Life in France can be expensive, so here are our money saving tips to make yours go that bit further.
1. Compare petrol pump prices
You can compare the price of petrol at garages local to you on a government website: www.prix-carburants.gouv.fr.
All you have to do is to put in your postcode and select the type of fuel you require.
The service stations local to you will appear, with the price and the date and time the price was last changed.
This means you can easily find who is selling the cheapest fuel for your car near to you or while travelling.
If you click on each station, the website gives a map to show its location, other services and opening times.
In 2006, a law, updated in 2009, was passed making it obligatory for any outlet selling diesel, SP95, SP98, SP95-E10, E85 and LPG to display their prices on the government website.
The seller has to notify any change in price and the website is checked and updated daily. New prices for the day can be consulted from 05.00.Once a week, you can also find out the average price of petrol nationwide, including the price for central heating oil, both before and after tax.
Service stations can be fined for not providing the correct prices and are checked by the fraud and consumer goods office La Direction Générale de la Concurrence, de la Consommation et de la Répression des Fraudes.
Anyone who notices a difference in the price at the pump and the price on the website can complain via prix-carburants.gouv.fr/contact. You can also notify if a service station does not appear on the site.
When planning a journey, enter the start and arrival communes to find out where best to fill up on your travels.
The site will calculate a route and give details of each station along the way, with the address, price for each fuel type and a detailed map showing how to find it.
2. Earn money by recycling old ink cartridges
Recycling old ink cartridges is not only good for the environment, but also for your bank balance.
Empty ink cartridges should never be thrown away with the rest of your household waste, as they are not bio-degradable and contain components which are toxic for the environment.
Most shops selling ink cartridges will have dedicated bins where they can be recycled, and certain déchetteries will also accept them.
There are some companies that will recycle them and give you money for doing so – usually between €0.50 and €4 apiece.
Stationery supplier Bureau Vallée, for example, offers up to €2 for empty cartridges when you bring them into one of its shops.
A table on the company’s website shows the prices for different models – cartridges produced by Canon or HP are worth more than those which are simply compatible with these brands’ printers. Cartridges which are still usable are reconditioned, filled with ink, and put back on sale, while the rest are recycled.
Other businesses allow you to send in old cartridges.
Cynkle, for example, offers free delivery once you have accumulated €20-worth of cartridges, and has an online simulator to estimate their value. You should receive payment within 24 to 48 hours of the parcel arriving.
France Cartouches has exactly the same offer, though it promises payment after sorting through the cartridges, which could take up to a week.
To find more companies offering this service, search “rachat cartouches d’encre vides”.
3. Save money on holiday train travel
Once a year, you can get a 25% reduction on train tickets to go on holiday.
The offer is open to most people, including employees, independent workers, job seekers and the retired.
It includes family members going with you, including children under 21.
You cannot use this offer and another reduction card for the same journey.
The discount concerns return tickets for a journey of 200km or more. You have to fill in a form, which you can download here depending on your situation.
Take it to a station at least a day ahead of your journey.
Salaried employees must have the form completed by their employers. Others have to take proof of status to their mairie, which will stamp it. UK pensioners could use their S1 form.
You must also take proof of relationship to family members you travel with.
If you pay for at least half of the ticket in chèque-vacances, the reduction goes up to 50%.
4. Check if you are eligible to open a French LEP Savings account
The regulated LEP (Livret d’épargne populaire) savings account has an interest rate of 4.6% after a rise in August due to inflation.
LEPs are tax and fee-free.
Currently, almost 15 million people could technically be eligible for an LEP in France, but only seven million have one, according to the Banque de France.
This is despite them being reserved for lower-income households, with an interest rate more than double that of a Livret A or Livret de développement durable et solidaire (LDDS).
To qualify for an LEP, you must be:
- Aged 18 or over
- No longer financially dependent on your parents
- Financially resident in France
- Receiving an income lower than the cap set by the state
For 2022, the income limits were as follows, calculated based on the income you received in 2020 (your taxable income for 2021).
Each person in a household is considered to be ‘one unit’ (part), and any children are ‘half a unit’.
- 1 part: €20,296
- 1.5 parts: €25,716
- 2 parts: €31,135
- 2.5 parts: €36,554
- 3 parts: €41,973
- 3.5 parts: €47,392
- 4 parts: €52,811
- Any extra half parts: €5,420
Upon opening the account, you must transfer €30 minimum. Deposits and withdrawals are free and available at any time. The only condition is that the account must remain in credit.
The account limit is set at €7,700, not including interest. This means that including interest, the amount can be higher than this.