French retirement debate: your experiences of working in your 70s

Readers who worked on for many years past the standard retirement age - some even into their late 80s - share their thoughts

Connexion readers give their thoughts on working past retirement age
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“For the pleasure of helping,” “tiring but pleasing”, “to mix with people” - these are some of the reasons readers have given as to why they chose to work into their 70s and even 80s.

We asked for feedback as France debates raising its minimum retirement age from 62 to 64.

This has led to massive protests, with a sixth day of nationwide action threatening to “bring France to a halt” being prepared on March 7.

Below is a selection of your feedback on why you worked past the retirement age in your respective country - whether for love of the job, to stave off boredom or for financial reasons.

Whether it be working with wine, with children, or animals, it seems that for many of our readers, the old Confucian adage rings true; ’choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life’.

Colin Rigg, 87, a former careers advisor and technician who moved to France after his full retirement, told of his experiences continuing to work back in the UK in areas he is passionate about.

“It is essential to keep active, whether by working or as a volunteer,” he said

He officially retired at the age of 65 after his job had become “routine… I needed a change.”

After retiring, he volunteered in various sectors in the UK related to his former work.

He also earned a diploma from the Wine and Spirit Education Trust in the UK and worked part-time during and after his studies both at wine tastings and providing assistance in a wine shop. The “pleasure of helping people choose wines” for special occasions was something he enjoyed well into his retirement, he said.

“I gave up all work just before my 72nd birthday [because of moving to France] otherwise I would have continued on a part-time basis.”

He said he struggles to understand how the French are “dissatisfied” with retirement in the country, despite having higher income levels and support than those who retire in the UK.

A 75-year old reader, who asked not to be named, said that she continued to work as a teacher past the age of retirement to help have a better pension in France.

“I moved to France in 1987… When I reached 60 (the age of retirement for women in 2007), I hadn’t been here long enough [to accumulate a full French pension],” she said.

She worked full-time until the age of 70, increasing her French pension from €200 to €2,000 per month but even after this continued to work part-time for a further two years because her employers asked her to stay.

Her teaching job kept her “on her feet all day” and she believes keeping active via her work helped her to avoid health issues.

Roger Preen, 82, still works for a company he founded in the 1970s in the UK. As a family business, it is close to his heart

“I find no hindrance from the state and what little help I need from the health system is readily available,” he said.

He does not take pay from his company but has recently cut down on the number of days he works per week but still enjoys working with his family.

Lindsay Phillips, 88, lives in Provence, where he produced wine for almost 20 years.

He moved to France in 1994 at the age of 60 after taking early retirement from his job in the UK.

He opened his vineyard which produced wine until 2010, and he sold his wine until 2016. Even at his current age, he still maintains the domaine but now rents his vines to nearby producers.

Mr Philipps only stopped producing wine because of the “economic impossibilities”, but was happy working in the sector well into his 70s. Most of the work on the vineyard was done by him and he had no permanent labour help..

He also offered tours of the vineyard

Now that he is in full retirement, he is happy to be spending more time on his boat, which he has owned for over 30 years and often uses for trips up and down the Riviera.

Rafael, 77, from Venezuela has continued his work as a trader for two main reasons; “Because I like it and it is easy.”

He is still “physically well”, allowing him time to work, although he says he is not doing as well as previously with his trades - but not because of health issues.

Another reader, Peter, told us he worked until the age of 72, not for money, but for “a reason to get out of bed and mix with other people”.

Mark Davis, in his 70s, owns a small beef and sheep farm in Normandy with his wife, where he continues to work past his official retirement.

“I have been working on the farm more or less full-time unpaid, and would be quite happy to carry on for another few years,” he said

He works on his farm, which he lovingly calls a little “gem”, and would “hate to move” off of the farm and stop working.

“We get no hassle from the authorities or our neighbours about working much longer than others here… No-one wants to stop us,” Mr Davis added.

“To be honest I really can’t call this work, every day is different, challenging and interesting.”

Both he and his wife have suffered from some issues recently, such as Covid and work accidents.

The only thing that would stop him working are further health issues - something he is not facing right now as his “strenuous job… keeps me young”.

An American reader, 65, is finishing up a final year of working in the US before returning to France..

After living in France for 28 years, she moved back to the Midwest and now works in a large American supermarket.

It’s a strenuous, 40-hour work week of “hauling stock, moving back-stock and inventory and auditing grocery items weighing up to 22 kilos during an 8-hour shift”, yet she is happy with it - “I don’t need a gym membership!” she said.

“As an American, I’ve grown up used to the idea of working until 65, and more! It’s actually 70 for full retirement in the US,” she added

She plans to return to Normandy at the end of this year, and take early (US) retirement to be closer to her son who lives in France, combining both her US and French pensions.

She will continue to work on pleasure projects, such as translating her previously published weight-loss book from French into English, to help those suffering from type-2 diabetes.

“I feel it’s time the French faced the reality of having to work longer: almost all other countries are,” she said.

Are you past retirement age but still working in France or abroad? Did you work past retirement but recently stopped? What do you think about the retirement age in France? Let us know via

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