Buying a Home in France: Dealing With Estate Agents

ImageOnly some 50 per cent of property sales in France are handled by estate agents (agent immobilier). However, where foreign buyers are concerned, the vast majority of sales are made through agents or handled by notaires (see below). It’s common for foreigners in many countries, particularly the UK, to use an agent in their own country who works with one or more French agents. A number of French agents also advertise abroad and many have English-speaking staff (so don’t be discouraged if you don’t speak fluent French). Continue reading “Buying a Home in France: Dealing With Estate Agents”

House Hunting in France

There are many ways of finding homes for sale in France; the main methods are listed below:

– Newspapers & magazines – including the English-language publications, weekly French property newspapers such as De Particulier à Particulier, Le Journal des Particuliers, La Centrale des Particuliers and La Semaine Immobilière, national newspapers in your home country and France (if you’re looking for an expensive property), local magazines, papers and newssheets (which may have private property advertisements), property magazines published by the French estate agent chains (e.g. ORPI), and general retail publications (e.g. Daltons Weekly and Exchange & Mart in the UK);  Continue reading “House Hunting in France”

French taxes overview

As you would expect in a country with millions of bureaucrats, the French tax system is inordinately complicated and most French people don’t understand it. However, it’s essential to be aware of which taxes you should pay and when. Before you move to France, take expert advice, preferably from someone with knowledge of the tax systems in France and your home country, so that you can benefit from the advantages of tax planning. Once in France, it’s best to employ an accountant (expert-comptable) to handle your tax matters, especially if you’re self-employed. Continue reading “French taxes overview”

Banking in France

Banking in France, like many things French, is a baffling mixture of the ultra-modern and the antiquated. Online banking is widely available but most banks charge you to use a service that saves them man-hours and facilities. New cheque books are issued automatically but you’re expected to collect them from your branch and must ask for them to be posted to you. The following are some of the main characteristics of French banking. Continue reading “Banking in France”

French healthcare system

State and private health services coexist and overlap, state healthcare often being identical to private treatment. Those who qualify for state healthcare include employees, the self-employed contributing to French social security and EU pensioners who have reached retirement age in their home country, as well as the dependants of all these. If you qualify for state healthcare, you must register at your nearest social security office (caisse d’assurance maladie – listed on  and in the information pages of phone books). You must present proof of employment or self-employment in France or form E-106 or E-121, proof of residence (e.g. a property deed, rental contract or proof of registration in your commune) and your passport. After registration you’ll receive a social security card (Carte Vitale – soon to be superseded by the Carte Vitale 2), the size of a credit card, with your social security number on it. This should be presented whenever you require medical treatment, although if you forget it you can complete a form instead. Continue reading “French healthcare system”

French Emergency Services

France has extremely efficient emergency services (services d’urgence et d’assistance) and except in remote rural areas the time between an emergency call and arrival is usually brief. However, telephone operators rarely speak English, so be prepared to explain briefly in French the type of emergency and your exact location – try to give a landmark, if possible (see Emergency Phrases below). Continue reading “French Emergency Services”