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FAMILY

A few of the benefits of growing old in France

There are numerous reasons to spend your golden years in France - the good weather and the good living notable among them. But here are a few more benefits to help you grow old gracefully (or not) here.

Two older people sitting on the floor looking out over a body of water
Growing old in France has its benefits. Photo: Katarzyna Grabowska / Unsplash

You might not believe it, given that older people in France have marched to protect their pension rights in recent years – but France looks after its older generations pretty well. Here are a few of the ways…

Health

Annual flu jabs are available for free to over-65s, and mammograms are free for over-50s. Other healthcare benefits are also provided for older residents in France who are in the healthcare system.

Local travel

Local travel authorities routinely offer free or reduced travel for older people. For example,  Greater Paris region residents aged over-65 with an income less than €2,200 per month have been entitled to free Navigo passes, allowing travel on the Metro, RER trains, trams and buses.

You can also demand others give up certain seats so you can sit down.

Meanwhile the Lignes d’Azur bus and tram company in Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur offers a reduced-fare card for over-65s on proof of identity and age. Similar to Paris, those on lower incomes who live in the region are entitled to free travel.

READ ALSO Retiring to France: The things you need to consider

Rail cards

For a €49 annual fee, SNCF’s Carte Avantage Sénior+ gives 30 percent off train fares in both standard and first class – while up to three children aged four to 11 get 60 percent off, if they are travelling with you. If you’re even just a semi-regular rail user it’s worth the price. Details available HERE

Flights

Air France and its budget subsidiary Hop! offer a reduction card for those aged over 65, with up to 30 percent off flights to France and Europe – including the UK. The card costs €49 per year. Details HERE

Leisure and culture

Many towns and cities offer special cards that give reductions on cultural and leisure activities for residents aged 55 and over, and again for those aged 65 and over. 

It’s worth checking, too, if you can get cheap movie tickets or museum entrance. Many cinemas – and museums and art galleries – offer reductions based purely on proof of age.

READ ALSO Bikes, gig tickets and holidays: Seven things the French government might pay for

Taxes

There are various tax reductions and exemptions for older people living in France – especially those on modest incomes. There’s an income tax allowance for over-65s, and a reduction on taxe foncière for homeowners over 65 before an exemption kicks in for those aged 75 and over, depending on income level.

Meanwhile, taxe d’habitation may be on its way out for main residences – but over-60s on modest incomes are exempt, anyway.

You can find more details on the income levels required for exemptions here.

Benefits

Some of the benefits for older people on lower incomes are listed HERE. They include a ‘solidarity’ allowance for those on limited means, assistance with housing costs, home help aid, access to ‘foyer restaurants’ which offer meals at low prices for older residents, and financial assistance to adapt your home to your changing needs.

Further details of the help available to older people living in France can be found on a dedicated government website HERE

TV licence

As a rule of thumb, anyone who has a TV at their property in France must have a TV licence. And, yes, you still need a licence even if you do not watch French TV and only watch DVDs or stream programmes from overseas on a TV.

But there are some exemptions, however, for example over-60s on a low income, widows or widowers on a low income, or people with a registered disability. Find the full details HERE

READ ALSO EXPLAINED: Who has to pay France’s TV licence?

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For members

PROPERTY

What second-home owners need to know about 2023 French property taxes

Autumn in France is property tax season - and for second-home owners there are some important changes to know about this year.

What second-home owners need to know about 2023 French property taxes

Every year in September and October, households in France receive their property tax bills – which have historically included three things; taxe foncière, taxe d’habitation and the redevance audiovisuelle (TV licence).

For main properties, two of these taxes have all-but disappeared, but for second home-owners the situation is a little different.

Taxe d’habitation

This is the tax paid by the householder and it is being gradually phased out in France and most households no longer need to pay it – the exception to this, however, is maisons sécondaire (second homes).

Local councils set the rate for this tax, and in some areas this can include an additional surcharge on taxe d’habitation on second homes.

This usually applies in areas that have a housing shortage, and although the surcharge has existed for several years it has recently been expanded to include new areas.

Taxe foncière

This is the tax paid by the property owner and this remains in place, and in some areas has increased. Some local authorities, faced with the shortfall in overall taxe d’hab funds, have increased surcharges on the tax for second homes, while most local authorities are also increasing taxe foncière charges to offset the drop in revenues.

This tax is calculated based partly on the size and value of the property you own (which is why if you do any major renovations or add a swimming pool you need to tell the tax office) and partly on the tax level decided by your local authority. 

This means that the actual rate varies quite widely between different parts of France, but in some areas it has gone up by 20 percent.

Redevance audiovisuelle

This is the TV licence and this has been scrapped this year – including for second homes – so your bill will no longer have the €138 per household TV charge. 

Waste collection taxes

Some communes, especially in rural areas, also charge a taxe d’enlèvement des ordures ménagères (TEOM) or la redevance d’enlèvement des ordures ménagères (REOM) to cover rubbish collection. These are also payable in the autumn, although dates and amounts vary from commune to commune.

Renovation projects

If your property is what real estate agents refer to as an ‘opportunity for renovation’ you may be exempt from taxe d’habitation if your property is uninhabitable.

This is this is strictly defined in France as meaning a property is unfurnished, is not connected to utility services, and/or needs work costing at least 25 percent of the value of the property to make it habitable.

Other information

The amount of both taxe foncière and taxe d’habitation varies across France, but you should be informed in the sale details of the amount of the taxe foncière, and you can also request to know the amount of the taxe d’habitation when you buy a property. 

READ ALSO Why French homeowners face higher property taxes in 2023

Second homeowners are not eligible for most reductions or exemptions available on taxe foncière, with the exception of over 75s who are on low incomes. Be aware this is not automatic for second homeowners and must be specifically requested by those who are eligible.

Be aware, too, that authorities can charge an additional 10 percent for late payment without good reason – though you may get this removed if you write a polite formal letter asking for a remise gracieuse de la majoration. You can search for model letters on the internet.

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