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FRANCE EXPLAINED

Filing taxes and finding cheap fuel: 6 essential articles for life in France

From the best websites to know for working in France and the places you should avoid for filling up your car, to the best regional cuisine in the North and South of France and planning your tax dates, here are the six essential articles you need to know for life in France.

Filing taxes and finding cheap fuel: 6 essential articles for life in France
A person eats a choucroute in Strasbourg, France (Photo by PATRICK HERTZOG / AFP)

The French government has loads of different websites for different purposes, and it can be hard to know which are worth keeping track of…and which are actually possible to navigate as an English-speaker.

If you are planning to work in France (or hire someone in France), then you’ll want to keep track of the most useful websites for the various administrative hurdles that will come up. 

We made a list of the best, and easiest to navigate, French government websites that will answer all of your questions from visas to employment contracts. On that list, you’ll find a new website that the French government just updated that consolidates a lot of the different things you used to have to go to several separate websites to find. 

Six official websites to know if you’re planning to work in France

Spring has sprung, and therefore so has tax season!

Taxes can also be an area that is confusing for foreigners living in France. Filling out the forms in French is a bit daunting, and you might be wondering what applies to you, specifically as a foreigner in France. Knowing the deadlines for filing your taxes is an important part of living in France.

As for what is coming up for May and June, you’ll want to mark your calendars for the dates for declaring your revenue. We made an updated list for you.

Income tax declaration in France: The key dates you need to know

After moving to France, many foreigners find it difficult to get French people to just speak to them in French without reverting to English. It is easy to feel stuck, wondering how and where you can practice your French skills.

If you are looking to gain confidence in your listening skills – to avoid those blank-face moments – we asked other readers for their recommendations.

Here is what they recommended for filling your free time with French TV shows, podcasts, and radio channels.

The French TV series, radio shows and podcasts that will boost your language skills

Not a French resident yet, but still looking into buying a car in France? In reality, depending on where you are going, you might not need to have a vehicle.

Still, having a car is an essential for many people living in France, particularly those living out in the countryside. You might be thinking it would be easier to just buy a car in l’Hexagon rather than bringing one here – and you might be right. Doing the process in France will save you the headache of having to get the French equivalents for all the necessary paperwork.

Here are the essential things to know about buying a car in France:

Reader question: Can I buy a car in France if I’m not a resident?

And if you do end up buying that car, you’ll probably be wondering where to find the most affordable fuel in France.

With inflation on the rise, fuel is becoming more expensive throughout France, in some places more than others (you might want to avoid filling up in the Paris region).

There are still some places in the country with relatively affordable fuel, however, and we have made a guide for where to go to avoid breaking the bank at the fuel pump.

Which parts of France have the cheapest fuel prices?

Ah, French cuisine. People might think you can never go wrong with French food, but there are definitely some choices worth prioritising higher than others.

You are probably starting to think about your summer travel plans. If you are looking to eat well while jetting across France, without having to put too much thought into food-planning, then check out our regional guides!

We have come up with a few food and drink guides for you, complete with specific regional recommendations. Here is what to eat and drink in the North and South of France:

French regional cuisine: What to eat and drink in northern France

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PROPERTY

French property hotspots: The coastal areas that buyers are flocking to

The French property market is the busiest it has been for decades, with coastal properties particularly in demand. France-based real estate agent Joanna Leggett shared three of the biggest hotspots for buyers.

French property hotspots: The coastal areas that buyers are flocking to
We haven’t seen anything like it in well over 20 years of selling French property. Our agents are working flat out to field enquiries from both domestic buyers and those from the UK and beyond.

It’s not just us though – the Notaires de France tell us that there have been almost 1.2 m sales across the country in the last 12 months. To put this into context we’d normally expect this figure to be around the 900,000 mark. 

READ ALSO 5 of the most affordable places to buy property in France

So why is French property so popular? 

Well, obviously the sunshine, food and drink, stunning landscapes, and quality of life play a big part. But these are ever-present. What’s really different at the moment is: 

  • a post-pandemic urge to buy country property that is light and airy, with access to outside space and fresh air. 

  • cheap finance – mortgage rates have been at historically low levels (although rising now).  

  • value for money – property prices in Paris, London and other European cities have risen steadily, whilst country property in France has lagged behind. This means it is great value by comparison. 

There has been plenty of research, undertaken since the Covid lockdowns, that shows a clear shift in buyer need.

One report (undertaken by UBS Wealth Management) said that 75 percent of people polled anticipated permanent lifestyle shifts, including less time spent in the office.

READ ALSO How to get rid of squatters from your French property

This anticipation is turning into reality as buyers look for second homes that have a good-sized home office – the most sought-after properties have high speed internet (preferably fibre) and a home office with a view.

Hotspots 

Pretty much all properties on both the Atlantic and Mediterranean coasts are in great demand. However, we have identified three hot-spots where buyers, from both France and overseas, are fighting over the few properties that are coming on to the market. 

Bay de Morlaix in Brittany is the perfect location for a holiday home and is particularly popular with buyers from Paris and the UK. The sandy beaches and sheltered coastline make it perfect for family holidays. 

Morlaix itself is famous for its unique architecture, with pretty, timbered, houses that were built for the wealthy linen traders. Carantec is another popular location, and you will pay an average of €2,500 euros per square metre there, which makes it great value as a holiday-home retreat. 

Second home owners: What can you bring to your French property?

Royan and surrounding resorts in Charente-Maritime are also hugely popular at the moment.

They are close to the airport in La Rochelle which has flights from European cities including London, Manchester, Bristol, and Dublin. The microclimate in this area makes it the second sunniest part of France and the beaches are sandy and safe, with a choice of wonderful seafood restaurants on hand.

The average cost of an apartment in Royan is €3,490 per square metre, move inland to neighbouring Charente and prices are even lower. 

Cote d’Azur – the Mediterranean cost is ever popular, but the Leggett office in Nice is seeing a daily influx of both local and international buyers.

It is best summed up by Dan Norris, who runs our team in the area: “The market is on fire at every price level. It is dominated by local buyers and you need to move quickly. Properties are selling within hours of coming on the market, this is the craziest I have ever seen it“.

Prices are higher of course, with an apartment in Nice costing an average of €4,240 per square metre. Head up into the hills and you get views out over the Mediterranean, but fewer crowds and lower prices. 

Joanna Leggett is Marketing Director of Leggett Immobilier, the leading international estate agency in France, www.leggettfrance.com 

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