Top 10 of the most polluted cities in France, those that give themselves a bad air

Even if the existing rankings of the most polluted cities in France have difficulty in agreeing, some bad students are regularly noticed by their poor performance and their bad habits in terms of pollution. Top 10 of these cities that are not lacking in air.


Forever the first, even in the rankings of the worst. The city of Marseille would therefore be the most polluted city in France, in particular because of the concentrations of nitrogen dioxide in the air due to road traffic. Let’s remember in passing that Marseille rolls over Paris being the most congested city in France… and not just Pastis! It also suffers from the maritime traffic linked to the freight of goods and the transport of passengers which contribute to rotting its atmosphere. Marseille would also record a nitrogen dioxide concentration rate 5 times higher than the WHO recommendations! Suffice to say that the Good Mother has hissing bronchial tubes!


There is nothing exotic about this beautiful ocher color that flies over the capital on sunny days. It does not come straight from the Sahara but from the exhaust pipes of vehicles which play the bumper cars in and around the city and which spit their fine particles into the air. Car traffic would thus be responsible for 60% of emissions. As for ozone peaks, Paris has reached records with emissions 75% higher than accepted standards. Enough to catapult the capital among the 20 most polluted cities in the world. Here it is Paris polluted!

Top 10 of the most polluted cities in france, those that give themselves a bad air

3. Grenoble

Oh Grenoble! Its mountains, its highways, its nitrogen dioxide and its fine particles… A combo that makes the whole city and its inhabitants cough, as they keep their heads stuck in the basin formed by the surrounding relief. Fortunately, to survive, the people of Grenoble have found a solution and breathe in the scents that escape from the taco restaurants all day long. Admittedly, it’s pollution like any other, but at least it has the merit of making people salivate while filling our stomachs.

4. Lyons

In Lyon, pollution is found in the air, in the ground and sometimes even in the water! Rarely spared from pollution peaks linked to road traffic, the Lyon conurbation suffers above all from significant soil pollution due to its sites and other industrial wastelands. There would thus be no less than two million square meters of basement with a high content of hydrocarbons, lead and even chromium. Scientific measurements would also have revealed in some places abnormally high nitrate levels in the water, as well as traces of arsenic. A big and beautiful city as we like them!

5. Montpellier

By dint of welcoming all the French people in need of the sun and in search of a cool and pleasant living environment, the city has turned into a paradise for cars that public transport facilities are struggling to limit. Traveling in Montpellier and the surrounding area has become a tan, all year round, with pollution peaks to asphyxiate a Parisian. As a result, the Hérault prefecture is on the second step of the podium of the most polluted cities in France. To remedy this, a Low Emissions Zone will be set up which will prohibit the circulation of the most polluting vehicles.

Top 10 of the most polluted cities in france, those that give themselves a bad air
Photo credits (CC BY 2.0): Wolfgang Staudt from Saarbruecken, Germany


Regularly singled out by the European Union for its abnormally high NO2 (carbon dioxide) levels, Strasbourg suffers from its geographical location which places it on the axis taken by road transport to our eastern European neighbours. Road traffic would thus represent 60% of NO2 pollution and almost a third of fine particles. The region’s industries are not to be outdone and release pollutants into the air, the readings of which are largely understated either because they are absent from the lists of components to be controlled (hydrogen sulphate and butadiene for example), or because that manufacturers are responsible for self-control… hence the image, a certain tendency to leniency.

7. Roubaix

Just because it’s under our feet doesn’t mean it’s not harmful to health. The industrial past of Roubaix thus continues to pollute the air and the daily life of its inhabitants. More than 160 sites would thus be contaminated with heavy metals, hydrocarbons and solvents. A heritage from the time when the city hosted a rich industrial activity, particularly textiles. When rehabilitation programs for these polluted areas exist, they take a long time to set up. Elsewhere, residents are not always aware of the risks they run. Not enough, however to make them lose the north.

8. Le Havre

At least, Le Havre announces the color: it will be gray, like its industrial zones and gates. The air quality is in tune, ie mediocre with strong ozone pollution as well as abnormally high sulfur dioxide levels. By the way, our sense of smell also takes a hit. What, to take back in heart the song of the supporters of the Stade Malherbe de Caen when their team meets that of Le Havre: “Le Havre, it’s ugly, it stinks and it pollutes”!


If life is more beautiful in the sun, it may also be shorter. At least, that’s what you might think when you take a look at the quality of the air you breathe in Nice. Despite the great efforts of the municipality to reduce atmospheric pollution (development of the tramway for example), the city still suffers from maritime pollution emitted in particular by cruise ships), from that emitted by air traffic from the neighboring airport which continues to expand, and a policy of concreting certain neighborhoods which tends to reduce the quantity of green spaces, while increasing the density of the number of inhabitants. It would almost make you want to spend your old age there.

10. Mulhouse

One day in February 2021, a Swiss company specializing in air purifiers and instruments for measuring the quality of the latter published a ranking of the most polluted cities in the world. The info is repeated everywhere: in France, Mulhouse would be the fourth most polluted city in France! Except that it is enough to click on the link to display the source of the study to see that this is far from being the case, Mulhouse appearing in 19th position. The proof that pollution is not only in the air but that it also exists in the information that circulates, sometimes without any verification.

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