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Expat Guide to living France

Last updated: 28 August 2014 at 09:46

Expat Guide to living France

Attracting the world’s highest number of foreign tourists annually, standing at around 83 million each year, France is an alluring prospect for longer term visitors and expatriates too.

L’Hexagone as it is sometimes referred to by the French due to its roughly hexagonal shape, mainland France borders Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Monaco, Spain, and Andorra. And due to the country’s membership of the Schengen Area, visa free travel is available to all those countries, alongside many more in Europe. Metropolitan France, which includes the island of Corsica but not the French overseas regions, extends from the Mediterranean Sea to the English Channel and the North Sea, and from the Rhine to the Atlantic Ocean.

The French Economy

Its status as a mixed economy means a combination of private and state-run enterprise. It’s also the third largest recipient of foreign direct investment, and the second largest outside investor, making the country a significant destination for international business. In fact, the country ranks fourth in the Fortune Global 500, with 39 of the 500 biggest companies in the world.

Population breakdown

With a population of around 67 million, France is divided into 27 different administrative regions. Mainland France consists of 22 regions, the most densely populated of which being Ile-de-France, home of the capital Paris, which accounts for more than 1/6th of the population. It’s also the wealthiest and most commercial region in France, meaning that for professionally minded expats, it is one of the prime locations to relocate.

Because of its lengthy longitudinal span, as well as its boast to the highest point in Western Europe in Mont Blanc, France experiences a wide range of climates. The southern Mediterranean area has traditionally been a favourite for expatriates seeking a sunny retirement, while alongside Paris the cities of Lyon, Marseille, Toulouse, and Lille host many working expats.

Particularly attractive to many expatriates is that the country is well known internationally for its education and health care, while the public tend to enjoy good life expectancy, civil liberties, and human development. These, coupled with a fondness for wining and dining, mean around one fifth of the country’s population are first or second-generation immigrants.