France Fast Facts

france facts Paris France

Population: 66,836,154

Capital City: Paris

Climate: Generally cool winters and mild summers, but mild winters and hot summers along the Mediterranean

Time Zone: GMT+1

Language: French

Country Code: 33

Coastline: 4,668 km

There’s Something About France that Few People Know...

France, with its reputation for glamour and the finer things in life, leads many people to cross the country off their retirement destination list, assuming that they could never afford to live there. But that’s a mistake.

Whether you dream of a city pied-à-terre…or a rambling farmhouse among the sunflowers…or a village house wrapped in wisteria-hung memories of long ago, France is far more affordable than you might think. In fact, there are many parts of the country where habitable homes in storybook settings cost less than $160,000.

There’s a region in the sunny south, for example, that offers a wonderful warm climate year-round…delightful medieval villages brimming with sun-baked old stone houses….white-sand beaches and winding mountain trails…large cities and tiny hamlets…and that’s virtually a stone’s throw from the Spanish border. The region is called Languedoc-Rousillon, and—for now—prices are still reasonable…

Paris, France
Paris, France

If you prefer a cooler climate and a more pastoral setting, look to charming Normandy. Just two hours from Paris, this region is filled with half-timbered houses, often set on acres of emerald fields that seem straight out of a fairytale. There’s also a fascinating history, flavorful rustic cuisine (think apples, poultry and creamy, fresh dairy), romantic windswept beaches and exquisite coastal towns… It’s the perfect place for a vacation retreat or a tranquil year-round home.

For mountain-lovers, the Rhône-Alpes region of France may be like a dream come true. Here you’ll find clear blue lakes and country landscapes that offer riveting views of the sharp peaks of the Alps, and a number of towns, from Grenoble to Lyon, that are as lovely as they are lively and affordable.

And all this is just for starters. There are scores of other reasonably priced “hidden corners” of France that most foreigners know nothing about.

Find Out More From Our France Correspondent

From the Archives of France

5 Tips to Travel the World on $70 a Day

5 Tips to Travel the World on $70 a Day

Life has been full of travel and adventure since my husband Duncan and I first realized that it was cheaper for us to travel the world than to sit on our couch back home. Just last year, our travels took us to Thailand, Spain, Sweden, France, Montenegro, Croatia, on a cruise from Spain to Panama, then onward to explore Mexico, Cuba, and Barbados...

Perigord, Dordogne

Perigord, Dordogne

Daily Postcard
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September 24, 2018

Every day in my travel research I come across the terms "hidden gem," "off the beaten path," "unspoiled, authentic, undiscovered..." The Dordogne region of France is the only place I have been to date where it is actually true. Castles sit like crown jewels along the river banks. My family and I often found ourselves beating our own path through the oak forests toward the river bank.

9 Bedrooms and 2 Acres in France’s Lake District for $248,528

9 Bedrooms and 2 Acres in France’s Lake District for $248,528

My wife Lorraine and I wanted history, medieval villages, old stone churches and castles. We wanted to keep our aging brains active and thought learning a new language and experiencing
a whole new way of life would help. Plus, we wanted to live in a big old house… It was in the small town of Bellac, Read more...: 9 Bedrooms and 2 Acres in France’s Lake District for $248,528

In Pictures: 7 Livable European Cities You Might Not Yet Know About

In Pictures: 7 Livable European Cities You Might Not Yet Know About

Daily Postcard
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August 22, 2018

It’s no secret that Europe is a great place to live. Its many countries are known for excellent cuisine, gorgeous ocean views, jagged Alpine landscapes, great healthcare, and some of the best public transportation systems on the planet. But in an enormous and appealing continent, it can be tricky to know where to start your search for the most livable cities...

5 Places in Europe Where You Can Retire on $35,000 a Year

5 Places in Europe Where You Can Retire on $35,000 a Year

If it’s culture, history, and variety you’re after, Europe has it all. From idyllic rural retreats to cities where history is thickly layered with stunning architecture and grand museums, rich in romance, Europe has long had a strong appeal for North American retirees...