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Complete guide to obtaining a France retirement visa, the required documents, and the best places for retirees

Few things cross our mind when mentioning France: the Eiffel Tower, the Notre Dame cathedral, and croissants. France is located in Western Europe and has some of the most breathtaking landscapes in the world. 

Apart from choosing France for working or studying purposes, many see France as a great retirement destination. In fact, France is a very good place to retire, thanks to the life quality, healthcare, and living costs.

France does not have a retirement visa, but there exist other ways you can retire and live in France without needing a retirement visa.

This article will introduce you to other alternatives equivalent to a retirement visa.

How Can I Retire in France?

Since France does not issue a special incentive visa for foreign retirees, you can become a resident of the country by obtaining a residence permit. There are several residence permit categories that you can apply for, but the most common one among retirees is The Carte de Sejour.

Retired EU/EEA or Swiss citizens entering France are exempt from obtaining a residence permit but can request one if they want full access to state services and aid.

Retired non-EU citizens need a residence permit for retired persons to allow them to enter France. Keep in mind that if you are from a non-EU country, you cannot get a residence permit card without obtaining a long-stay visa first

Carte de Sejour for Retirees

As a foreign retiree, you need to apply for the Carte de Sejour for retirees if you want to reside in France and become a legal resident.

A Carte de Sejour for Retirees is issued to foreign nationals after living in France under a residency card for more than three years. You can apply for this type of residency card at the prefecture or sub-prefecture nearest to your current home in France before your residence permit expires.

Income Requirements for Retired Expats in France

To retire in France, you must have sufficient financial funds. The amount of your income depends on your personal situation; however, it cannot exceed the following amounts:

If you’re unmarried, and live withMonthly amount
No children590
With 1 child1005
With 2 children1255
With 3 children1505
With 4 children1760
If you live with your spouse, and live withMonthly amount
No children880
With 1 child1055
With 2 children1230
With 3 children1470
With 4 children1650
Retired people from 65 years and olderMonthly amount
If you live alone$920
If you live with your spouse$1450

What Are The Eligibility Criteria For Retirement in France?

To be eligible for retirement in the territory of France, you are obliged to meet all of the following criteria:

  • You do not participate in any professional activity in France.
  • You have health insurance.
  • You have sufficient means of subsistence to support yourself during your stay in France.
  • You have a clear criminal record and are not considered a threat to the country or its residents.

What Are The Requirements For Obtaining Residence Permit to Retire in France

When applying for retirement in France, you must provide the following documents:

  • Your valid passport.
  • Three passport photographs.
  • Indication of your place of residence.
  • Proof you have health insurance.
  • Proof of your income (bank account statements, pension slips, etc.).

How Long Can I Stay in France as a Retired Expat?

Foreign retirees can stay in France for a maximum of one year and can be renewable once it expires.

Can I Work in France as a Retired Expat?

Unfortunately, France does not permit foreign retirees to pursue any beneficiary activity. Anyone who wants to work in France can apply for a France work visa instead.

How Much Money Do I Need to Retire in France?

Although living costs in France are quite high, there is one element that determines your expenses. Location is one of the key factors you should consider when moving to France. For example, Paris is ranked as one of the most expensive cities in the world to live in, whereas cities like Nantes, Toulouse, or Montpellier are more affordable.

Generally speaking, you would need around $1200 to $1500 to live comfortably and cover your monthly expenses in a less expensive region of the country, while in more expensive cities, an estimated monthly cost of $1700 to $2000 would be enough.

This amount will be lower if you decide to purchase a property instead of renting one. The apartment prices in France go from $3100 to $12.850 per square meter in the city center and from $2050 to $10.110

Here is a presentation of the average living costs in France:

ACCOMMODATION (rent)Monthly Cost
Apartment (1 bedroom) in City Center$790
Apartment (1 bedroom) Outside of Center$620
Apartment (3 bedrooms) in City Center$1670
Apartment (3 bedrooms) Outside of Center $1170
Price for purchasing an apartment in City Centre$6520
Price for purchasing an apartment Outside of Centre$4555
Rice $1.95
Apples (kg)$2.70
Electricity, Water, Heating, Cooling, Garbage$160

Health Insurance For Retirees in France

The healthcare system in France, considered to be one of the best in the world is financed by the government’s national health insurance Protection Universelle Maladie (PUMA). The country offers free access to medical services and treatments to all its residents, including foreigners who work and live in France.

France has made health insurance mandatory for everyone, even expats. Public health insurance covers 70% of the medical cost, but there are certain services that require a medical fee. But, although healthcare in France is not entirely free, the costs are generally low.

Foreign retirees who want to live long-term in France can get health insurance by registering with the country’s national health insurance scheme. This procedure can take months, therefore, you will be required to obtain private health insurance to cover you during this time.

Why Should I Retire in France?

There are many obvious reasons why one would choose France as their new permanent home. Here are some of the reasons why France makes a great retirement home:

  • Healthcare. Citizens of France have access to both public and private healthcare services. Healthcare is not entirely free, but public health insurance cover about 70% of the medical costs.
  • Tax system. France has tax agreements with many European and foreign countries. These agreements mean that you, as a foreigner moving to France for retirement, can avoid paying double taxes (taxes in France and your home country). However, once you become a tax resident of France, you have to pay tax on your worldwide income.
  • Economy.  France is the seventh largest economy in the world. With a highly developed and market-oriented economy, France has upgraded the living standards for its citizens and foreign legal residents. 
  • Safety and security. The public authorities in France have implemented security plans to ensure that everyone, including expats, remains safe.
  • Nature. Besides the famous man-made landmarks, France is also known for its natural wonders. The country has exceptional flora and fauna and some of the most breathtaking landscapes.
  • Cuisine. Many consider French cooking to be the most prestigious and respected cuisine in the world. French people use unique cooking techniques, which explains why the dishes are so flavorful.

What Are the Best Places for Retirees in France?

France has always been a favorite destination among expats looking for a new start. The country has a charm that seems to attract all kinds of people, including retirees. Here are some of the best places for retirees in France.


If you want to experience the southern French identity, Toulouse is the right place for that. Toulouse is often considered one of the most beautiful places in France to live. Although it is far away from any beach, the city has a Mediterranean climate with warm summers and mild winters. 

The city is diverse in culture and nationalities and is the fourth-largest city in France, with almost 500,000 inhabitants.


Everything we are about to say for Paris is already known by everyone. Paris is one of the most popular cities in France, known for its bookshops, the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre Museum, and many other cultural attractions. The city has an estimated population of more than 2 million residents, so expect a vibrant and dynamic atmosphere while living there. 

The city of love is perfect for single retirees who want to jump into new adventures, and who knows, maybe you will meet your new soulmate while wandering the beautiful streets of Paris.


Lyon sits at the intersection of the Rhône and Saône rivers, which gives the city a beautiful and calm vibe. The city is known for its historical and architectural landmarks like the Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourviere, the Gallo-Roman Museum, the Roman Theatres, etc. It has been ranked as the most attractive city in France, leaving behind cities like Bordeaux or Paris. 

In Lyon, you can enjoy some of the most delicious french dishes and shop in luxurious malls. 


The southern part of France has many great places that offer the right living conditions for a perfect retirement. Annecy is an alpine town in southeastern France known for its Vieille Ville, the lake, beautiful old town, and the main canal that goes through it. The lake is great for watersports like sailing and has trails for cyclists, joggers, and walkers. 

Annecy is truly a rare gem when it comes to lifestyle options for its residents and expats.


With sandy beaches and a seafront promenade filled with eateries and fashion boutiques, Juan-les-Pins is a major holiday destination. The colorful scenery, beaches, and lifestyle make Juan-les-Pins a charming place for expats to move to. The chic resort will be a great choice if you like a more laid-back lifestyle.

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