an employee, your employer must pay for at least half the cost of your mutuelle

Who was affected by the price increase?

The 2020 price hike touched the country as a whole, however some regions and population groups were harder hit than others, Soccio told Le Parisien.

To compare the costs for different socio-demographic groups, Meilleur Assurance created three different types of profiles; a 25-year-old employee with a “classic” mutuelle; a couple with two children, also on a “classic” mutuelle and a 60-year-old couple with “strengthened” guarantees in their mutuelle.

Seniors hardest hit

Retirees tend to go for fuller versions of mutuelles because these cover additional costs (such as dental and optical treatments). 

Seniors on extensive types of mutuelles were those suffering the steepest price increases this year, Soccio said. 

“In 2020, fifteen départements exceeded a threshold of €3,000 in annual fees for a senior couple with extra guarantees,” Soccio said.

“That’s an average increase of more than €176 in one year,” he said.

For the couple with a child, the increase was slighter ( an extra 4 percent), whereas the young employee saw health insurance bills largely unchanged.

READ ALSO Brexit: Do I need a mutuelle to get residency in France?


.. along with Parisians

The study also revealed large price differences between different regions, with inhabitants in the Paris region Ile-de-France paying the highest bills for their mutuelles.

A retired couple would pay on average €528 more if they lived in Paris compared to if they lived in a more rural, cheaper département like Mayenne.

Similarly, employees would pay 30 percent more on average in Paris than in Pays-de-la-Loire.

Parisians also saw the steepest price increases since last year, by 14.6 percent on average for the retired couple with a mutuelle covering extra costs.

On a national level, the average price increase for the same couple was 12.1 percent. 

.. but everyone was a little worse off

However the country as a whole saw a price increase last year, with even those opting for the cheapest kinds of health insurance affected by the general price hike.

In one year, from 2019 to 2020, the cheapest type of health insurance had increased by 13.7 percent, according to the study. 

Why the increase?

Prices generally increase a little every year, but this year was unusual, Soccio said.

“Today, we are in an uncertain and troubled situation,” he told Europe 1, listing several factors that had contributed to the price increase: the Covid-19 pandemic, the government's new health reform known as “100 percent Santé”, and a new health tax known as the “Covid surtax”.

When the French government presented their new budget for 2021, centred on their dazzling €100 billion relaunch plan, they promised not to increase taxes for the French. Instead, to top up their savings a little, the government introduced a new tax, the “Covid surtax”, which will be paid through the mutuelles and other health insurance companies.

This tax will provide €1 billion in total to the state in 2021, and €500 million in 2022, according to French media.

What about the future?

Soccio said he worried the trend of prices increasing would continue in the next couple of years, leading to steep prices for even those opting for the cheaper mutuelles.

“It's safe to bet that the national average costs will pass €3,000 in the next two years,” he told Le Parisien.