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

3 Great Rural Towns in France

3 Great Rural Towns in France

If you wanted to visit all of France’s most fascinating cities, one right after another, it would take you a couple of months to do so. But if you wanted to explore France’s most intriguing rural villages and towns, you’d need a couple of years—at least. France has thousands of rural towns and villages. While I can’t say that every single one will blow you away with charm, it seems that the country hosts an exceptionally high number of rural beauties.

Real Estate Gems in the South of France From $85,000

Real Estate Gems in the South of France From $85,000

Real Estate
By |
October 28, 2015

You wake in the morning and throw open the shutters to see a pure blue sky. Just as it was yesterday. And the day before. You return to your bed, content to gaze at the fluttering of the plane-tree leaves and terracotta rooftops outside your bedroom window, as you contemplate the delicious possibilities the day holds for you.

All the Romance of Paris Without the High Price Tag

All the Romance of Paris Without the High Price Tag

Daily Postcard
By |
October 26, 2015

From the cool allure of the Avenue Matignon boutiques to the glittering elegance of the Opera house, Paris is a city that makes you crave the best of everything. It’s a city that thrives on its glamorous reputation…and is known for its high prices. But I’m going to let you in on a little secret: Read more...: All the Romance of Paris Without the High Price Tag

Savoring Life in France’s Greatest Wine Region

Savoring Life in France’s Greatest Wine Region

Daily Postcard
By |
October 6, 2015

Six years ago, I first visited Blaye, a small city less than an hour northeast of the French city of Bordeaux. I made friends, visited a dozen more times, and eventually decided this was a place I'd like to live. Choosing to live here was easy. It's affordable, safe, has access to an excellent international airport, and good healthcare. And then there's the amazing quality and reasonable prices of fresh food and good wines.

Europe’s Most Romantic Train Journeys

Europe’s Most Romantic Train Journeys

And so I nearly always find myself choosing to explore Europe by train, even if it sometimes takes a couple more hours and a few more dollars. I’ve traveled this way for years, both when I lived in the States and visited Europe between jobs, and now that I live here in the Swiss Alps. And I’ve discovered that, even though I love nearly every train ride I’ve taken, a few routes stand a little taller than the rest… they unfold more beautifully and leave attentive passengers more breathless than the average ride through the countryside. This train ride weaves its way along the coastline of Italy and then France, offering striking views of the ocean, the seaside cliffs and candy-colored towns of the Cinque Terre, tiny harbors, and hillside vineyards and olive groves. Towns seem to tumble down cliffsides into the Ligurian Sea where boats bob at anchor. En route watch out for the chiming towers of Riomaggiore and picture the sleek Genoan war galleys that plied this coast 500 years ago.

See the World and Save Money with a Roving Retirement

See the World and Save Money with a Roving Retirement

Neither Yvonne nor Michael Bauche qualified for a pension in Canada. And so the adventurous duo decided to embark on a round-the-world trip that has seen them visit Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, Portugal, Italy, France, and the Caribbean. “We cut our expenses in half,” says Yvonne of their new life on the road. “Running two cars, paying for electricity, gas, phone, cell phone, internet, food, and eating out used to cost us almost $4,000 a month. Our average expenditure is now about $2,000, and we live and play very well on that.”