It’s hard not to fall for the Mediterranean island nation of Malta. At just 122 square miles, it may be the smallest country in the European Union. But the tiny multi-island archipelago has a lot going for it.
When seeking a calm green space in Paris, most tourists naturally gravitate toward the ﬂawless beauty of the Jardin des Tuileries or Jardin du Luxembourg. But, as lovely as these gardens are, the prevailing message is: “Look, don’t touch.” Even sitting on the grass is usually forbidden.
"The Impressionists painted here for a reason,” says Ira Faro of his new home in the southern French region of Languedoc-Roussillon. “The feel of the place is very powerful… It’s as though the light is shining from everything."
I’m strolling along a pretty, red-brick promenade, gazing at a scattering of fishing boats bobbing in the luminous, blue-green waters of a small harbor. The warmth of the May sunshine on my shoulders feels like an embrace.
The French healthcare system, legendary for its excellence, is about to become much more accessible and affordable to expats. This is because in January this year, France instituted a new universal system of healthcare, called the Protection Universelle Maladie (PUMA). This system grants an automatic and continuous right to healthcare to those who legally reside in France in a “stable and regular” manner. This means that, if you’ve lived in France for three consecutive months and are a permanent legal resident (that is, you live in France at least 183 days a year), you’re eligible to apply for public healthcare coverage.
France is a land that seduces quietly. One minute you’re a tourist, gazing up at the craggy peaks of the Alps, or wandering through a picture-perfect medieval village, or biting into a warm, flaky pain au chocolat in a Parisian café. And the next moment, you realize that you’re in love. And you never want to leave. It’s no surprise that France inspires such love. With its stirring architecture and landscapes, diverse climates, incomparable foods and wines, and mellow lifestyle, the country offers a personal gift to everyone.
Picture a jumble of honey-colored stone houses with russet lichen-covered roofs nestled together in a valley, thick with lush green trees. Rising above the village, a medieval château of pale stone stands protectively, its slate-grey turrets piercing the sky. At the foot of the village, a river slides by with deceptive slowness. This is the kind of sublime scene you’ll find in the Dordogne, again and again.
France has no shortage of elegant beach towns, but none transports you to a more graceful time and place than the island of Île de Ré. Floating in an ocean of clear blue-green water on France’s southwestern coast, this little-known island is a world of scrubby pine trees and golden shores.
Of the handful of canal towns that fancy themselves the “Venice of France,” the port town of Sète, in the Languedoc region on France’s Mediterranean coast, comes closest to deserving that title. Its blue-green canals are stunning, wide, and elegant. And, as in Venice, they are an integral part of daily life. But, swap Venice’s sleek gondolas for Sète’s workaday fishing boats. And instead of multi-million-dollar edifices lining the canals, expect to see rows of lovely, pastel-hued, 19th-century buildings with rusting, wrought-iron balconies and flaking façades.
For city lovers like me, Montpellier’s draw is its historic center, Écusson. Dating from the 10th century, Écusson is full of wonderful flagstone streets lined with timeworn, sand-colored stone buildings. Boutiques and shops, from upscale to funky, abound. Tree-lined squares, with their inevitable spate of cafés, reveal themselves at every turn. A pedestrian-only zone, it’s the sort of place you can never tire of exploring.