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Making the best of your money

France has a reputation for being an expensive place to live, but there are always ways to save money and live frugally.

With the prevalence of low-cost budget airlines offering flights to many areas of France, travelling doesn’t always have to break the bank. Look up deals online and remember to book early, as prices tend to go up the closer you get to your travel dates. Whether you will be travelling to and fro frequently, or your family will be making trips to visit you in your new abode, there are deals aplenty if you spend a little bit of time searching and plan ahead. For those coming from the UK, ferry fares from Dover-Calais are another option, particularly if you have more luggage or live close to the Channel, and the price of crossing can be very reasonable.

If you reside in a city, consider using public transport rather than buying a car, as fuel is expensive in France and you may struggle to find somewhere to park it. Most large cities, Paris being a prime example, have excellent Metro systems which are safe, frequent and wide-ranging. Check out daily or weekly passes to save money on fares, for example, the Carte Imagine'R in Paris offers those under 26 unlimited monthly travel for areas in and around Paris.  

If your location means you do need to own a car, when moving around the country avoid busy motorways with expensive tolls (such as the Calais-Nice motorway) by navigating the bison-future network of Roman roads which run throughout France. Not only will it save you paying a toll, but you may also see parts of the country you wouldn't otherwise get to experience. You can check out more information on the bison-future network on their website.

During your travels make sure to avoid traffic fines by familiarising yourself with the road and speed regulations in France. Remember too that after one year you will need to apply for a French driving license or take a French driving course. If you live in the country, you could simply enjoy the quiet, rural lanes by bike.


France is, of course, renowned for its excellent food and wine. There are ways to make savings but still enjoy the quality of the cuisine.

Take advantage of local outlets specialising in a particular food groups, for example, the boulangerie, grocer or butcher — you may find excellent quality local food at affordable prices. It is also a good idea to compare prices in the local supermarket, as some outlets have a discount section or have brochures listing special offers. Buy seasonal fruit and vegetables from the local market — they will be fresh, and you will find yourself getting plenty of your five-a-day.

Shop locally for wine from smaller growers rather than in large roadside warehouses, or check out what’s on offer at the supermarket — you can often find excellent quality wine and very reasonable prices there.

While eating out at a restaurant for dinner may be expensive in larger cities, investigate deals or head out to a smaller town or village to the local restaurant, you may find you get a lot of high quality, well-presented food for surprisingly few Euros. Alternatively, consider going out for lunch instead — the cost of a meal at lunchtime may be considerably less than for dinner. Or take your freshly-bought market produce and have a picnic in one of the many parks or areas of natural beauty.

Be wary of tourist destinations at peak times as often the cost of everything will climb during the summer season, including food, and supermarkets may tail off their discount offers. If you live in or near a popular tourist destination, consider stockpiling the basics before peak season to save some money.

Other Goods

Buy second-hand goods if and where you can, and learn to haggle. Talk to the locals or other expatriates — often word of mouth recommendations for builders, where to buy cheap blinds or the best local wine outlet are the most valuable. Remember that the ability to speak French when negotiating will get you far.


Take advantage of renowned museums throughout France opening their doors for free. On the first Sunday of every month, museums will hold open or free evenings. Check out their websites and plan ahead for a low-cost trip.

In Paris, you can get a two-day museum pass for €48 (£42) or for free if you are a student under 26 and from a country which is a member of the EU (price correct July 2018).

Learning the language is important if you want to get the most out of living in France — if you are in Paris, look into reduced price French classes to polish up your language skills without emptying your bank account.

It's always a good idea to keep track of what you're spending — wherever you live in the world. Equally as important is making sure you take care of you and your family's health. Don't leave insurance cover to chance — pick up the phone and speak to us today about your plans for the future and how we can support you.

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