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Shopping in France is a different experience than what you
are probably used to in the UK especially in Brittany.
Apart from a few, nearly all shops are closed on a Sunday,
most local shops also shut on a Monday. In addition nearly
every shop closes at 12.00 for lunch and doesn't re-open
There is a more relaxed attitude as well so for example at
a supermarket you may well find the cashier having a long
chat to a customer even when there is a queue waiting. All
of this can seem very frustrating at first.
This can come as a bit of a shock after getting used to
supermarkets open around the clock, also the pricing
structure seems to be different. In the UK we have come
accustomed to continual offers "buy one get one free etc"
and also expecting to be able to find any product whether it
is in season or not.
Here, in Brittany the "Promotions" generally only last a few
days but can be very good for example, fresh sardines in
our local "Intermarche" last week were just 1.70 euros a
Kilo and generally speaking, produce is a lot more locally
produced and consequently seems tastier.
Buying a house
The procedure for buying a house in France is different to that in the UK
and there are a number of things to bear in mind.
The sale of the house is handled by the "Notaire" who normally acts for
both the buyer and seller he or she is impartial and acts as the French
State's representative. The notaire will compile a report "dossier de
diagnostic technique" which will cover and give details on such things as
termites, electrical wiring, drainage, asbestos, energy perforamance etc but
not a valuation. Remember that although they have a legal obligation to
comply with the law it is not their job to offer you advice that you may be
used to getting from a solicitor in the UK.
The Notaires fees including all stamp duties etc will probably be about
6%-8% of the purchase price
When buying a house from an Estate Agent ( immobilier ) it is normal in
France for the buyer to pay the agents fees which should be included in the
advertised price, these are normally a lot higher than the equivelent in the
UK and can be around 5%-10% acording to the property.
There is no "Subject to contact" as in the UK when you make an offer in
France, once it is accepted and subject to a 7 day cooling off period then
both the buyer and seller are obligated to proceed with the sale/purchase.
This is called a "Compromis de Vente" and is the official sale agreement a
deposit of 10% is also required at this time
The next stage after all the enquiries and reports have been made by the
Notaire is the signing of the deed of sale "Acte Authentique" you will need
fully cleared funds deposited with the Notaire in advance of this
The Notaire will read out all the clauses to you to make sure you
understand them, you may need an interpreter to attend if your French is
not good enough, quite often the estate agent will do this but If one has to
be provided by the Notaire a charge may be made.
We, like the majority of people have our electricity supplied br EDF the state
owed supplier. After completing the purchase of your house you may need
to ask the notaire for an assetation number which you will need to supply to
EDF to open an account. In France there are different fixed Monthly tariffs
according to the level of supply. You can choose between 3kw and 36kw,
the higher the level the higher the Monthly tariff.
3KW may well be OK for say a small one bedroomed cottage and 6kw
would probably be enough for most reasonable sized houses without
electric heating. We have a 9kw supply for a 5 bedroomed house with
electric radiators and have found this to be adequate. The Monthly charge
for our 9kw supply ( October 2012 ) is 7.87 euros plus tax.
There are a number of options available for the supply we have a
"Tariff Bleu" contract that gives us cheaper eclecticity during the night, we
pay .0916 per KWH during the day and .0567 per KWH during the night both
are plus taxes and suplimentary charges. ( October 2012 )
EDF, read the meter twice a year and send out bills every 2 Months, you
can opt for paying a regular amount each Month in which case this is
adjusted at the end of the year to the actual charges.
There is an excellent English speaking helpline 00 33 ( 0 )5 62 16 49 08
if you need to speak to them. If the meter is outside the house they will just
arrive and take the reading otherwise they will make an appointment, If
they make the appointment time there is no extra charge however if you
want to make a specific time there is a charge of 29.11 euros
( October 2012)
One of the peculiarities of French electricity supply is that you can choose
the amount of power you want to come into the property from 3 Kilowatts
to 36 Kilowatts!
It may well be the case that the level of the KW supply of the previous
owner is higher or lower than your own needs.
You need to establish with the owner and/or EDF the level of the supply and
decide whether it will meet your requirements.
The level of supply and current tariff arrangements are stated on the back
of the electricity bill, if you can get one from the current owner.
If you have few electrical items you would probably be able to manage with
3KW, but a safe bet for a modern family household would be 6KW, although
you would probably need more if you have full electric central heating.
Alternatively, you may want to start on the lowest supply and, if the supply
trips out when you are using different electrical appliances in the house,
upgrade to a higher supply.
There are very few programs in English on French TV,
however pretty much all of Brittany is covered by Astra
Like the majority of UK expats I suspect, I have a satellite
dish and receive the full range of programs available on
I already had a "Freesat" box with twin recording drives
which I bought over with me and had a dish and wiring
installed over here for around 200 euros.
As in the UK, a TV license is required, this covers any number
of TVs in the house and will be free to those over 60 who
There are a number of Internet sites that stream TV, I am
not sure how legal this is or whether it will continue but at
present it is quite possible to watch hundreds of channels this
My favorite is Filmon ( see link in right hand column ) I
actually watch this on my Ipad but will work just as well on
other tablets and smartphones.
Filmon Streaming Internet TV
EDF French electricity company
Winter Fuel Allowance
Anyone resident in France coming from the UK and over the
age o 60 is entuitled to claim the UK winter fuel payment
which is currently £100 for a single person and £200 for a
The ruling on this changed in June 2012 when persons who
moved to France before they were 60 and unable to claim
before became entitled after a European ruling.
If you do have a problem and you are not receiving your
allowance the number to ring is 0044 1912187777
from 8am to 8pm weekdays, you will need to have your
National Insurance number to give to them
See link under website addresses
All water supplies are metered in France and read normally
once a year. The cost of the water charge comprises of a
standing charge which includes a sewarage charge if connected
to mains drainage and a consumption charge.
An average cost per house connected to mains draiage would
be around 200-300 Euros a year
There are 3 water companies in France however your water
will probably be supplied by Veolia Water which incidently is the
largest water supply company in the world.
SPANC Do you need your Fosse
Septique ( septic tank ) inspected to
meet French regulations?