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Reader Question: How is my water bill calculated in France?

The Local France
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Reader Question: How is my water bill calculated in France?
A drop of water sinking from a tap. (Photo by LOIC VENANCE / AFP)

Your French water bill could be significantly different from the neighbouring commune, even if you have the same water supplier. Here's how bills are calculated.


If you own property in France (more for renters below), and you trying to understand your water bill, then there are a few things to know.

Water rates in France are set at a commune level, and are decided by the mayor and their municipal council. If you live a short drive away from some friends, you might be surprised to see that their water rate is very different from your own if they live in a different commune.

Some smaller communes opt to set their water rates on an 'inter-commune' basis, however. 


You can see on an interactive map made by the French government just how much rates can vary based on geographical location.

READ MORE: Six things to know about tap water in France

Your bill is made up of two parts; subscription charges and fees and water usage.

The fees are set, but the water usage bill varies according to how much water you have used, and also the water rate per cubic metre for your area.

And it's this rate that your local municipality sets. It includes the cost for drinking water and sewage services and is determined via several factors, like the level of treatment required, the quality and availability of water resources, as well cost estimates made by the public and private organisations involved and their negotiations with local authorities.

This can also help explain why price can differ so much by location. For example, in small village of Courcôme in Charente, south west France, the water rate is set to €2.87 per cubic metre.

It is more expensive in Paris, where the cost is €3.83 per m3, but the Paris eastern suburbs only charge €1.89.

According to Services Eux France, on average, two people consume 329 litres of water per day, ie 120 cubic metres per year. You can use this simulator to estimate how much your yearly water bill would be based on where you live in France. 

Typically, single-family homes in France have their own water metre.

Local authorities have the power to set the rate, and also to change it if they think it is necessary.

For example, recently in the town of Grasse in south-east France, the mayor announced that rates for water would become seasonal - a higher price per cubic metre in the summer and a lower one in the winter. This was part of an effort to decrease water consumption during periods of drought or lower water supply.

Why haven't I received a water bill in France?

If you rent or if you live in a shared building - such as an apartment block - then you may not have seen an individualised water bill.

For renters, this is because the bills go to the property owner - although if you're renting in an apartment block, the cost of water is typically included in your 'charges'. These are the fees associated with building upkeep and management, and they can depend on what type of accommodation you are renting. 


READ MORE: 'Les charges': Why owning and renting apartments in France is becoming more costly

For those who own property in shared buildings, sometimes water expenses are calculated on a general metre for the whole building and sent to the syndic (the building managing agents). Then it is divided amongst the inhabitants and put directly into the charges expenses. 


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