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

Perigord, Dordogne

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Pundits are divided on whether Spain’s property market will see further price falls. A huge overhang of unsold homes remains, but for the first time in seven years, sales in Málaga province showed an increase in 2013. Spain will always be a popular retirement destination for northern Europeans, and the number of U.S. citizens registered as living in Spain has increased, too.

I Saw 7 Countries in 7 Months…With This Portable Income

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When I was asked to write this article, the editor enquired if I was still in Buenos Aires—that was where I was the last time we spoke. I laughed and had to tell him that Argentina was seven countries ago. (I actually had to count the places I had been on my fingers.) He was quite surprised, as it had only been seven months since we'd last caught up...