France is home to world’s richest woman

Two French tycoons have made it into the the annual American-dominated Forbes rich list, it was revealed on Tuesday, including L'Oréal heiress Liliane Bettencourt, who can lay claim to the grand title of the world's richest woman.

France is home to world's richest woman
Principal shareholder and heiress of L'Oréal Liliane Bettencourt is the world's richest woman Photo: AFP

In securing the title of the richest woman in the world the heiress and principal shareholder of cosmetics and beauty giant L’Oréal, Bettencourt, was the only female to make it into the top ten of the 2013 Forbes list. At the grand old age of 90 Bettencourt, whose fortune is estimated to be worth around €30 billion was also the oldest person in the top ten.

She is joined in the pantheon of the world's most loaded people by her compatriot the CEO of luxury brand LVMH (Louis Vuitton Möet Hennessy) Bernard Arnault, who scraped tenth place with his estimated fortune worth 29 billion dollars.

However in dropping down from his position as fourth in the 2012 list it seems Arnault has not had as good a year as he might have hoped. 

With French tycoons taking ninth and tenth place, France was the second most dominant nation in the top ten.    

However this might not last.

Arnault may be flying the flag for France this year but by next year he could be representing different colours all together after making a controversial bid for Belgian citizenship last autumn.

The mogul has denied he is seeking tax exile status from France but continues to cause uproar in his native country after it emerged earlier this year he had  transferred 'almost all' his wealth to Belgium.

French luxury goods mogul Francois Pinault also featured in the top hundred securing 53rd place with a net worth of $15 billion and compatriot Serge Dassault, who made his fortune in aviation, made it to 69th place with $13 billion. 

Mexican magnate Carlos Slim was the world’s richest person for the fourth year running, with his fortune estimated at an incredible $73 billion. He is followed by Microsoft former chief executive Bill Gates with has a handy $56 billion to fall back on if times get hard.

The most dominant continent represented on the list was Asia, which is home to 608 billionaires. There were 440 from the North America and 324 in Europe.

Forbes top ten richest people in the world 2013:

1. Carlos Slim – $73 billion
2. Bill Gates – $67 billion
3. Amancio Ortega – $57 billion
4. Warren Buffet – $53,5 billion
5. Larry Ellison – $43 billion
6. Charles Koch (ex-aequo) – $34 billion
6'. David Koch – $34 billion
8. Li Ka-Shing – $31 billion
9. Liliane Bettencourt – $30 billion                                                                      

10. Bernard Arnaud – $29 billion

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
For members


How to avoid huge ‘roaming’ phone bills while visiting France

Ever wondered how to avoid paying exorbitant roaming fees when travelling in France? There are ways to keep your internet access while avoiding being hit by a big bill.

How to avoid huge 'roaming' phone bills while visiting France

Travelling without access to the internet is almost impossible these days. We use our phones for mapping applications, contacting the Airbnb, even scanning the QR code for the restaurant menu.

If you’re lucky enough to have a phone registered in an EU country than you don’t need to worry, thanks to the EU’s cap on charges for people travelling, but non-Europeans need to be careful with their phone use abroad.

First things first, if you are looking to avoid roaming charges, be sure to go into your settings and turn off “data roaming.” Do it right before your plane lands or your train arrives – you don’t want to risk the phone company in your home country starting the clock on ‘one day of roaming fees’ without knowing it.

But these days travelling without internet access can be difficult and annoying, especially as a growing number of tourist attractions require booking in advance online, while restaurants often display their menus on a QR code.

So here are some techniques to keep the bills low.

Check your phone company’s roaming plan

Before leaving home, check to see what your phone plan offers for pre-paid roaming deals.

For Brits, if you have a phone plan with “Three” for example, you can ask about their “Go Roam” plan for add-on allowance. You can choose to pay monthly or as you go. Vodafone offers eight day and 15 day passes that are available for £1 a day.

For Americans, T-Mobile offers you to add an “international pass” which will charge you $5 per day. Verizon and AT&T’s roaming plans will charge you $10 per day. For AT&T, you are automatically opted into this as soon as your phone tries to access data abroad.

These all allow you to retain your normal phone number and plan.

Beware that these prices are only available if you sign up in advance, otherwise you will likely be facing a much bigger bill for using mobile data in France. 

Buy a pre-paid SIM card

However, if you are travelling for a longer period of time it might work out cheaper to turn off your phone data and buy a pre-paid SIM card in France.

In order to get a pre-paid SIM card, you will need your passport or proof of identity (drivers’ licences do not count).

Keep in mind that you will not be able to use your normal phone number with the new SIM card in, but will be able to access your internet enabled messaging services, like WhatsApp, Facebook and iMessage. Your phone will need to be ‘unlocked’ (ask your carrier about whether yours is) in order to put a new SIM card in.

Here are some of the plans you can choose from:

Orange Holiday

This is one of France’s largest and most reputable telephone companies. The “Orange Holiday” SIM card exists specifically for tourists. At €39.99, you will get a SIM card that will enable you to make and receive calls and texts from a French phone number. You will have unlimited calls and texts within Europe, as well as two hours of calls and 1000 texts outside of Europe (for messaging people at home, for example). You will also have access to 30GB of data in Europe. 

The initial plan is valid for 14 days, and begins as soon as you begin calling, texting, or surfing the web. In order to get this SIM card, you can go into any Orange store and request it. Some supermarkets and airport kiosks might also carry this SIM card.


SFR is another well-known French phone company. Their pre-paid SIM card is called “La Carte,” and they offer several different options based on how much internet, calling, and texting you want access to. The basic plan is for 30 days and starts at €9.99 a month, which includes a €10 credit. Once the card is in your cellphone, you can add on a top-up option as needed.

You can buy this SIM card either online or in an SFR store. 

La Poste Mobile

This is the French phone company that operates in conjunction to the post office. What is especially convenient about this SIM card is that you should be able to get it at any post office in France. Plans range from €5 to €30 based on the number of days and the amount of calling, texting, and internet you are looking for. 

Bouygues Telecom

Finally, Bouygues Telecom also has some offers for prepaid SIM cards. Their plan, the “My European SIM” is especially made for tourists. It costs €39.90 and allows you unlimited calling and texting in France and Europe. The plan offers 20Gb of data. You can plan ahead for your trip by ordering this card online, but you can only activate it once you arrive in France.

The card actually comes along with a tourist guide (offered in 10 languages) and a map of Paris Metro.


Though buying a pre-paid SIM card is a very useful option for visitors spending a decent amount of time in France, it is important to be sure you are buying a pre-paid SIM, rather than accidentally signing up for a monthly plan.

Some mobile phone carriers offer very affordable monthly plans, which might look appealing to tourists. However, these plans will continue charging you after your vacation has ended, and many involve complex processes, including sending a registered cancellation letter (in French), in order to cancel the plan.

UK contracts

If you have a UK-registered mobile phone, check your plan carefully before travelling. Before Brexit, Brits benefited from the EU cap on roaming charges, but this no longer applies.

Some phone companies have announced the return of roaming charges, while others have not, or only apply roaming charges only on certain contracts.

In short, check before you set off and don’t assume that because you have never been charged extra before, you won’t be this time.