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READER INSIGHTS

Readers reveal: What makes the quality of life in France so high

Good cheese, comprehensive healthcare and friendly neighbours - The Local's readers reveal the reasons for their great quality of life in France.

French football supporters smile during a match
French football supporters smile during a match - but it turns out the country's foreign residents are even happier. (Photo by Valery HACHE / AFP)

Earlier this month France’s National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies found that the average French person rated their quality of life as 7.4 out of 10 –  but it seems that readers of The Local are much happier. 

Out of 100 people who responded to our survey last week, most said they were very happy and the results of our – admittedly unscientific – survey gave a life satisfaction score of 8.5 out of 10.

“Living in France was the best decision we ever made,” said American, Robert Heuer. 

A whopping 91 percent said that life in France was better than in their home country, with work-life balance, great public services and magnificent culinary offerings among the reasons why.   

Here’s what you had to say: 

Food 

Unsurprisingly, French cuisine is seen as a key benefit by many of the country’s foreign residents. 

Julia Fray, an American living in the Alpes-Maritimes, praised the country’s “wonderful markets”. 

Among her favourite culinary delights are “wild-caught fish and game, mushrooms, provençal wines, locally raised vegetables, fruits, flowers, meat, and delicious prepared foods: foie gras, terrines and pâtés en croûte.” 

Others among you pointed out the obvious, but nonetheless salient truth. 

“Wine and cheese is much cheaper,” said American, Barry Epstein. 

A British lady called Harriet, living in Paris, praised the city’s “croissants and baguettes”, while an American reader told us how they appreciated having a “more connections with local merchants”. 

Louise McTavish, a mother living in Essone, said that France had less of a “junk food culture” compared to her native Scotland. 

Pace of Life 

Another common theme among our readers is an appreciation for what Elaine Denny, who lives in the Pyrenees, described as a “relaxed pace of life”.

“There’s more respect for the pleasures of life here and people make time to enjoy them,” said Paris-based American Robert Friday. 

“There is a more balanced lifestyle in France between work and home,” said Randy Kerber, perhaps reflecting the fact that French workers spend fewer hours at work than the European Union average.  

Economic opportunity 

The French economy has bounced back strongly from the fall-out of the Covid-19 pandemic, with unemployment at a near-10 year low. 

Canadian Val Critchley, put it succinctly. “Cost of living cheaper, housing cheaper, friendly neighbours, low crime rate.” 

READ MORE How well is the French economy really doing?

“Somehow I make less money, but end up having many more holidays and can afford better quality clothing,” said Fabio Ferretti, an Anglo-Italian. 

Maryke from South Africa, described France as having the following benefits: “Economically stable. More spending power and disposable income. Better prospects.” 

An Indian reader, Aditya Das, said that the standard of living in France is about the same as in India when it comes to the middle class, “but for the poor, France is much better.”

Public services 

Many of you said that state-managed services were run highly effectively in France. 

“Our taxes are visible in the good roads, schools, parks and free events,” said Scheenagh Harrington, a Brit living in Tarn in the south west.

John Walton praised the country’s “genuinely helpful local services” and “rural fibre internet, high-speed rail, fast roads”. 

Americans, in particular, were also keen to highlight France’s incredible health system. 

“The quality of healthcare is first rate and is so much less expensive than in the US,” said Robert Heuer. 

But the Brits were impressed too. 

“The health system is second to none,” said Susan Smith, who is based in Aude. 

Politics 

While it is an election year, we were still pleased to hear how many of you are enthusiastic about French politics – or rather, French politics in relation to your home country. 

“I don’t have to live in a country that would elect Donald Trump president, or even a corrupt half-wit like George W. Bush,” wrote Julia Fray. 

Harve Cohen, also from the US, heralded a “better political environment” in France. 

Readers from the UK also said the political scene was less toxic here. 

“No Brexit, less racists”, declared Howard Turner, from the UK, when summarising why he preferred life in France. 

“At a population level, the Brits suffer from an overbearing superiority complex in combination with an attitude of righteous indignation if anyone disagrees with them. The French might be anarchic socialists but they are easier to live with,” said Nigel Thomas. 

Friendliness 

Perhaps surprisingly, at least for those living in Paris, the friendliness of the local population was also frequently mentioned as a key advantage of life in France. 

“When out walking everyone says ‘Bonjour’,” said James Dunkley. “We have found the French people to be very friendly.”

READ MORE Why bonjour is the most sacred word to French people

“While we have many American friends and have developed strong friendships with our French neighbours,” said Robert Heuer. 

“French people, in my experience, are always pleasant and friendly,” said La Sarthe-based Brit, Geoff Todd. 

Member comments

  1. I very much agree with the views expressed in this article. Having lived in English speaking countries, France is my first experience of genuinely being a ‘foreigner’ inasmuch as I struggle with the language yet I feel more welcomed here, and far more comfortable and at home, than I ever did in the UK and the Republic of Ireland.

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LIVING IN FRANCE

Traffic warnings for France ahead of holiday weekend

This weekend represents the first chance to 'faire le pont' and have a long holiday weekend - and the French seem set to make the most of it with warnings of extremely heavy traffic from Wednesday.

Traffic warnings for France ahead of holiday weekend

Thursday, May 26th marks the Christian festival of Ascension and is a public holiday in France.

More importantly, it’s the first time this year that French workers have had the opportunity to faire le pont (do the bridge) and create a long weekend.

In France, most public holidays fall on different days each year and if they happen to fall on the weekend then there are no extra days off work.

This year that happened on New Year’s Day (a Saturday) and both of the early May public holidays (the workers’ holiday on May 1st and VE Day on May 8th, which both fell on a Sunday).

READ ALSO Why 2022 is a bad year for public holidays

But as Ascension is on a Thursday, workers have the option to take a day of annual leave on Friday and therefore create a nice four-day weekend.

And it appears that many are planning on doing just that, as the traffic forecaster Bison futé is predicting extremely heavy traffic from Wednesday evening, as people prepare to make their after-work getaway and head to the coast, the countryside or the mountains to fully profit from their holiday weekend.

According to Bison futé maps, the whole country is coloured red – very heavy traffic – on both Wednesday and Thursday as people take to the roads to leave the cities.

Map: Bison futé

Meanwhile Sunday is coloured black – the highest level, meaning extremely heavy traffic and difficult driving conditions – across the whole country. 

Map: Bison futé

If you were hoping to take the train instead you might be out of luck, SNCF reports that most TGV services are sold out for over the holiday weekend. 

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