For members


REVEALED: The best towns in France to live in based on jobs and affordable property prices

If you're looking for a place to live in France you will probably want beautiful scenery and a good local boulangerie - but what about the more practical stuff like jobs and affordable house prices?

REVEALED: The best towns in France to live in based on jobs and affordable property prices
Small towns triumphed over big cities in the rankings. Pictured is Besançon in eastern France. Photo: AFP

A new ranking has produced the most attractive French towns to live – based on affordable property prices and number of jobs on offer – and in particular the posts that offer permanent contracts.

The ranking was produced by analysing 30 French towns and cities. In each of them, job offers with permanent contracts (known as CDI or contrat à durée indéterminée in France) were identified and reported on a per capita basis.

READ ALSO How cities across France will change in 2019

The French science and tech sector is growing. Photo: AFP

This rate was then related to the average prices per square metre of houses and apartments to give the final rating.

And the big cities lost out in the ranking, with Paris not present in the top 20 and Bordeaux just scraping in at number 20.

Instead the eastern French town of Besançon, near the Swiss border, came top with plenty of jobs on offer combined with a bouyant real estate market.

It was followed by Orléans and the small town of Staint-Etienne in eastern France in the top three.

“Besançon is neither the leader in employment nor the leader in real estate prices, but it represents the best balance between the two,” said Thomas Allaire, founder of employment site jobijoba, which helped compile the data.

“More than 40 percent of the job offers are with permanent contracts, compared to 33 percent in Bordeaux and with the average salary, you can buy 74 square metres of property.”

The top 10 was dominated by towns or smaller cities, with the Grenoble, Rouen, Lyon, Strasbourg, Metz, Caen and Clermont-Ferrand completing the table.

“This listing is the victory of cities that are not in fashion,” Maël Bernier, director of communication for real estate firm Meilleurtaux told Le Parisien

“These medium-sized cities are never mentioned in surveys of French dreams, and yet it is here that you can find many jobs, while still having the opportunity to support a family in a comfortable way.”

READ ALSO Where in France are the most jobs available

Grenoble fell from second to fourth place, but was still listed as an attractive place to live. Photo: AFP

Lille, which had been in second place behind Grenoble in 2018, fell down to 14th place as other towns improved their employment offerings.

Both Lyon and Bordeaux scored highly for the number of jobs, but fell down the table because of their comparatively high property prices.

Marseille, Nîmes and Limoges scored well on property prices but had relatively few jobs on offer – in Marseille the team counted just 6 jobs with permanent contracts per 100 inhabitants of the city.

Meanwhile Paris trailed in at number 26, hampered by its extremely high property prices, which recently crossed the €10,000 per square metre mark. 

In general France's employment market is picking up, with unemployment falling to its lowest level in 10 years and several cities rebranding themselves as French Tech centres, introducing measures like subsidised workspaces for people creating start-ups.

READ ALSO Five reasons to start you own business in France

Yet many people in France, particularly younger people, find difficulty in finding a job that offers a permanent contract, instead having to make do with a series of short-term CDD (contrat à durée déterminée) jobs.


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For members


How to get a summer job in France

As the summer holidays approach in France, many employers are looking for seasonal workers - so if you're looking for a summer job, here's how to go about it.

How to get a summer job in France

There are thousands of employment offers in France – a simple internet search for jobs d’été came up with numerous jobs boards offering work in France, while the government-backed Centre d’Information et de Documentation pour la Jeunesse (CIDJ) offers advice and information on all aspects of life for young people in France, including finding seasonal work and summer placements.

Sectors including agriculture, hospitality and tourism are always recruiting in the summer, seeking fruit-pickers, holiday camp workers and serving/hotel staff.

But what are the rules for people seeking summer jobs?

READ ALSO Vendange: What you really sign up for when you agree to help with the French wine harvest


Children from the age of 16 (under certain circumstances, the age limit drops to 14) who are legally resident in France can work as long as they have written authorisation from their parents or legal guardians. A model authorisation letter is available here

Those under the age of 18 cannot undertake certain jobs for health and safety reasons.

In the following circumstances, children as young as 14 or 15 can work during school holidays.

  • The holidays must last at least 14 days;
  • The child must work no more than half the days of the holiday – so, if a vacation period is two weeks, they can work for no more than one of those weeks;
  • The child is given ‘light duties’ that offer no risk to their safety, health, or development;
  • From the age of 15 and if the child has completed their troisieme education, a minor can register for an apprenticeship. 


Salary is usually paid monthly and will have a payslip. For those aged 18 and over, pay will be at least equal to the minimum wage.

 For those aged 14 to 17, who have less than six months’ professional experience, the minimum allowed rate is 80 percent of the minimum wage. For those aged 17 to 18, the rate rises to a minimum of 90 percent of France’s minimum wage.

  • The minimum wage in France is currently €10.85 gross per hour (€1,645.58 gross per month based on a 35-hour week);
  • the employment contract is fixed-term and can take different forms (fixed-term contract, seasonal employment contract, temporary employment contract, etc);
  • Seasonal employees are subject to the same obligations as the other employees of the company and have access to the same benefits (canteens, breaks, etc.).

Under 18s have certain additional protections:

  • between the ages of 14 and 16, during school holidays, employees on any contract cannot work more than 35 hours per week nor more than 7 hours per day;
  • They cannot work at night;
  • Those aged 14 to under 16 working during their school holidays can only be assigned to work which is not likely to harm their safety, their health or development.

Right to work in France

If you’re a French citizen or hold permanent residency in France then you have the right to work, but for foreigners there are extra restrictions.

Anyone who holds the passport of a EU/EEA country or Switzerland, is free to work in France or to travel to France seeking work without needing a visa or work permit.

Most other people will need permission to work in France – even if it’s only for a short period or for casual work such as grape-picking. Depending on your country of origin you may need a visa – everything you need to know about that is here.

In addition to the visa, you may also need a work permit, which is the responsibility of the employer.  To employ anyone in France for less than 90 days, an employer must get a temporary work permit – before the prospective employee applies for a short stay visa. This permit is then sent to the embassy at which the employee is applying for a visa.

If you come from countries including the UK, USA and Canada you can spend up to 90 days in France without a visa – but you may still need a work (convention d’accueil) if you want to work while you are here.

READ ALSO Six official websites to know if you’re planning to work in France

Certain countries have specific ‘seasonal worker’ visas on offer, for certain sectors which allows – for example – Canadians to come to France and work the ski season. 

Cash-in-hand jobs

Certain sectors which have a lot of casual workers – for example seasonal fruit-picking – do have cash-in-hand jobs, known in France as marché noir (black market) or simply travail au black (working on the black, or working illegally). 

This is of course illegal and working this way carries risks – as well as the possibility of losing your job if labour inspectors turn up you are also in a vulnerable position. If your employer suddenly decides not to pay you, or make unexpected deductions from your wages, there is very little you can do about it since you won’t have any kind of work contract.