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Price hikes: How life in France will get a little more expensive in 2018

A new year means new prices, so life in France is going to get a little more expensive in 2018. Here are the fee changes to look out for, and what they mean for your wallet.

Price hikes: How life in France will get a little more expensive in 2018
File photo: Denis Charlet/AFP

Stamps

Fans of snail mail can expect a hefty price increase on stamps, after an already significant price raise in 2017.

Red stamps, used for the one-day ‘prioritaire’ service will see an almost 12 percent increase from 85 to 95 cents, having already risen by 5 cents last year, while the green stamp, for letters usually delivered within two days, will go up from 73 to 80 cents. The Ecopli service, for letters under 250 grams, remains the cheapest but stamps will now cost 78 cents, up from 71.

For green and red stamps, the two pricier domestic options, customers can get a three-cent discount by buying them online.

Gas

Almost every month, gas prices in France see a change, and January 2018 is no exception, with the fees from the main provider Engie on the rise for the fourth month in a row.

As a guide, gas will cost 0.7 percent more for those who only use it for cooking, 1.4 percent who use gas for cooking and hot water, and 2.4 percent in households heated by gas.

 

Petrol and diesel price rises

Bad news for motorists as the price of petrol will rise by 7.6 cents per litre in France and the price of diesel by 3.84 cents. 

Cigarettes

The French government is on track to make cigarettes €10 a packet in three years time, but the price hike will be staggered. In March smokers will have to pay €1.10 extra for a packet of cigarettes. 

Vélib

France’s bike-sharing scheme has moved from JCDecaux to Smovengo, and the change of hands means some changes that will affect its users.

READ MORE: Paris: Here's how the Velib' bike share is set to change

As well as introducing several electric bikes, this also means prices are going up.

Customers will be able to choose between a one- or seven-day pass, for €5 or €15 respectively, or a monthly subscription, with prices starting at €3.10 or €8.30 and additional charges depending on how much you use the service. There’s also a free subscription offer, where users pay a slightly higher rate per minute. Full details of the new fees can be found on the scheme’s website.

You better Velib' it: Cost of renting Paris city bikes could jump in future
Photo: AFP

Parking

2018 brings the end of France’s nationwide €17 fine for those found guilty of parking offences, with the charge being replaced with a ‘post-parking fee’ (SPF), which will be set individually by each municipality.

This fee may not be higher than the rate for the maximum authorized parking period, so it varies considerably across the country, ranging from €10 in Castres to €60 in central Lyon, according to Autoplus.fr.

Drivers in the capital will risk parking fines of €50 in the first 11 arrondissements and €35 in the rest, though there will be a significant reduction — to €35 or €24.50 respectively – for prompt payment.

Banking

On average, bank fees will see a 0.25 percent increase in 2018 compared to last year, with the annual charge an average of € 194.30, according to a study from financial comparison site Panoramabanques. The good news is that this a much more modest increase in fees than in the past two years.

The study from Panorabanques looked at the rates of 158 banks which represent 95 percent of the total market, and found that 99 of them would raise their fees this year — by an average of €4 — while 44 will get cheaper.

Hospital charges

Most standard hospital expenses are covered by France’s social security, except for a flat fee — le forfait hospitalier or hospital copayment — which patients have to pay for each day spent in hospital.

This charge has been fixed at €18 per day since 2010, but goes up to €20 this year. However, the vast majority of the population don’t pay this fee directly, as it is covered by other insurance policies.

And the good news…

Bonus to change old cars

2018 is a good year to get rid of an old vehicle, as France’s ‘scrapping bonus’ paid out to those who get an old car scrapped in order to buy a more environmentally-friendly one, will be extended to many more motorists.

It’s expected to apply to around 100,000 cars each year, a significant increase since only 21,000 vehicles were eligible for the bonus between April 2015 and September 2017. For the first time, non-taxable households will be eligible.

So how does it work? Anyone scrapping a private diesel car or van registered before 2001 (or 2006, for non-taxable households), or a petrol car or van registered before 1997, and replacing it with a less polluting vehicle, will get money towards the purchase.

The bonus is € 2500 for a new electric vehicle, € 1000 for a new rechargeable hybrid vehicle, or €1,000 for a second-hand electric vehicle, which increases to € 2,000 for non-taxable households.

FOOD & DRINK

7 tips to keep your grocery shopping in France affordable

With rising inflation and cost of living, many people in France are desperate to keep their grocery bill low. Here are a few tips for how to avoid paying too much for food, drink and other everyday items.

7 tips to keep your grocery shopping in France affordable

With inflation ticking upward, we’ve seen prices rise, especially for things like fresh vegetables, meat, pasta and cooking oil. Even though inflation is affecting food prices less than energy prices, buying groceries is still a huge part of every household’s budget, and unfortunately things are set to keep getting more pricey. 

We’ve put together a list of a few ways you can save a few euro at the supermarket:

Figure out if you qualify for any government benefits

First things first, it is worth seeing whether you can qualify for any existing government assistance, like CAF. On top of this, the French government has promised to set up a food voucher of €50 per month for low-income households after the parliamentary elections in June. 

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: How to receive CAF payments in France

Compare store prices

Unfortunately, going to the closest supermarket is not always the most economical solution. If you prioritise grocery stores on the lower end of the price spectrum (and you’re willing to walk a bit further) you can save a lot of money. A helpful tool to find the cheapest store near you is the “Que Choisir” online interactive map (click here) that has listed 4,000 affordable stores in mainland France. 

Discount grocery stores, like Lidl and Aldi, are great options for saving a little extra at checkout. But if you must go to a pricier chain, like Monoprix for instance, try to buy Monoprix brand items – they’re typically a little less expensive than name brand foods.

Plan ahead to make the most out of discounts

If you go online ahead of heading to the grocery store, you can see which items will be discounted (“promotion”). If you cannot find this information online, you can always go to the store and ask for a catalogue of that week’s sales items.

Normally, this is something the cashier should have access to. With these discounts in mind, you can construct more affordable recipes. 

Franprix’s website, the ‘discounts’ page

Also, if you’re looking for cheaper recipes in general, you can always go to blogs and online recipe sites specialised in frugal shopping. If you want to try some French specific sites, you can test out “https://www.marmiton.org/” or “https://1repas1euro.com/recettes/

When it comes to discounts though, be careful about conditions involved (particularly when it comes to loyalty cards).

Sometimes these promotions promise a lot, but actually getting your money back might not be as simple as slashing a few cents at the checkout – you might need to send the coupon somewhere to get the discount, or wait for points to accumulate on your card.

That being said, you can optimise your discounts using several online sites that allow you to combine your loyalty cards (Fidme, Fidall, and Stocard). Other online coupon sites include Groupon, which allows you to make grouped purchases (therefore cheaper), and Coupon Network and Shopmium, which help you benefit from existing discounts. For cashback plans, you can look to websites such as Shopmium, iGraal, FidMarques and Quoty, which allow you to be reimbursed for a part of your expenses.

Make a list, set a budget… and stick to it

It might seem obvious, but when you go into the store, try to resist temptation. The best way to do this is to keep track (in real time) how much you are spending.

Some stores make this easier by allowing you to carry around a ‘self-scanner,’ this will help you to watch your bill go up as you shop. Another tip for this is to withdraw the exact amount of cash you expect to need for the essentials of your trip – obviously in order to do this, you’ll need to know the base prices of your essential items, so it will require a bit of planning ahead.

Buy (then freeze) soon-to-expire products

A consumer’s best friend and sure-fire way to decrease waste! Items coming up on their use-by-date tend to be discounted, so if you plan to purchase these foods and then immediately freeze them, you can significantly extend their shelf life.

Lots of supermarkets make this easier for you by dedicating entire shelves to “short shelf life” items that, according to Elodie Toustou, the head of the “Money” section of the magazine 60 Millions de consommateurs, opting for these foods will allow you to “pay three to four times less.”

Another great way to do this is to use applications like “Phénix” and “Too Good to Go.” These applications will allow you to set your geographic parameter and then click on food stores, restaurants, and bakeries in your area that are getting rid of “panniers” (sacks) of soon-to-be-expired foods. Lots of times these panniers cost only a couple euros.

The trick here is to plan ahead by arriving at the start of the allotted time (if the boulangerie on your corner is offering “Too Good To Go” bags from 11am to 2pm, try to get there as close to 11am as possible for the best items).

Re-consider markets and farmer’s stores

Contrary to popular belief, buying from farmers’ markets and grocers that sell predominantly local products actually can save you money, particularly if you are buying the seasonally relevant fruits and vegetables. Buying directly from a producer can also allow you to eliminate the margin taken by intermediaries. But be careful, this rule is not true all the time.

One way to benefit from cheaper prices at markets is to arrive as late as possible, when the merchants have started to pack up their products. This might allow you to benefit from lower prices or even free items, as they’ll be hoping to get rid of their remaining items.

Know what items are most impacted by inflation

Finally, as inflation continues to increase, try your best to monitor which foods are most impacted. If possible, it might be worth removing or limiting them from your diet – or looking for more affordable alternatives.

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