Nantes, the historic capital of Brittany, is the sixth largest city in France and has about 300,000 inhabitants. When the French regions were created, it became the capital of the Loire region. It is a young city, home to numerous universities that attract many students from all over northern France and beyond. It is a very characteristic city and the contrasts between new and old give it a special charm.
Considering its small size, both in terms of population and area, it represents a good compromise between big city life and rural life. The city is crossed by two rivers, the most famous one, the Loire, and the second, less known one, the Erdre. These rivers have always been the soul of the city, and in the past its port was one of the most important in Europe, through which a large part of the international trade in spices and products passed, which were then sold throughout Europe. Today you can walk, bike or play sports in the fresh air on the banks of the river, rich in vegetation and public parks.
Nantes is only a few dozen kilometers from the Atlantic Ocean, which can be reached in half an hour by car or train, and many residents take advantage of this on weekends when the weather is good.
The strategic location of the city is ideal for trips to Brittany or the Loire region. In addition, Paris can be reached by train in less than two hours. So it is also technically possible to live in Nantes, where rental prices are half those in Paris, and work every day in the French capital.
The people of Nantes are generally very hospitable and have a more relaxed and less formal attitude than most French people. The lack of racist attitudes and the politeness of the people make life in Nantes very pleasant for a foreigner. It is one of the few cities in France where, even if you do not know French, the inhabitants do not look down on you but try to understand you. You can easily see this for yourself, even if you get on public transportation and start a conversation with a stranger – try that in Paris if you can.
It is no coincidence that most foreigners who have lived in this city have felt at home and quite a few have decided to live in Nantes permanently.
Both at work and in life in general, there is a relaxed atmosphere that allows people to find an excellent balance between work and personal life. This does not mean that people do not work hard enough, quite the opposite! The work must be done, and done well, but after work people devote themselves to their own lives or family.
Until recently, the city was not affected by the mass immigration typical of most large French cities. It certainly does not have the number of immigrants from other cities but Nantes has a deeply multicultural soul and is open to everyone, regardless of their origin, race or religion. This leads to a constant increase of foreigners working or studying in one of the numerous schools or universities, which are among the most prestigious in all of France.
As for the climate, the city enjoys a fairly temperate climate with winters that are never excessively cold and summers that are never excessively hot. The proximity to the sea makes the temperatures more pleasant than inland. However, the sky is often gray and there are many rainy days, which on the one hand is useful for the region’s thriving agriculture, but on the other hand those who go to the office for work would gladly do without it.
About work, it should be said that there are highly developed industries, for example, in the aerospace and nautical sectors. The IT sector is booming, and the administration has created special areas with facilities for start-ups in the technology sector. The Nantes region is currently considered one of the best in France, both for job seekers and for business seekers.
Living and working in Nantes, conclusion
Living in Nantes means living at the same time in a city (with easy access to services and good job opportunities) and in the countryside (with a quiet and stress-free life). Nantes is strategically located near the ocean and Paris. Its airport offers connections with the main European cities.
The climate is temperate, not like southern Spain, but definitely better than many other French cities. It is one of the most dynamic cities in France in terms of economy, employment and future prospects. For these and other reasons, it is often ranked as the French city with the best quality of life.
Those interested in working in other French cities can also read the guide to work in France
Those who want to learn more about how to move to France can find all the information in the related article