Buying Spectacles In France

As most people are aware buying spectacles in France is generally a very expensive business compared to the UK. Having been given a new prescription I was considering purchasing from one of the UK online sites but first checked several French opticians websites expecting the worst. To my utter surprise Optic 2000 have a current promo for frame plus single vision lenses for just €39!

A prompt visit was made to a local branch where it was confirmed that it was so, new spectacles duly ordered. Strangely there are no prices displayed on any of their ranges and it was necessary to ask about the promo.

I've got multifocal contacts. I never knew they existed (astigmatism and hypermetropia here too) until I was getting my prescription filled and the optician pointed them out.

They did a 'controle de vue' and now wear these

But the issue is getting the appointment with the ophtalmologue - tried in February and November is the earliest and that involves 200km round trip :-(

I don't need to see an ophtalmologue, but no prescription = no reimbursement by the mutuelle (and the optical portion pretty much covers what we pay for the year!) So worth it.

Yes, I know. But I am one of those people who cannot manage lenses. My optician has tried (often) but I cannot insert them myself, so he decided I'd be better sticking to specs! C'es la vie!

My wife has just had her prescription filled at an Optic 2000 optician. Two pairs of glasses, including one with special lenses that go dark in the sun ... €1! True, we have health insurance, but even then we were more than pleasantly surprised.

Mike - I've been using Zennioptical for 6 years now - absolutely brilliant service, delivered quickly be Fedex - can't speak highly enough of them.

Yep Roger - Spain cheap as chips and really thorough, walk-in eye tests.

LOL - I think you'll find contact lens technology has moved on somehwat George !

Try sitting in a rally car hurtling along a forest road at 100 mph+ when suddenly your driver jabs his finger on his nose (to stop his contact falling further) and for another 8 mls at speed he's driving single handedly whilst you change gear with your right hand ............ that put me off contacts for life ! And the remainder of the stage was fast and twisty!

I don't have a mutuelle, but my wife does. But she finds is much cheaper to have her prescription fulfilled by Zenni and forgo the mutuelle's contribution.
Ordering online can seem a bit intimidating at first, but Zenni state the dimensions of their frames and it is easy to compare with an old frame that fits well. You also need to supply your P.D. (pupillary distance.) That might be on your prescription. but it is fairly easy to measure with the help of a friend or partner. You might also have to "translate" your French prescription into American, but that is quite simple to do. -
Zenni are quick and efficient and their low prices are only partly to do with being in the Far East. They don't have to maintain expensive high street premises and they send their glasses in the cheapest of plastic cases. But there is no problem with the quality of the product.
Take a look at
It would be nice if someone else would give them a try and report back. Then people wouldn't just have to take my word for it..........

Glasses direct UK offer a very inexpensive prescription lens product - shipping to France is £2.00 extra. They also pay for individual referrals £25 each. You have to have an authentic prescription within the last two years to order.

Mike, the CPAM reimbursement tarif is low, and our Mutuelle is not exactly generous. Last time we had new specs in France we ended up with a net bill of almost €2,000 - we both had varifocals and decent frames. Problem lies with the excessive cost of both the lenses and frames in France, with low tarif reimbursement for both. I must say, I reckon Simon has the answer, fly to Boots, or take a trip into Spain.

I must be lucky as all of the opticians in my area seem to offer eye tests, however if you need anything wider than just an eye test then it seems to be a bit more complicated. I need the full range of tests as there is glaucoma in my family, but actually arranging a test here has proved rather challenging. The local opthalmic clinic put the phone down on me as I couldn't quite understand all of their questions, so I emailed in French, and haven't heard anything back. They also operate the other clinic closest to me, so now my doctor is arranging for me to go to Rennes. Having said that my local optician was excellent, new glasses delivered in 3 days! Getting contact lenses here is still a bit of a faf, takes up to 2 weks by post rather than the 1 day I was used to in the UK, once you know this and build it in to your ordering schedule its pretty simple and prices are cheaper than the UK (only slightly). Like many things in a new country it takes a little time to work your way around some of the processes.

My experience of French opticians is that there is usually a deal to done. Once you have a prescription, go to several different shops and ask for a devis. Ask for the '1st price' frames which are always hidden in a drawer or bottom display shelf, and make sure the devis from another optician is just on view in your bag or hand. You will be amazed at the 'deal's' which can be found. I have a complicated prescription but my glasses are very comparable in price to my parents who live in the UK ( and often less!)

My mutuelle costs me 2.5% of my salary per month and is debited at source. It is a real mutuelle, so run on a cooperative basis (rather than a private health insurance thing calling itself a mutuelle). It covers me and 5 children.

Other people's hypochondria isn't a problem, after all I already subsidise criminals, roads, schools, hospitals, bin collection etc etc etc.... just like anyone else who pays taxes.


What you have quoted reads as if it has come straight from a marketing department press release or a sales training manual. To my shame, I have to admit to having written that sort of stuff myself. The intention is to get some column-inches in the trade journals and raise the visibility of the company and its products. These days, I guess it's to get prime placing on a Google search.
It's the same sort of thing as "Helps to reduce the visible signs of aging." or "Approved by nine out of ten dentists." Make of it what you will and believe it if you want to!

€45 a month and they are unfortunately having to subsidise me!

That’s ok Steve, I just enjoyed researching the lens and medical equipment manufacturer, Largest in the World, French and on the Cac 40 stock market.

So Mikes comment about not believing everything I read is somewhat off the mark.

Essilor International S.A. is a French company that produces ophthalmic lenses along with ophthalmic optical equipment. It is based in Charenton-le-Pont (near Paris), France, and quoted on the Euronext Paris Stock Exchange.

Essilor is responsible for creating Varilux, the world’s first progressive lens which corrects presbyopia and allows clear vision in the wearer’s near, intermediate and far vision. The company formed from the merger of ophthalmic firms Essel and Silor in 1972. Essilor now operates in over 100 countries over five continents. Its activities are largely focused on research and development. It is the world’s largest manufacturer of ophthalmic lenses.[2](ack to Wiki for info.)

Having just looked at order confirmation again I see I’m paying much more for Essilor 161.12€ lens, better quality + UV CHRONO coating, than the frames.

2nd pair (sunglasses) lens with same visual distance but different frames are almost free at €20 only. 1st pair, net of 15% discount but incl taxes,

If I’d not upped the lens quality or had them coated, I could have only paid paid 222.95€ for the 2 pairs, also No P&P charges, 2 yr warranty on frames, opticians advice and proper fitting next week.

Vero’s needs and mine are/were different from the norm for specific reasons. I have seen through my investigating the websites I could have reduced the cost by buying exactly same specs (specifications!) online here, but I’d still need them fitted and would not necessarily have understood the differences on my own, so needs must and do cost me more this time.

So how much does you mutuelle cost you per year? And do you mind subsidizing other peoples' hypochondria?

Heck Shirley - the title of this discussion is 'Buying Spectacles in France' not 'Why do you Live in France? - subtle difference? :-)

I speak as I find and if that's just too uncomfortable for some people then so be it - nothing I can do about that. I'm simply relaying my experiences and thoughts in an open and above all, honest way. That doesn't mean I'm right and you're wrong - or vice versa. I couldn't care less if you agree with me or not - but that's no reason to make sweeping judgements about what I may or may not consider to be important. You don't know me and I don't know you.

My prescriptions for both specs and contact lenses are simple an straightforward - luckily for me I have no complex associated medical conditions to factor in. As I've already stated - my eyes (and teeth and all my other bits!) are very important to me so I'll track down the best available care to help me along the way. Sometimes, that's simply not in France.

Oh and by the way - the very best, quality service is in fact free - it doesn't cost anything. You just need to treat people how they want to be treated.

Wow, Shirley!

I am here because of all the good things in France, but I couldn't survive on an English pension if I allowed myself to be ripped off by every cunning sales pitch. So I am quite happy to drive a car without power steering and central locking, on budget tyres, because I believe that safety is more to do with how you drive than what you drive. And if you are going to judge me by the clothes I wear, then I don't want to know you.
So far as ordering from the Third World is concerned, we learned our lesson from the business heroes of the Thatcher generation, who moved production abroad in order to make bigger profits and received knighthoods as a reward.
I don't see much wrong in spending some of my money on the work of poor foreigners, though I would agree that they deserve better working conditions and pay. But it's better than foreign aid that seems to go to corrupt politicians and officials and is often linked to dodgy arms deals and backhanders for rich middlemen.