Banking recommendations for new arrivals?

Looks like we’re going to have a choice of three close by:

  • Credit Agricole
  • Caisse d’Epargne
  • Credit Mutuel
    …where we’ll need ‘current accounts’ (accessible online)…credit/cash/debit cards that can be used for online shopping…savings accounts.

From that specific trio, anyone got any recommendations ? horror stories ? Info about French bank charges ? Veering towards CA because they seem to have a dedicated English language line (true ?) which’d be v.handy while we find our feet.

Is it also maybe worth considering dedicated online-only banks like ING ?

Thanks !

I suspect each and everyone has their own favourite… and their own horror story…

Personally, I am with Credit Agricole. There is a local branch I can visit and chat with a real person if I wish to… other than that I use cashpoint and on-line… works fine for me. I have a debit card… and they offer all sorts of savings accounts etc.

More or less every (actual) bank will offer these sorts of facilities…

No experience of “branchless” banks…

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Credit agricole Britline is a branch of the bank in Caen, yes they are English speaking but I think you have to have your bank with them there. It doesn’t matter to them where you live in france , but can be a PITA when you need to speak to someone face to face. The different regions all have their own CA banks which seem to be run independently of each other.

There’s always la banque postale which has the advantage of branches absolutely everywhere.

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@Inglese Sorry… Maybe I missed something…are you looking for an “English speaking” Bank…??

My CA talks only French… but that has never been a problem… until now, after 20 years… they have suddenly appointed an English-Speaker to handle my finances… :roll_eyes::roll_eyes::roll_eyes:

Oh sorry I didn’t think about it being an English speaking bank that was needed.

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@Stella No…don’t think I need a day-to-day English speaking bank…just access to someone, somewhere who speaks English at the start of an account setting-up process, so I’m sure I’m getting what I think/hope I’m getting…

We visited the bank closest to where we bought our house… it happened to be CA… and we have never regretted joining them. At that time they had no-one who spoke English… but nowadays I believe English is available in most Financial Institutions…

best of luck… oh, and the government have made it extremely easy to change Banks… so, should you make a bad choice… all is not lost, it is dead simple…

I have certainly benefited from banking with a local branch who know me as a real person.


Of those 3, I would go with credit mutual. I suspect all banks are similar in what they offer. We have been with CIC for over 20 years, and have no complaints.

Is it also maybe worth considering dedicated online-only banks like ING ?

Yes. Walk-in banks are a dying breed and they are closing branches relentlessly. Our HSBC is now virtually no more than a glorified ATM and we have to travel over 55kms to find our nearest branch.

As soon as I pluck up the courage I’m going to change to either Boursarama or Ing.

I’m another one who likes being able to walk into a local branch (within 3 miles) and speak face to face…I chose Credit Mutuel de Bretagne as I’m in Brittany…it seemed logical to me to choose regional…,

Fortunately for me my bank manager speaks far better English than I speak French but I didn’t know that when I first arrived here and nervously walked in there to make my first appt to open a French bank account…

I really like too that I can contact her by email and she replies within a day…x :slight_smile:

I emailed my conseiller one Sunday and was amazed when she replied on the same day.
There is no shortage of walk-in banks around here, on the coast where I spend a lot of time or in the town in northern France where I spent last week. I think that using HSBC as an example is odd as they have never been a mainstream high street bank in France, their branches have always been few and far between.

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I’ve never been with HSBC but the bank/banks I was with in uk over a lifetime seemed to steadily become impossible to get hold of…outsourced call centres…hostile staff in said outsourced call centres…it wasn’t always that way…my first mortgage was with a small regional building society…a branch in my village…I guess I remembered that friendly local service when I moved here and chose regional…

My wife and I have a joint account with Credit Agricole Normandy which operates a branch in town that replicates a branch of the Westminster Bank in the 1960s, including a very avuncular conseilleur who comes from Sussex and holds court in the corner office at the busiest carrefour in town, where he can see everyine who is somebody and lots more (like us) who are nobodies, but part of his huge portfolio of 650 British residents hereabout. He is happy, eager indeed, to have rdvs with us, lasting 30-45 minutes of animated conversations about all and sundry, which occasionally includes cautionary tales about past clients who came variously unstuck, and whom he tried to steer away from unwise ventures, but didn’t listen. He organises British tea-parties every year in the pre-Christmas periid which his manager attends with gritted teeth and her best English.

He is very affable but rather indiscreet, and he clearly enjoys his role as Agony Uncle, francophone Mr Fixit, and the Schadenfreude that is the daily icing on his cake. I do like him, and he has been a source of valuable help and useful "reliable’ contacts. But I’m careful what I tell him. Fortunately, he’s happy to talk.

The banking system is rather arcane, but those of us old enough to remember ink-wells and blotting paper can cope quite well, and it’s quite reassuring in an old-fashioned way, and CA-N ooerates a fairly good on-line system for uncomplicated transactions. I don’t use cheques as I would hate to fall foul of the Bank of France and have my name in their Black Book.

For international occasional very modest transactions I use which is very simple and efficient and to which I was recommended by SFN.

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We use xendpay…modest amounts fortnightly…I love your descriptions of day to day life in france…from veggies to chickens to people…x :slight_smile:

I have had a Credit Agricole account for some years but also two (online only) accounts with AXA Banque, which are excellent. You get cheque books etc and they reimburse your card fee if you spend sufficient with your cards, which I do. All French banks charge for their cards but I don’t know any others who do that. Their helpline is a Paris number and I have always found them very helpful if I have had a query.

It is also a nuisance on the rate occasions when you want to pay in a cheque if you don’t happen to bank in Normandy or Brittany.
You have to countersign it and then post it.

that’s the beauty of la banque postale, it’s national while almost all high street banks are regional :wink:


Re UK banks *“outsourced call centres…hostile staff in said outsourced call centres”.

This is certainly not the case for Lloyds, the CS of which has been good and getting better, year by year for 10 years now. In my experience it is absolutely first class. I’ve been with them for 55 years.

The call centres are in Wales and Scotland, so you get variations on a theme of delightful Celtic English accents. The efficiency and helpfulness that I experience every time I call has been exemplary. I have been known to write to Lloyds to tell them so.