Banks ....French ones. Recommendations and avoid like the plague hints please

I really would like to change banks - but who to? I am currently with (gritted teeth) Credit Mutuelle and would like to up sticks. Would not go to Barclays if twas last bank on earth.

Apart from that, recommendations please. English speaking helpline not important and I don't have a UK address but am often paid in sterling.....


I am with BNP Paribas, Fontainebleau branch. They have been fantastic with me, and have actually went out their way to help me with unrelated matters where I struggled with the language, which probably wont affect you, but the whole service is very very good. The manager looks after us, and understands the difficulties we faced. I have a mortgage with them also, which they guided us through, and just find them very easy to deal with. Hope this helps.


Jim Dawson

I've just noticed that there is a B.Tapie banner flying over this thread.

How should I put this.... well, just stick to the bank next door and you'll be safe... or at least safer!

I'm at Banque Populaire too, at a village branch and I find them great. However, I live elsewhere and need to transfer funds through other branches (big town ones) and I can't say that I have noticed them bending over backwards to be of assistance. The other difficulty is that it is a huge bank (Natexis...) split into regional offices and communication between them is slow.

Still, M\my opinion is that all banks are the same at the end of the day, but if you can have a small agency to take care of your finances, service will be good, or at least very personal!

Is this discussion still live? I opened an account with Banque Populaire Occitane [Gaillac Branch] in 2004 and have been completely satisfied with their service ever since. True, there are the mysterious charges for various "services" but from what I gather, these are common to all French banks. In the early days I could have done with a "Britline" but BP didn't have one then. But the advantage of having to do everything in French is that you learn the terminology. Recently transferred my account tothe [tiny] Puylaurens branch where the manager could not be more helpful and friendly.

We had a similar experience. We later added a Livret A savings account and my wife has her account with them as well. One SLIGHT thing to watch is that our account number has an "S" in it which British banks always seem to interpret as a "5" so sometimes it's necessary to draw attention to that point. Otherwise v happy, but I have no business banking experience in France.

we use HSBC - their global banking service (which allows you to instantly move money from your account in sterling to & fro one in euros) is excellent. The only problem we've had was when we tried to get a mortgage through them - they were initially keen then our application fell into a black hole and was never seen again. Apart from that though we have no complaints. The local team are French but have 1 person who speaks English, though we rarely need it and as we do most of our banking online - the internet banking system is the best for us.

OK, here is the result. I popped in to enquire at my local mini Post Office and made initial enquiries about the La Poste Banque and it sounded like a "goer". An appointment was made to speak to an English speaking counsellor at a main P.O. not to far away and I have been very pleased with the outcome. It was easy to open a basic account. All I needed was my passport, proof of residence (EDF bill), and a bank statement that shows what input I get at the moment. I can manage the P O account online, I get a cheque book, basic bank card, and most important of all, I can pay cash or cheques into my account at any Post Office in France without getting the French Shrug. I can transfer funds online and set up direct debits for utilities, etc. All for under 31 a year! As soon as its all in place and functioning I shall dump CA and their inward looking, regional franchise type setup and get back to the modern world.

After Nola's recommendation I had another look at the LaPoste banque. The English translated part of the website is now much better than it once was and I have a lot better understanding of what is on offer now. As long as you don't want all the bells and whistles it looks like I could save a bundle on "bank charges" as well. I'm very lucky there is a tiny sub post office down the road from my winter location where the lady speaks a fair bit of English so I'm going to make a start tomorrow (if she's open). I will report back if it all works out.

I would say that all banks stink to high heaven, honestly. You won't find that one group gives better or worse service than the others, but you will find that some agencies are better than others and this is random, unfortunately. If possible find an agency in a small place, they will relate to you personally and be more understanding and flexible, mine calls me when I mess up (I do...) and I've always been able to patch things up.

In terms of asking for a loan, usually the agency decides up to the tune of 100,000, anything above, they have hardly any influence at all.

"How about transferring them via Western Union or the like? either to your bank account or to someone near your bank you trust?" Possibly.... All those Nigerian scammers seem to like it.

How about transferring them via Western Union or the like? either to your bank account or to someone near your bank you trust?

I did some research about a year ago and La Poste banque did seem to have a lot going for it regarding recurring charges, etc. There were so many choices of types of account I ended getting a migraine trying to translate it all. Then of course if I could manage to open the right account for my needs, I would have to convince the utilities, etc. to take their pound of flesh from the new account, not both! Apparently there is no English speaking liason person with LaPoste like there is with CA. It would be a sunny day indeed if the English speaker was actually available when you need them. Mine is away now until the 23rd. Great.

Why don't you open up a La Poste account for this and then transfer any remaining money over when you decamp back home?

"I mean, pay cash into your branch then move it yourself electronically"

Therein lies the problem. I am unable to pay the cash into my account. I am away from home for the winter because I can't afford to heat the meat locker I call home. If I was still within the same department it is easy. Stuff the notes in the envelope provided, fill out the form on top and bung it in the appropriate hole in the wall. Outside the department it gets tricky. Outside the region it is impossible. I am making enquiries about IBAN charges at the moment but not holding my breath. French banks rarely answer emails.

Yes that annoyed me with CA too! Reason number 3 as to why I am glad I moved to another bank!

I mean, pay cash into your branch then move it yourself electronically

Have you tried the CA Online service, we do all transactions that way

Like most things in France, it seems finding the right bank is a total lottery. I have just found out today that I cannot pay cash into a local CA branch for crediting to my CA account in another region. It appears it is only possible within the same department, and then its a bit of a faff. I am now faced with the prospect of driving a round trip of 620 miles every month to pay in my pension for the bills to be paid while I am away from home for the winter. In my view, the sooner all the banks collapse and we start again with a more useful and efficient system the better!

Absolutely agree Jane. Have been with Credit Agricole Normandie (Britline) for 6 years and have never had cause to complain, infact just the opposite. I loved the fact that they explain their insurance policy details and fine print extremely helpful. My spoken french is still not that great though slowly improving and I find there willingness to explain all things french absolutely wonderful.

Can't speak more highly of them as a bank and service provided.