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GRENOBLE

Grenoble: Is the ‘capital of the Alps’ the best French city to live in?

When it comes to the choice of cities in France Grenoble in the south east often goes under the radar but new surveys suggest the "capital of the French Alps" could be the place to live.

Grenoble: Is the 'capital of the Alps' the best French city to live in?
The picturesque city of Grenoble in south east France. Photo: AFP
When Parisians talk about leaving their beloved city to find more peace and space elsewhere in France or foreigners talk of the best French cities to live in, Grenoble rarely gets a mention.
 
Bordeaux yes, Nantes more and more, Rennes and Lyon always, but rarely does Grenoble, the picturesque city that stands at the foot of the French Alps in south eastern France get a look in.
 
But two new surveys in France plus some that are a little older suggest that the city surrounded by snow-capped peaks that boasts the world's first urban cable car could be the best city to live in France – if you are looking for a job or to set up business and, importantly, if you want to buy an affordable flat.
 
 
Firstly, a study by the French business magazine Challenges and business consultancy Arthur Loyd ranked Grenoble the third best city in France for business attractiveness – based on the potential for creating or relocating a business.
 
 
 
Grenoble was ranked behind Nantes and Rennes but the ranking, based on talent available, innovation, accessibility and being open to international markets, was positive news for the south east city. It was the second consecutive year it was ranked third.
 
The city's mayor Eric Piole welcomed the news.
 
“I know that Grenoble's business leaders can be one step ahead of tomorrow's global challenges. It's our lasting strength,” he said.
 
Piole also took to Twitter this week to brag about his city, this time for finishing top of an annual survey based on potential to find a job and buy a flat.
 
The second edition of the study by online property brokers MeilleurTaux.com and jobs site Jobijoba, weighed up the dynamism of the jobs market, average salaries, property prices and interest rates to come up with a list of the 20 best cities in France to live based on work prospects and potential to buy property. 
 
This year Grenoble was crowned winner ahead of Lille in the north and Lyon in the central France.
 
What's Grenoble really like to live in? Share you experiences. Tweet @TheLocalFrance
 
 
Grenoble, the capital of the Isere region came out on top against all other cities in France, including Paris, when it came to comparing the number of permanent jobs (CDIs) available as well as the price of buying a property.
 
Grenoble, which has a population of 160,000 has around 45,000 job offers each year, less than most French cities. But the rate of permanent job offers to 100 inhabitants is 12.3, which is better than all French cities apart from Lyon (13.8).
 
But when it came to the average price per metre square of property Grenoble was far cheaper than Lyon – €2,615 compared to €4,591.
 
The map below shows which cities in France made the top 20. 
 
READ ALSO:
Map: MeilleurTaux.com and Jobijoba study
 
Based on the median salary of each city (the midpoint of the salaries, rather than the average) of each city, the study calculated how much living space could be realistically bought.
 
In Grenoble, where the average salary is €35,400, the study found that people can afford to buy an apartment of 60 square metres.
 
However due to an increase in property prices, this actually represents a drop on the size of apartment people could buy back in 2017, when the median salary in Grenoble would have got you 66 square metres. 
 
Meanwhile, in Lille, the median salary is higher than Grenoble's at €36,000 but that will only get you an apartment of 49 square metres compared to last year when you would have got 57 square metres. 
 
In the third city on the list Lyon, the median salary is higher still at €38,000 but people can only afford to buy an apartment of 36 square metres. 
 
“In the end, it is not necessarily the trendy cities of the moment that offer the best choice: either real estate is expensive like in Bordeaux and Strasbourg, or employment is missing as in the Mediterranean, ” Maël Bernier, who advises instead to turn to “medium-sized towns like Grenoble and Lille”.
 
But not everything in Grenoble is rosy.
 
The city has been in the spotlight in recent months for its crime rate, notably around violent incidents and robberies. One police union described Grenoble as a “French Chicago” due to the high crime rate and the mayor Eric Piole recently called the government to intervene in a situation he described as “critical”.
 
Share your thoughts living in Grenoble: Tweet @TheLocalFrance
 
READ ALSO:

Grenoble. Photo: AFP
 
Rising property prices
 
Between 2017 and 2018, real estate prices jumped by an average of 5.8 percent in the 20 cities studied, Maël Bernier, the spokesperson of Meilleurtaux.com told Le Parisien, reducing the amount of square metres people could afford on average by seven percent. 
 
However not everywhere has been affected by rising property prices. 
 
Le Mans in the north west of France has risen to fourth place after coming 10th last year, thanks to an increase in the amount of real estate people can buy for the city's median salary. 
 
If you earn the median salary of €35,400, you can expect to buy an 84 m2 apartment compared with 73 m2 in 2017. On the other hand, permanent job vacancies remain low in Le Mans.
 
Nantes and Rennes in Brittany, and Angers in western France all slid down the ranking, coming 7th, 9th and 13th respectively, with all three affected by both the drop in employment and the rise in the price of real estate.
 
The cities of Toulouse (5th), Dijon (6th) and Strasbourg (10th) also made the top ten along with the unfashionable city of Saint-Etienne (8th). 
 
And while it might come as a shock to many that Grenoble has been deemed the most attractive city to settle down in in France, it's unlikely to surprise anyone that Paris doesn't make top of the list, given the price of property.
 
Paris dropped two place to 17th on the list and as a city known for its pokey apartments, people earning the median salary of €49,500 can afford to buy just 22 square metres.
 
Meanwhile, many may be surprised that for once Bordeaux – often cited as the most attractive city to live in France – doesn't top the table.
 
In fact, the southwestern city, apparently much-loved by Parisians desperate to leave the capital, once again came in just 11th out of 20 due a boom in property prices. With the median annual salary of €35,500 euros, it's only possible to buy an apartment of 34 square metres.

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LIVING IN FRANCE

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

Strikes

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.

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