Cost of living: How France compares to the UK on everything from restaurants to cars

How does the cost of living in France compare to the UK? A new survey reveals which side of the English Channel is more expensive on everything from cigarettes and alcohol to furniture, cars and food.

Cost of living: How France compares to the UK on everything from restaurants to cars
Photo: Depositphotos

The cheaper cost of living is one of the reasons cited by many who make the move to France from the UK.

But new data from Eurostat suggests not everything is cheaper this side of the English Channel, in fact some things are more expensive.

Eurostat produced an interactive comparison site so users can get a rough idea of which countries in Europe  and the EEA (Norway, Iceland, Switzerland) are more expensive than others in terms of the consumer costs of various products.

Although the data doesn't give real figures on the average price of products in each country, nor indeed in certain regions of countries, it did reveal some interesting information that may surprise readers.

Share your thoughts with us in the questionnaire below.


Perhaps surprisingly in the area of food, which covered everything from eggs, fish and veg to meat, milk and cheese France was more expensive than the UK. While the average cost of food in France was 16.4 percent above the European average, in the UK it was 7 percent below the European average.

Cigarettes and alcohol

Brits don't flock over to this side of the Channel on day trips for nothing. They come for cigarettes and alcohol, including wine, beer and spirits, because they are cheaper than back home and the stats from Eurostat back that up.

The price of cigs and booze in France is 13.4 percent higher than the European average compared to the UK where prices are 56.7 percent above the European average. So the booze cruises will live on until there's some dramatic change. Brexit perhaps?


Photo: ADT 04/FLickr

Clothing and footwear

Where do you think is more expensive in general for clothes and shoes France or the UK?

According to Eurostat it's France, where prices are 10 percent higher than the European average. In the UK the cost of clothing and footwear for adults and children is 7.3 percent under the UK average.

Do you head back across the Channel to stock up on new clothes?

Housing costs?

Those Britons who have headed across the Channel to buy homes will be the best people to ask about the difference in housing costs, which for the record includes cost of maintenance, repairs, water, gas and electricity supplies as well as rentals.

They might not be surprised by the fact that housing costs in the UK are 56.5 percent higher than the EU average whilst in France the costs are closer to the European average at 13.4 percent above the mark.

Tell us of your own experiences below.

Cars, motorbikes and bicycles

Any Briton who has tried to buy a car in France won't be surprised to hear that the cost of vehicles is lower in the UK – 0.5 percent below the EU average.

That's why many people actually recommend buying a left-hand drive car back in the UK and getting it shipped over, rather than in France where the cost of vehicles is 5.4 percent above the EU average.

READ ALSO: So where is the best place to buy a car in France?

Planes, trains and boats

Confirming what most people would have guessed, France is cheaper than the UK for transport costs. You just have to compare the price of a monthly Navigo pass in Paris (€75 a month for all zones) to the cost of a monthly oyster card in London (£230 for zones 1 to 5) to get some idea of the difference in transport costs between the two countries.

Eurostat finds that the cost of transport in the UK is 26.6 percent above EU average compared to France which 4.8 percent above EU average.

Restaurants, cafes, pubs

The French tend to spend a good part of their lives eating out as do foreigners in France. Indeed the food and social culture is one of reasons many Brits move to France.

But it would be a lot cheaper for them if they lived in the UK where the cost of restaurants, bars and cafes is 7 percent above the European average, unlike in France where costs are 18 percent higher.

But is the quality better in France? Where would you rather dine out? Pubs or terrace cafes?

Other areas

In the area of communications, which include the costs of postal, telephone and internet services, France came in under the European average by 3 percent, the UK was over the average by 9.6 percent.

In the area of house furniture and carpets the two countries were fairly similar with costs in the UK 5.3 percent above the European average and 3.7 percent in France.

For recreation and culture, which includes everything from the cost of newspapers and books to package holidays, France was 8.8 higher than the European average while the UK was 3.4 percent above. But then is France just a more cultural country, where books, newspapers and holidays have more value?

You can CLICK HERE to compare the cost of living in France to other countries around Europe.



Member comments

  1. There’s a typo

    ” In the UK the cost of clothing and footwear for adults and children is 7.3 percent under the UK average.”

  2. Over 40 years ago, when eating out there always was a selection that a vegetarian could happily eat or the chef saw it as a challenge. Over the last few years I’ve found that the menus are very restricted and what is offered as ‘vegetarian’ is pathetic. We usually self cater but eat out when possible and always when travelling. This year experiences were, a barley warmed up slice of frozen quiche, a salad entree followed by a salad topped with three small grilled cheese, having to eat a pizza in one town – it’s France for heavens sake! One week in the Sarlat where every restaurant in the town, even those outside the tourist center, had almost exactly the same menus. And to round it off, although I was tired of omelettes I decided on our last night to have an omelette to make things easier. We could not find one ‘restaurant’ prepared to serve an omelette. This a selection of our experiences. I can only assume that ‘chefs’ now can not produce food without a freezer of prepared food, or they have a severely limited repertoire.
    Before anyone comes out with “it’s your fault for being vegetarian” ask yourself why it was fine over 40 years ago.
    This is a real disappoint as I have been unable to visit France for over 20 years, being in the USA, and have looked forward to being able to visit again and experience the culinary excellence. (So far it’s 10 weeks in the last 30 months.)
    I still enjoy our time in France but bread, cheese and some salad, together with a bottle of wine in our hotel room, is appealing more to me.

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For members


What changes in France in July 2022

Summer's here and the time is right for national celebrations, traffic jams, strikes, Paris beaches, and ... changing the rules for new boilers.

What changes in France in July 2022

Summer holidays

The holiday season in France officially begins on Thursday, July 7th, as this is the date when school’s out for the summer. The weekend immediately after the end of the school year is expected to be a busy one on the roads and the railways as families start heading off on vacation.

READ ALSO 8 things to know about driving in France this summer


But it wouldn’t really be summer in France without a few strikes – airport employees at Paris’ Charles de Gaulle and Orly airports will walk out on July 1st, while SNCF rail staff will strike on July 6th. Meanwhile Ryanair employees at Paris, Marseille and Toulouse airports will strike on yet-to-be-confirmed dates in July.

READ ALSO How strikes and staff shortages will affect summer in France

Parliamentary fireworks?

Prime minister Elisabeth Borne will present the government’s new programme in parliament on July 5th – this is expected to be a tricky day for the Macron government, not only does it not have the parliamentary majority that it needs to pass legislation like the new package of financial aid to help householders deal with the cost-of-living crisis, but opposition parties have indicated that they will table a motion of no confidence against Borne.

Parliament usually breaks for the summer at the end of July, but a special extended session to allow legislation to be passed means that MPs won’t get to go on holiday until at least August 9th. 

Fête nationale

July 14th is a public holiday in France, commemorating the storming of the Bastille which was the symbolic start of the French Revolution. As usual, towns and cities will host parades and fireworks – with the biggest military parade taking place on the Champs-Elysées in Paris – and many stores will remain closed.

As the national holiday falls on a Thursday this year, many French workers will take the opportunity to faire le pont.

Festival season really kicks in

You know summer’s here when France gets festival fever, with events in towns and cities across the country. You can find our pick of the summer celebrations here.

Paris Plages

The capital’s popular urban beaches return on July 9th on the banks of the Seine and beside the Bassin de la Villette in northern Paris, bringing taste of the seaside to the capital with swimming spots, desk chairs, beach games and entertainment.  

Summer sales end 

Summer sales across most of the country end on July 19th – unless you live in Alpes-Maritimes, when they run from July 6th to August 2nd, or the island of Corsica (July 13th to August 9th).

Tour de France

The Tour de France cycle race sets off on July 1st from Copenhagen and finishes up on the Champs-Elysée in Paris on July 24th.

New boilers

From July 1st, 2022, new equipment installed for heating or hot water in residential or professional buildings, must comply with a greenhouse gas emissions ceiling of 300 gCO2eq/KWh PCI. 

That’s a technical way of saying oil or coal-fired boilers can no longer be installed. Nor can any other type of boiler that exceeds the ceiling.

As per a decree published in the Journal Officiel in January, existing appliances can continue to be used, maintained and repaired, but financial aid of up to €11,000 is planned to encourage their replacement. 

Bike helmets

New standards for motorbike helmets come into effect from July 1st. Riders do not need to change their current helmets, but the “ECE 22.05” standard can no longer be issued – and all helmets sold must adhere to a new, more stringent “ECE 22.06” standards from July 2024

New cars

From July 6th new car models must be equipped with a black box that record driving parameters such as speed, acceleration or braking phases, wearing (or not) of a seat belt, indicator use, the force of the collision or engine speed, in case of accidents.

New cars II

From July 1st, the ecological bonus for anyone who buys an electric vehicle drops by €1,000, while rechargeable hybrids will be excluded from the aid system, “which will be reserved for electric vehicles whose CO2 emission rate is less than or equal to 20g/km”.

What’s in a name?

Historically, the French have been quite restrictive on the use of family names – remember the concern over the use of birth names on Covid vaccine documents? – but it becomes easier for an adult to choose to bear the name of his mother, his father, or both by a simple declaration to the civil status. All you have to do is declare your choice by form at the town hall of your home or place of birth.

Eco loans

In concert with the new boiler rules, a zero-interest loan of up to €30,000 to finance energy-saving renovations can be combined with MaPrimeRénov’, a subsidy for financing the same work, under certain conditions, from July 1st.

Rent rules

Non-professional private landlords advertising properties for rent must, from July 1st, include specific information about the property on the ad, including the size of the property in square metres, the area of town in which the property is in, the monthly rent and any supplements, whether the property is in a rent-control area, and the security deposit required. Further information, including the full list of requirements for any ad, is available here.

Perfume ban

More perfumes are to be added to a banned list for products used by children, such as soap-making kits, cosmetic sets, shampoos, or sweet-making games, or toys that have an aroma.

Atranol, chloroatranol (extracts of oak moss containing tannins), and methyl carbonate heptin, which smells like violets, will be banned from July 5th, because of their possible allergenic effects.

Furthermore, 71 new allergenic fragrances – including camphor, menthol, vanilin, eucalyptus spp. leaf oil, rose flower oil, lavendula officinalis, turpentine – will be added to the list of ingredients that must be clearly indicated on a toy or on an attached label.

Ticket resto limits

The increased ticket resto limit ended on June 30th, so from July 1st employees who receive the restaurant vouchers will once again be limited to spending €19 per day in restaurants, cafés and bars. The limit was increased to €38 during the pandemic, when workers were working from home.