Top 10 facts about saving money in France

Written by admin on May 15th, 2011


You are about to buy a French property or you may have already bought with us at Sextant French Properties?, You may now be interested in a few money-saving tips to help you along the way. Have a look at our advice about saving money in France:


1. Currency exchange

Exchange rates are rising and falling constantly, going through cycles. But now, the Euro is going to weaken against Sterling. This could be good news for those moving Sterling from the UK to France, but it does make planning ahead more difficult.

Solution: Take out a fixed term-contract on currency with a broker if you make monthly transfers. Thus, if Sterling weakens, you can avoid the effects for the duration of your contract.


2. Bank account charges

In France, different banks charge different rates so it is worth shopping around! On average, the annual cost of a French bank account is €65 or so. If you are paying more than this rate, you should try to find a cheaper solution.

Your current account is called the ‘Compte Courant’ and an instant access savings account is a ‘Compte sur Livret’. Banks can also offer fixed term deposits, for over a month, which offer better interest rates; these are called ‘Comptes à Terme’.

But French overdraft charges are very high. Don’t hesitate in asking your bank for a statement if you don’t know what charges you’re paying. Make sure you’re not short of money on a Friday as the banks close from Saturday to Monday included. Be especially careful around public holidays when they also close.

3. Energy savings

According to EDF (the French electricity company), if you turn down the thermostat of your heating from 20c to 19c, you can reduce your consumption by up to 7%! For any enquiries, you can ask EDF for a free assessment about making the most efficient use of electricity and gas: it is called the ‘Conseil Tarifaire’.


4. Paying bills

In France, you must be very cautious about paying your bills on time. You’ll avoid late payment charges which are rather hefty. Late payment of tax and energy bills can reach sums of between €45 and €60. Most of them can now be paid online; it is easier, well explained and straightforward. In case you can’t pay, contact the appropriate services straightaway. Know that it is always possible to discuss your options first without late payment charges, and for a system to be worked out that suits your budget.


5. Buying a car for less

Try a car hire company:

Cars are quite expensive in France turn out to be very expensiveyou could try a car hire company. Buying directly from them could enable you to save up to 10% of a normal purchase. For example on a €15,000 car, you could save €1,500..

Try a second hand car:

Internet auctions can be far cheaper than any car dealership.. You could buy relatively new cars at very big discounts; with savings estimated at about 17%.


6. Shopping

Shopping in so called ‘hard discount’ storessuch as Lidl, Netto or Aldi  instead of well known grocery chains whose prices remain higher than the average would save you money too. Also regularly check second hand products sold on the internet, especially on Ebay, Le Bon Coin or CDiscount. These are sources of potential bargains.


7. Avoid southern motorways

Perhaps surprising for some, French motorways aren’t all free- there are still toll charges on many roads. If you have bought a house in the South, maybe in PACA or Languedoc-Roussillon, try to avoid some of the motorways, especially during summer holidays when they are very busy anyway. How about Taking the train or the TGV (the High Speed Train) if you want to go to the seaside, especially as it is quicker and cheaper if you book your tickets a long time in advance.


8. Going places

There are so many activities that you can do in France for free including going to festivals, visiting museums, and hiking. It is worth checking with your Syndicat d’Initiative and plenty of websites that offer great deals . In addition, you could try house swaps, an activity that’s becoming more popular in France. Just let someone use your house for a predetermined period (a week-end, a couple of weeks…) and use theirs in another part of the country- a great idea for a cheap holiday!


9. Find out about the health system

As you may know, one of France’s greatest assets is its state health system. Find out how it works and what you need to do to obtain the right level of care and insurance. Keep updated with the latest health stories as well as first-hand accounts of people who have used the system. Nevertheless, for private travel, health insurance is advised.


10. Decorating your property

If you’re looking for decorative items and furniture for your French property, shop around. The main retail outlets (including Conforama, Ikea and But) will be more expensive then certain smaller companies out there. Try Fly and Gifi who have similar products for far less. La Redoute, one of France’s biggest companies, sells furniture and homeware at reduced prices too.

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