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)

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Quality of life: How Paris ranked in annual global survey

Paris was ranked 39th in a global quality of life ranking, one place ahead of Lyon and while the capital city scored highly for transport and leisure, there was one category that held it back.

Quality of life: How Paris ranked in annual global survey
Photo: AFP

And while the drop may only be a small one, both French cities are very far from the top of the table drawn up by HR resource firm Mercer, using a variety of factors including transport, culture, education and security.

Nevertheless, Paris is still a very attractive place to live, Mercer says, noting that the top ranking cities are generally of medium size.

It was such a medium-sized city, the Austrian capital Vienna, that took the number one position in this year’s survey, with Zürich, Auckland, Munich, and Vancouver coming next. It was the 9th year in a row that Austria has topped the list.

Despite its fall from 38th to 39th place over the past year, the French capital is still a great place to live as it benefits from good transport, leisure and shopping infrastructure, the study said.

One thing that Paris fell down on, according to the survey was in the category of “medical and health considerations”, which is judged by a variety of factors including sewage, waste disposal and air pollution.

Paris has been dogged by spikes in air pollution in recent years which has prompted authorities to ban the most polluting cars from the city and make public transport free.

It came in a lowly 67th place in the table for this category, with Honolulu taking pole position and Helsinki and Ottawa taking joint second.

In the general rankings, Paris appears to be still struggling to climb back to its position of 27th place in 2015.

It plummeted ten places in the 2016 ranking – largely due to two major terror attacks in 2015, which saw 17 people killed in January and 130 in November.

Nevertheless it was ranked above its great rival London as well as other European cities such as Barcelona and Madrid.

But after that drop of ten places a spokesperson for Mercer was eager to stress the benefits of Paris.

“The Quality of Living in Paris remains very high with a very good rating for most criteria,” Mags Andersen told The Local. 
“Choice of a wide selection of international and private schools, excellent consumer goods facilities and variety of recreational and entertainment facilities. However, as for London, Paris still has lower scores for traffic congestion and air pollution.”


French soldiers patrol at the Eiffel Tower. Photo: AFP

Lyon, which was voted France's most attractive city in 2015, fell from 39th to 40th place in the rankings.

Mercer conducts its Quality of Living study annually to help guide multinational companies and other employers on how much to pay employees posted abroad.

It looks at a total of 39 factors including health care, schools, transport, shopping, leisure and cultural options, and security.

Sana'a in Yemen, Bangui in the Central African Republic, and the Iraqi capital Baghdad were the lowest ranking countries on the list.


How quality of life improves when you move to FranceA beach in Cabourg, northern France. Photo: AFP