France - Cost of Living Expensive?

A separate discussion about the price of chemicals has prompted me to start this one - so as it’s Friday, I thought I’d start with fish…

I popped over the border into Spain today and picked up, amongst other things, some fish - I love a good daurade royale / sea bream :open_mouth:

The first thing about the price of fish over the border is that it’s loads cheaper - 2,99€/kg v 6,95€/kg in my local Intermarché at the moment. The next things that stand out are around service and presentation. I wasn’t asked if I wanted the fish descaled and gutted - it just happened. The 4 fish were then placed in a plastic tray and wrapped in clingfilm (to avoid leaks) before being weighed (!) and bagged up - total cost 11,90€ for my 4 fresh beauties!

(Note: I’ve always wondered why in France the stalks on fresh brocoli and the ‘tops’ of fresh leaks are so long - paying for something I don’t use - yet lol)

I suppose the other ‘stand-out’ thing is the price of diesel - only 1,09€/litre v 1,35€ at my local today - massive difference. Yeah I know it’s taxation - still naff though.

It’s hard for me to identify anything that’s low cost or good value in France at the moment - please don’t say lunch, you can get a decent one just about anywhere in the world. Those of you used to me will know that I removed my rose tinted glasses some time ago - so please bear with me. I love my life in France but I’m realistic - and also very lucky to live so near to Spain and Andorra. My views may help those considering a move here - or maybe not! :wink:

Come on - enlighten me - what’s cheaper, or better value in France than anywhere else?? :-:fish::fish:


Brushwood blows through this post as we wait for the answer

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Yeah!!! You’re right Mandy and…Brandy / Cognac & delicious, delicious, Armagnac!!! I know they’re all pretty good value in France but I’m spoilt with Andorra up the road - although, as Andorra isn’t part of the EU, the customs restrictions are a bit naff! :frowning:

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Not much I agree.
How about train fares? I don’t honestly know cos I only ever use trains in France. My nearest station to Paris is around 170km and the fare is usually around 25-28€ but I can get it for 15€ sometimes (that’s without a cottontop rail card). As compared to, last time I looked into catching a train in the UK it was over £100 for a similar distance. But whether France is especially cheap or the UK is especially expensive (or I just don’t know how to find good deals) and how Spain compares, I have no clue.

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Yep Anna - kerchinnnnnng! You could be onto something there although…there are loads of pre-booked deals / apps around at the moment which makes things pretty competitive. I’ll give you that one though! :slight_smile:

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Presumably French wine is also cheaper in France than elsewhere, certainly than in the UK. But I don’t like wine (I’m a heathen I know) so not sure about that.

We’re only a couple of hours from Spain and have been there a couple of times in the past. Hubby bought Drambuie (can’t find that in France) and I bought lots of toiletries at stupidly low prices.

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Wine definitely, you can get a bottle drinkable wine for under 2€ though it’s hit and miss if you don’t know what you’re buying. But I guess that’s the same in most of mainland Europe, I think it’s just the UK where you can’t get anything under a fiver.


You’re on the ball Johnny - it took 14 minutes - well 13 if you count your own reply about Brushwood - how much do you pay for that then?

Hi Simon… and everyone…

Mmmm… the one thing that stands out are property taxes.

Our UK property, with no mains drainage, no mains water supply, no pavements, no street lights… we loved it… and yes, we did have electricity. But the Council Rates were expensive as it was seen as “desirable”… :zipper_mouth_face:

Here, heart of a “desirable” village :zipper_mouth_face: , mains water (and well), mains drainage, pavements, lights, amenities… and yet put together, our TF and TH… come to much less … :relaxed: so we find more cash in our pocket…


How about property prices. In our part of France, the Southern Tarn, you would struggle to find many houses over 200,000€. In my home town in Essex (no jokes about Essex girls please!) there are no properties less than that.

Not sure about prices elsewhere in Europe though.

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When I first moved over my property taxes were slightly higher here, for a much smaller house. Mind you I had been getting the single person discount in the UK.

It’s not really like for like though is it. In a sense a house in the UK is a commodity not a home. If you could somehow get them out of the “commodity” market they wouldn’t cost as much.

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There is an element of that, of course, but I’m also comparing rural southern France (and a poor area at that) with a town within commuting distance to London. It was a bit flippant to compare really.

I think there is a different attitude to property here generally. My French friend is building her own house locally and once finished it will have cost her more than she could sell it for. In the UK this would be a crazy thing to do. Her attitude is that the resale price is irrelevant as she will live there for the rest of her life and then pass the property to her son. Just about everyone I know here has lived in the same house since I’ve known them unless they are renting. Most definitely not the case with my UK family and friends.

My wife and I are elderly retired people living on pension income only. We pay considerably more in property tax (TF and Td’H) here than we paid in UK where we lived in Essex, in a smaller (but much more valuable) house. We also pay Euro 100 a month in tax on our joint net “Government” pension income, considerably more than we paid in UK. Utility bills are about the same as in UK.

Household goods and ‘prepared’ foodstuffs are roughly equivalent to UK prices. We shop for packaged groceries at Lidl and Utile or Coccinelle. We find meat is much better value for money here in France.

Transport (by car) is about the same, but seems cheaper here because there is no congestion and the roads are much better. Bus and rail travel is markedly cheaper in France, although there seems to be no concessionary bus travel here. There is more free off-street parking locally than in suburban England.

The main thing is that, for both of us, life is just happier, more restful, less uncouth and dog-eat-dog, richer and better integrated than life in the south-east of England; and such benefits are beyond any price. It seems that the “cost of living” in UK is often paid in days, months, and years of unfulfilled over-activity and endemic anxiety, class-ridden hierarchy, sterile and soul-less educational tinkering, and brutish isolationism. We’re glad to be rid of it.


To be honest I’m not concerned about the price of fish. I enjoy eating out on my frequent trips over to the coast and on those occasions I’m always amazed how cheap it is. My major outgoings are considerably less in France than they would be living where I come from in south west England. What I pay out on my housing, cars and boat is much cheaper in every case. I don’t really care if spirits are cheaper in Spain or porridge oats are cheaper in Germany, I live in rural France and do my everyday shopping locally. I’m certainly not going to drive myself mad worrying if somebody Helston, Rayleigh, some Spanish village or Belgian town is paying marginally less for a bit of cheese or a bar of soap. In these days of the Internet I have the ability to buy life’s luxuries wherever they seem good value without leaving my seat. As I said before, I enjoy a much higher standard of living here than I would, on my income, in the UK. The word enjoy is a good one because I enjoy so much about my life here that costs sod all. I enjoy the peace, quiet and emptiness of my local countryside; I enjoy the friendliness and genuine nature of the people I know locally; I enjoy the way that complete strangers act in such a polite and respectful manner when they pass you in the town centre or country lane; I enjoy the quality of the food and drink and I enjoy the weather. I live in the sort of home that I could not dream of owning in the part of England I come from and every day brings something new, interesting and worthwhile. Life has its frustrations and down moments but in the whole scheme of things those minor moments pale into insignificance. I enjoy life here and would not swap it for the life I left half a life time ago on that island off the coast of Europe, the place where the traffic is hell, life is about keeping up with the Jones family and the main topic of conversation is about which celebritity did what on TV last night. Me, I’m happy and enjoying life and really cannot have empathy with those who spend their whole time wishing they were somewhere else. As for the price of fish, I’ll leave that to those who know the cost of everything and the value of nothing.


David, I take your point but you could have made it sound a bit less “I’m alright Jack” and dismissive of people less well off than you. Price is a factor for many of us, and if you’re saying that that makes us less valuable as people then you’re totally contradicting your own argument.


I don’t understand your answer Anna. I’m not being dismissive of anyone. I just don’t rely on anything that is expensive in France. I find the cost of living perfectly acceptable. I would prefer an exchange rate of 1:1.25 but hopefully that might happen again one day. Perhaps I’m not typical as I left Britain in the mid 1980s to live and work in Europe but that’s how I see it and I’m entitled to my opinion.


@Aquitaine I actually read your post as being anti-UK as much as anything else.

It’s sometimes difficult to compare standards of living across borders when we don’t compare like for like. Quite obviously, when relocating from say the Southeast of England (or even Paris!) to anywhere in rural France, it’s not exactly comparing apples with apples! Furthermore, in my experience, many of my fellow immigrants in France don’t travel outside of France!

Price is incredibly important to me - its has to be. I save about 12,50€ just filling up with diesel - over a year that’s a huge amount to me. We stock up on many great value household items and Spanish / international brands that are simply not available in France. Bizarrely, many French products are available (cheaper!) over the border and many French chains (Carrefour, Leroy Merlin, Brico Depot, Decathlon etc) are present in the shopping areas. Not so many Spanish or UK chains visible in France… As an aside, I love sitting in a Spanish or Andorran cafe and being served by smiley, happy, professional people who appear to be enjoying what they do! I’m lucky I get to have the best of both worlds! :wink:

It’s great that many of us (I’ll say it again - me included!) love our lives in France but…it’s only when I ‘break for the border’ that I see how expensive things are in our adopted country. I fully understand that consumer prices and taxes are high in France because of the huge costs of employment and welfare. I guess that’s just a fact of life you have to live with as an immigrant here. It’s all very well to say ‘I love my life in France’ but that doesn’t stop me feeling a bit ripped off and looking for a bargain.

One further observation - when I do pop across the border, at various crossing points, into Spain - the car parks at the supermarkets, commercial and shopping centres are notably full of French reg cars. Now what does that tell you? There not all there to brush up on their Spanish or Catalan! :slight_smile: