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France tops magazine's poll of best places to live for fifth year

France was named the best place in the world to live by International Living, a US lifestyle magazine. The result seems to have split French public opinion: what do you think?


For the fifth consecutive year, France has been selected the best place in the world to live by International Living magazine, a US-based lifestyle magazine for retirees wishing to travel or live abroad.

The magazine, which has been conducting the survey for 30 years, rhapsodised about France on its website: “Its tiresome bureaucracy and high taxes are outweighed by an unsurpassable quality of life, including the world's best healthcare.”

The magazine declared, “you don't need number-crunchers to tell you its bon vivant lifestyle is special.”

International Living based its ranking on a point system, with each of the 194 nations being graded based on nine categories: Cost of Living, Culture and Leisure, Economy, Environment, Freedom, Health, Infrastructure, Safety and Risk, and Climate.

France scored the maximum rating of 100 in the categories of Freedom, Health, and Safety/Risk.

The French blogosphere reacted to France's victory with an array of opinions, ranging from elation to bewilderment. One proud writer for the largely user-generated said, “We ought to bring this to the attention of Sarkozy, who’s always denigrating the French model!”

Others were cynical, feeling that the authors of the list had a tourist’s eye view. This Internet user wrote on the site, “Of course an American or Japanese tourist coming here, being taken directly from the airport to the George V hotel followed by a top-flight restaurant, would find our nation magnificent.”

Rounding out the top five were Australia, Switzerland (“Jump on a Swiss train and you know you will arrive on time. Swallow a Swiss pill and you know it won't poison you.”), Germany (“the Harz Mountains now have a specialist hiking trail for nudists”), and New Zealand.

The US came in at number seven (down from third place in 2009’s rankings, which, according to the magazine’s editors, was due to increased hardships in the US following the financial crisis), and the UK came in at an embarrassing 25th.

The UK press took the blow very badly, with the popular newspaper the Daily Mail ranting, “Even former communist countries where unemployment is still rife are considered better places to settle down in than Britain,” referring to the fact that Lithuania and the Czech Republic had ranked 22nd and 24th, respectively.

At the very bottom of the list were Afghanistan, Chad, Sudan, Yemen, and Somalia.

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