On the day Socialist president Francois Hollande takes power, there are signs that wealthy French citizens are thinking about moving abroad to escape tough new tax rules.

"/> On the day Socialist president Francois Hollande takes power, there are signs that wealthy French citizens are thinking about moving abroad to escape tough new tax rules.

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FRANCOIS HOLLANDE

Rich French head for the exits

On the day Socialist president Francois Hollande takes power, there are signs that wealthy French citizens are thinking about moving abroad to escape tough new tax rules.

Rich French head for the exits
Paul Mison

A survey by London-based real estate agent Knight Frank recently reported it saw inquiries about expensive London properties from French residents spike by 20 percent.

That was at the same time that inquiries from other European countries in general fell by 10 percent.

Francois Hollande has pledged to introduce a 75 percent tax on earnings about €1 million ($1.3 million).

“Seen from abroad, France is the last country where an entrepreneur wants to go,” said Marc Simoncini, founder of French dating site Meetic.com, on BFM TV.

“I don’t know any British person who’s come to set up a business in France. But I know plenty of young French people who’ve gone to London to do that.”

A property lawyer in the Belgian capital of Brussels confirmed the trend.

“Since Monday it’s been a rush,” he told Le Parisien newspaper.

“In two and a half days I’ve received fifteen new applications. I have a huge number of meetings.”

A Swiss lawyer has a similar story, claiming to have dealt with as many serious inquiries in the last three months as he usually would in a year.

In England, Alexander Kraft, president of Sotheby’s International Realty France told the newspaper there had been “several” wealthy French people who had shown an interest in moving to London since the first round of the presidential elections.

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FRANCOIS HOLLANDE

Here’s the latest in France’s presidential race

President Francois Hollande warned would-be successors they should cleave closely to Europe as it was "impossible" that France could contemplate going its own way.

Here's the latest in France's presidential race
French centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron in Reunion. Photo: Eric Feferberg/AFP

Here are three things that happened in the campaign on Saturday:

Let them throw eggs

Conservative candidate Francois Fillon, under pressure over allegations of fake parliamentary jobs for the family which have hit his poll ratings, received a chaotic reception on a trip to the southern Basque region where some protesters pelted him with eggs.

Fillon, who has accused Hollande of helping foment a smear campaign against him amid claims his wife was on the public payroll but did little for her salary, ran the gauntlet in the small town of Cambo-les-Bains.

Locals demanding an amnesty for radical Basque nationalists banged pots and pans, hurled abuse and objects.

“The more they demonstrate the more the French will back me,” Fillon insisted before meeting with local officials.

Warning on Europe

President Francois Hollande warned would-be successors they should cleave closely to Europe as it was “impossible” that France could contemplate going its own way.

In a barb aimed at far-right National Front candidate Marine Le Pen, Hollande said: “So some want to quit Europe? Well let them show the French people they would be better off alone fighting terrorism without the indispensable European coordination…

“Let them show that without the single currency and (single) market there would be more jobs, activity and better purchasing power,” Hollande said in Rome where he attended the ceremonies marking the EU's 60th anniversary.

Le Pen, favoured in opiniion polls to reach the second-round run-off vote in May, wants France to dump the euro, but Hollande said that would lead to devaluation and loss of purchasing power as he warned against nationalist populism.

'Not Father Christmas'

French centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron, seen in polls as beating Marine Le Pen in the May 7 run-off, was in Reunion, a French overseas department in the Indian Ocean, where alongside discussing local issues, he told voters he was “not Father Christmas.”

“I don't have the solution to all problems and I am not Father Christmas,” the 39-year-old former economy minister and banker admitted, saying he had not come to make “promises.”

He indicated he would focus on education as a priority on an island where around one in five youths are illiterate.