Most popular areas of France for British expats revealed

Immigrating to France is an idyllic thought for many people in the UK. A chance to live a bohemian lifestyle in a picturesque setting, it’s easy to see why thousands of Brits opt for the French way of life. But where exactly are the most popular places to live in France? Figures obtained and published by the online English language French newspaper and compiled by France’s National Statistics Agency INSEE, have revealed just where British expats choose to settle in France.

Emigrating to France

5 Best places to move to in France

  1. Ile-de-France

There are over 200,000 British expats living in France, with the Ile-de-France region, which includes Paris, being the most popular place for them to live, with over 20,000 Brits residing there. The modern translation for the region is ‘Island of France’ and it’s easy to see why. The region in total has 12 million inhabitants and includes 944,000 businesses, which makes it one of the most economic areas within Europe. The fact that the region includes Paris, means that it is full of culture and there are many fascinating points of interest such as the Eiffel Tower and Louvre Museum.

  1. Poitou-Charentes

Poitou-Charentes located in the west of France, now part of Nouvelle Aquitaine, is also a popular area for British expats.  In fact, there are around 16,000 British expats in the area, making up around 33% of the overall number of foreign residents living there. The most prevalent industry within the area is the making of brandy and there are plenty of pretty local attractions including Fort Boyard, Lantern Tower and Île de Ré.

  1. Aquitaine

Aquitaine in the south-west of France is a historical yet popular choice for Brits and is the 6th most populated region in the country. The largest and perhaps most well-known city within Aquitaine is Bordeaux. The city is well known for its wine and is home to a number of notable residents, including French sportsmen, writers and musicians. Top attractions in Aquitaine are The Water Mirror, Place de la Bourse and St Andre Cathedral.

  1. Midi-Pyrénées

Now part of the new Occitanie region of France, Midi-Pyrénées is another favourite for UK expats. One of the most popular cities within the region is Toulouse which is the fourth largest city in France following Paris, Marseille and Lyon.  Toulouse is full of culture and notable landmarks, including the Théâtre du Capitole, Toulouse Cathedral and The Jardin des Plantes. The city is home to a number of colleges and universities, which also makes it France’s fourth highest student population.  Also known for its rich history in literature, fine arts and festivals, it is clear to see why this is a region highly regarded for its culture.

  1. Brittany

Brittany has roughly 13,500 Brits living there. Known as a cultural French region, it borders the English Channel and contains some of the oldest architecture in the world. Some of the most notable historic sites include Barnenez Cairn which dates back to 4800 BC, Josselin Castle which was built in 1008 and Château de Châteaubriant, which was founded during the 11th Century.

Not so popular places in France for UK expats

However, the statistics show that there are many parts of France, especially the north-eastern regions, which just don’t seem to appeal to British expats at all. For example, only around 850 Brits have set up home in the eastern region of Lorraine, while even fewer (around 400) live in the Champagne-Ardenne and Franche-Comté regions. However, the least popular French region for British expats would appear to be the island of Corsica, on which approximately just 200 British expats live.


In the build-up to Brexit, many Brits began fleeing to France in a bid to escape the UK’s political drama. But now Brexit has been done and the transition period is over, is it even still possible to live the French dream?

There were no significant changes to British expats living in France prior to the Brexit transition period, though the Brexit withdrawal agreement indicated that legal residents must apply for a new online residency permit. However, things start to get a bit tricky if you are looking to emigrate after this time. Initially, the Brexit transition period was intended to be two years but due to the many delays of Brexit, this was reduced down to 11 months.

One of the most significant obstacles for Brits looking to live in France is the end of freedom of movement between the UK and EU. From 1st January 2021, UK citizens looking to move to the EU will need to apply for a visa. Entry requirements vary depending on which EU country you are moving to. Further details on entry requirements for UK citizens looking to move to France can be found on the UK government website.

Brexit has also impacted UK citizens who own a holiday home in France and how long they are able to stay in the country. Prior to Brexit, Brits who owned property in France could visit their holiday home whenever they liked. Post-Brexit, it was confirmed that Brits could only travel visa-free in the EU for a maximum of 90 days within any 180-day period.

From 31st January 2021, France has restricted travel from non-EU countries as a result of rising coronavirus cases, with restrictions for travel from the UK in place since December 2020. Travelling to France from the UK is currently only acceptable for legally permitted reasons.

Thinking about moving to France? Find out more about living in France, including lifestyle, culture, and popular destinations for expats and why!