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QUALITY OF LIFE

MAP: Where are the happiest areas of France?

A new study has given a comprehensive view of happiness levels in different parts of France, with the area where you live having almost as strong an effect on happiness as whether you are young, rich or in a couple.

Hikers walk in the French Alps
A new study has suggested that people living outside of big French cities are more likely to be happy. (Photo by OLIVIER CHASSIGNOLE / AFP)

France’s National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies compiled self-reported quality of life data among the population between 2010-19. 

In results published last week, researchers found that the average person living in mainland France rated their quality of life at 7.4 out of 10 – with all responses given before the pandemic.

The study noted that people who are “young, rich, in a couple, in good health and born French” were most likely to view their quality of life positively.

“Life satisfaction increases with the richness of a commune but the impact of this is weaker than the with the impact of individual wealth,” wrote the authors. 

But the geographical differences should not be understated. 

On the map below, people living in the départements shaded in blue reported lower than average life satisfaction, while those shaded in yellow and orange reported higher than average life satisfaction. 

A map shows self-reported quality of life in France.

A map shows self-reported quality of life in France. Blue areas indicate départements where quality of life is lower than the national average, yellow indicates it is higher and orange indicates significantly higher. Grey areas mean quality of life is close to the national average and dark grey areas indicate départements where data was not available. Source: INSEE

The data indicates that people are happiest in the the largely rural départements of Gard, Cantal, Aude and Ariège départements. 

The areas with the lowest reported quality of life include Tarn in south west France, the Paris suburban area of Seine-Saint-Denis, Loir-et-Cher near Orélans and Isère in eastern France. 

Seine-Saint-Denis is not the only greater Paris area to perform poorly. Paris itself, Yvelines and Val-d’Oise all reported lower than average quality of life. 

On a broader scale, the study revealed that people living in rural areas were happier than those living in big cities, but a number of other factors also had an impact. People living in detached houses, for example, were more likely to report higher quality of life, as were those in employment. 

The survey also found that foreigners living in France were happiest in areas where the overall proportion of foreigners is lower. The same can be said for unemployed people. 

The researchers also found that self-reported life satisfaction generally decreases with age and that middle-aged men were generally happier than middle-aged women. 

A graph shows that self-reported quality of life among people in France decreases with age.

A graph shows that self-reported quality of life among people in France decreases with age. Source: INSEE
 
The overall level of life satisfaction across the country was more or less the same in 2010 as it was by 2019. But data for people living in the regions of Normandy, Centre-Val de Loire and Pays de Loire suggests that overall quality of life decreased by about 2-3 percent. The quality of life for people living in Paris increased marginally. 
 

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POLICE

Your questions answered: Legal rights as a foreigner in France

The French Constitution offers broad legal protection to anyone in France from the right to trial to the right to legal advice, but there are some scenarios specific to foreigners in France.

Your questions answered: Legal rights as a foreigner in France

What are my rights if I am arrested or imprisoned?

If you are arrested you have the same rights as a French citizen to legal advice, phone calls, bail and a full trial – full details HERE.

There are some extra things to be aware of however;

Once arrested you have the right to an interpreter during police interviews.

You have the right to call your Embassy, although the help the Embassy can offer you is much more limited than many people think.

If you are released while awaiting a court hearing you will usually have to hand over your passport and undertake not to leave the country. If you are not a French resident, the judge can assign you a residency address in France.

If you are found guilty and imprisoned in France you maintain several rights, such as the right to vote (if you have French citizenship). France’s interior ministry has a handout detailing these rights, HERE

Can I appeal against my sentence?

Yes, you have the right to appeal a court’s decision.

Keep in mind that this can be a lengthy process with very specific deadlines – and it can go either way, so you risk a sentence being increased.

If you are acquitted in court,  French law also allows for the prosecution to appeal against your acquittal.

I am the victim of a crime, what are my rights?

In France, the role of the state and the prosecutor is to protect the peace, this means that if someone commits a crime against you, it is up to the state to decide whether to move forward with criminal proceedings.

It’s not up to the victim to decide whether or not to press charges.

Conversely, if the state chooses not to go ahead with criminal proceedings, but you (the victim) want them to press charges, you have the right to appeal against their decision to drop the case.

Can I be expelled from France for committing a crime?

Yes, although this is generally reserved for people who have committed serious crimes such as violent crime, drug-trafficking or terror offences.

If you have been jailed for a serious crime in France you can be served with an ‘interdiction du territoire français‘ – a ban from French soil – on your release. These are reserved for the most serious offences and simply being incarcerated does not necessarily lead to expulsion.

If you are a full-time resident in France but not a French citizen, then being convicted of a crime can mean that your visa or residency card will not be renewed. This is again usually reserved for people who have committed very serious crimes, but in certain circumstances residency can be withdrawn for less serious offences such as driving offences or begging. 

READ ALSO What offences can lose you the right to live in France?

If you have French citizenship it’s virtually impossible for your to be expelled from France although in some rare cases – usually connected to terrorism – citizenship of dual nationals can be revoked.

What are the rules for minors?

Minors in the French legal system have some specific rights. The EU has laid out the specific rights of minors, which apply in France as well, and apply from the time of arrest.

  • Right to be be quickly informed of legal rights, and to be assisted by your parents (or other appropriate persons)
  • Right to be assisted by a lawyer
  • No prison sentence should be imposed on a minor if they have not been assisted by a lawyer during the court hearings. All measures should be exhausted to avoid a child being imprisoned.
  • Right to be detained separately from adults if sent to prison.
  • Children should not be required “to reimburse the costs of certain procedural measures, for example, for individual assessment, medical examination, or audio-visual recording of interviews.”
  • A child’s privacy should be respected and “questioning will be audio-visually recorded or recorded in another appropriate manner.”
  • Repeatedly questioning children should be avoided.
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