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This Is The Top Digital Nomad Destination In France – And It’s Not Paris

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France may be the number one tourist destination globally, hosting over 100 million annual visitors and being the proud home of the landmark Eiffel Tower, the world's gastronomic capital and a cultural hub of the first order, but it's far from being a popular ‘workcation' spot for digital nomads.

If their preference for Southeast Asia or Latin America is any indication, they actively avoid expensive destinations, and to put it simply, France isn't exactly known for being the budget alternative, especially when rent alone in Paris can set you back by $1,730 per month.

View Of Montpellier In Occitania, A Region Of Southern France, Mediterranean Europe

On the other hand, there is nothing quite like waking up to freshly-baked baguettes from the local boulangerie every day, strolling verdant city parks, and working from a traditional French cafe with views of remarkable architectural feats: if anything, it's soul-elevating.

But is it possible to work remotely from France, partake in that unrivaled joie de vivre, and still not break the bank?

If it's the charming Montpellier where you're headed, instead of the overtouristed City of Lights, then you might just get away with it:

Montpellier Is The Digital Nomad Capital Of France

Ornate Fountain In The Center Of Place De La Comedie, Central Montpellier, A Large City In Occitania, Southern France, Mediterranean Europe

According to Nomad List, the number one platform for tracking nomad trends worldwide, Montpellier is the top-ranking nomad destination in France, beating Lyon, Nice, and even Paris, with a total score of 3.36/5. For comparison, Paris scores 2.95/5.

Unless you're a Francophile, however, or you've happened to have traveled overland from Spain into France, with a stopover in Montpellier, you might not have been properly introduced to this charming city of Occitania (we must add, mainland France's southernmost region).

Montpellier, Occitania, France, Southern Europe

So what is it about this lesser-known city that's so special, and most importantly, what has it got to offer nomads not only on the cultural front but also in terms of infrastructure?

Also, how actually affordable is it to live in Montpellier, as opposed to visiting for a short period?

One Of The Cultural Centers Of Southern France

National borders are a relatively new concept, and in order to fully grasp the essence of Montpellier, we must first take a look at its ancient History but don't worry, we'll keep it light and fun for you: prior to France existing as a state, it belonged to the Crown of Aragon.

Aerial Panoramic View Of The Historic Center Of Montpellier, The Historical Capital Of Occitania, Southern France, Mediterranean Europe

Aragon was a kingdom that existed in the Middle Ages, which evolved to become a territory in Spain.

So yes, throughout much of its early development, Montpellier was more closely associated with the neighboring sunny country than the French-speaking world proper.

It is where numerous important events took place, from the birth of James I, a Spanish king, to the establishment of one of the world's first universities (as a matter of fact, it is still home to the oldest medical school in operation).

Gothic Cathedral Of Saint Peter Pictured At Dusk, A Medieval Church In Montpellier, Occitania, Southern France, Mediterranean Europe

If you're considering a temporary relocation to France as a remote worker, culture is likely to be in your scope of interest, and you'll be glad to know that Montpellier is a culture-loving nomad's playground with a wealth of historical monuments.

These include a majestic Gothic Cathédrale Saint-Pierre, the Tours des Pins et de la Babotte, two perfectly preserved examples of medieval fortifications, the beautiful Place de la Comédie, a car-free square flanked by stately buildings, and an Ancient Citadel.

Montpellier Is A Lot Warmer Than Paris

Wooden Staircase Leading To A Sandy Beach In Occitania, A Region In Southern France Bounded By The Mediterranean Sea, Southern Europe

Remember how Montpellier was historically a Spanish city? It might have been purchased by France at the turn of the 14th century, but it still feels a lot more ‘Southern European' than it does ‘French': winters are pretty mild – it's currently 60°F – and summers are scalding hot.

Montpellier is not exactly coastal, but it is only a 6.2-mile drive from the beach, and it definitely has a traditional Mediterranean climate. Other than the landmark-packed city itself, major attractions in the area include La Grand Motte, a seaside town, and the Palavas and Carnon beaches.

Famous Pyramidal Buildings In La Motte, Occitania, Southern France, Mediterranean Europe

Motte is a bustling development zone distinguished for its pyramidal resorts and extended miles of thin, golden sand bordered by the azure Mediterranean, and it's every Montpelliérain‘s go-to beach getaway at the weekends.

We get it, Montpellier has a lot going for it on the culture front, and it's one of those Med – or marginally-Med – sunny hotspots Europeans love escaping to in the colder months, but why would nomads come here in the first place?

Why Do Nomads Love Montpellier?

A Young Handsome Man Working With His Laptop From A Cafe In France, Digital Nomad In Europe

The answer is simple: this is a youthful, diverse city, with one-fourth of its 277,000 residents being young students – Montpellier University is one of the oldest and most renowned, right? – and the environment is a lot livelier than in other historical French cities with aging populations.

Cities with a younger demographic tend to be naturally more open to foreigners, as students are likely to speak English as a second language, unlike older generations in France, and the social scene is considerably more active.

People Sitting At An Alfresco Cafe In Montpellier, Occitania, Southern France, Southern Europe

Additionally, the high quality of life is a huge draw for nomads, particularly Americans who live in sprawling cities made for cars: in Montpellier, you most certainly don't need one, as it is the largest pedestrian zone in Europe.

This makes the city a lot greener and more pleasant to live in, and we can't think of anything better than to swap Paris' gritty, crime-ridden metro or Marseille's intricate bus networks for Montpellier's walkable, cafe-filled Old Quarter.

Alfresco Cafes In Montpellier, Occitania, Southern France, Mediterranean Europe

Speaking of cafes – us nomads always gravitate towards them in the end – Smartscrapers counts at least 80 such establishments in this conurbation, from your mainstream work-friendly Starbucks, to more authentic, local-owned spots.

Montpellier Is Not As Expensive As Paris

Montpellier can be less expensive to live in than other cities in France, as it is not on every tourist's radar, miles away from other tourist hotspots (it's a whole 464 miles from the capital, and 202 miles from Nice and its adjacent French Riviera).

A Person Taking Out Euro Notes From A Wallet, Europe Travel Concept

Unless they are headed for Occtania specifically, they are unlikely to add sunny Montpellier to their itinerary. If anything, it makes it less crowded and not nearly as costly in Paris: according to Nomad List, it costs $3,715 per month to live in Montpellier.

That's still pricey, considering living expenses in your average nomad hub are between $1,000 and $2,000. Still, if you're keen on moving to France, you should know that, in general, it is not an affordable destination.

Digital Nomad Working From A Municipal Park In An Unspecified Location

That being said, Montpellier is a far better deal than Paris, France's number one city, or the traditional Azure Coast near the Italian border, where nomads set themselves back between $4,582 and $5,151 per month.

Finally, Montpellier is well-connected to other parts of France and other European countries. There are high-speed ‘TGV' train connections to Paris, Marseille, and Nice, as well as cross-border service leaving from Montpellier towards Spain.

As for the local Montpellier–Méditerranée Airport, it hosts a number of low-cost flights from European, North African, and Middle Eastern hubs, such as Rome in Italy, Heraklion in Greece, and Istanbul in Turkiye.

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