A study of 25 French cities has crowned Aix-en-Provence as the least stressful city in France, thanks to its green spaces, ample sunshine… and yoga rooms?
The study assessed a number of traditional – and unique – quality-of-life factors to make its conclusion.
Cities in the Pays de la Loire region generally ranked highly, with Angers, Nantes, Rennes, and Poitiers rounding off the top five.
Paris was ranked in 24th place, just ahead of the most stressful city, Lille.
The study, compiled by Le Figaro, aimed to rank France’s cities by their quality of life rather than their cost.
Although financial factors (which certainly affect stress levels) were not directly studied, a number of traditional stress influencers - such as hours of sunlight, green spaces, noise and traffic levels, crime rate, and population density - were all looked at.
A number of more unique indicators were measured, such as the number of times “stress” and related terms were googled, the number of yoga rooms per 1,000 inhabitants, and the percentage of the population taking psychotropic drugs.
Only cities themselves (and not larger suburbs of France’s major cities) were measured, giving the final list of 25.
Aix-en-Provence takes top spot
Only slightly edging out last year’s winner Angers, Aix-en-Provence managed to take the crown, thanks largely to its sunlight and green credentials.
With an average of almost 113 hours of sunlight for citizens per month, it was ranked second only to Marseille in this area but trumped all other cities regarding green spaces.
More than 70% of the city’s communal space is classed as natural and “green” (as opposed to artificial or developed), with lush parks filling many areas of the city.
In comparison, the next highest on the list for non-artificial space was Perpignan (48%), with Paris coming last with only 2% of its communal areas being natural.
The “city of a thousand fountains” also ranked highly due to its low crime rate, reduced traffic around the city, and low population density.
The cities rounding off the top five generally fared well in low noise levels (fewer than 5% of people living in any of the cities were exposed to noises higher than 68 decibels) and had a low percentage of people taking psychotropic drugs. But, they received much less sunlight than their southern counterparts.
Lille and Paris fare poorly
Paris is generally viewed as a high-stress city, and its place near the bottom of the list is hardly surprising.
Long commutes, an average of 155 hours per month lost in traffic, and of course, the nation’s highest population density cemented the poor showing – however, the city does have the most cycle lanes in the country.
Lille’s induction, however, was not only due to the north’s lack of sunshine. It was also its long commuting times, the lack of stress-reducing facilities, and little undeveloped surface area (only slightly higher than Paris, Lille only summons 2.5% of non-artificial space within city limits.
From tranquil to tense: How French cities rank on stress levels
- Le Havre
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