October 4, 2011

10 Ways We Save Money in France

Café Chairs

France can be expensive.
The price of fuel alone makes me want to cry tears of frustration every time I fill up our very economical VW New Beetle.
€1,35 a liter? Seriously?

Fortunately there are some things that don't cost and arm and a leg.

Minervois Vineyards

Here are 10 things that we save money on by living in rural France.

1) Health Care - Yes it costs, but it is nothing compared to what it would cost us in the States. A visit to the doctor is €23 and an X-ray is about €46. And the state picks up 70% of that

2) Wine - Local AOC red or rosé is about €2-4 a liter


3) Three course lunch menus at local restaurants - They average about €13-15, usually with wine. Coffee is extra and cost about €2 more

4) Cheese - Sometimes it might seem un peu cher, but compared to the French cheese prices I saw at Whole Foods last year, I don't feel guilty about satisfying my cravings

5) Internet - I still think that €34 a month, including free calls within Europe and to North America, is a darn good price

Marseille Market

6) Fruit and vegetables - Buy what's in season and you'll get your Five A Day for about a Euro a day

7) Caudalie - While I wouldn't call this range of skincare "inexpensive"...the prices are definitely better here than they are across the pond

8) Bread - Our local boulangerie charges 85 cents for a baguette and €1,15 for une flûte

du Pain

9) Café drinks - Wine, pastis, beer on tap and most coffee drinks are still fairly reasonable, but prepare to pay a premium if you're craving a Coca-Cola or a Gin & Tonic

10) Olive oil - I'm sure this is a regional thing. We live in the south of France and there are olive groves all over the place, so the price of a liter is a bargain

So, I may grit my teeth every time I pay the EDF bill or fill up the car, but I always know that I can eat well, have soft skin, call my friends and family in the States and see the doctor when I need to without breaking the bank.
You can't put a price tag on that.

How Much Do Our Meals Cost?
The Cost of Living in France
10 Reasons I Love Living in France
The Saga of the Broken Arm
Moving to France Tutorial - Joining the French Health System Pin It


MilkJam said...

It's so nice to hear the positive side of things instead of people complaining about how "expensive" France is.

One other thing I find to be really cheap - dry cleaning! a couple of euros for a shirt/light sweater? Sign me up!

Chez Loulou said...

I hear people complaining a lot too. We've definitely changed our lifestyle since moving to France, but it has been in a positive way.
Dry cleaning is much less expensive, I agree!

chcmichel said...

While we haven't found too many 3-course menu's being offered at the restos we wander into at the price you mention, I am always amazed how cheap the drinks in bars, bread and wine is throughout the South of France. Very nice post.

The Celiac Husband said...

Well, we will be testing the waters this winter.

See how live in the Charente Maritime compares to Canada.

One thing for sure, the weather will be easier on the bones.

Mlle Paradis said...

i like french priorities! besides, it's always been my fantasy to walk (not drive!) right across france!

Tuula said...

Very nice round-up...and totally agree with Michel, it's pretty great how cheap the drinks in bars, bread and wine are. But I too cringe at the gas prices - just taking a trip to Nice can break the bank!

Lynn at Southern Fried French said...

Great post, and all true! We've decided that here in the Burgundy countryside, the big things---real estate, cars--are cheaper in France than the US, and the small things--clothes, gas---are more expensive. So overall, a savings. If we can just get that euro down a bit!

An Eye for Detail said...

I'm over here right now and have been hearing from so many new friends just the same thing. They truly feel they have a better quality of life over here for less money, even with the euro price......

Murissa Maurice said...

travelers can use many of these tips as well! Thank you for sharing!
I always head to the local meat and cheese market to pick up some great treats for a special dinner with wine. Much cheaper than going out here in Canada. I also live in a great wine region of Canada so sometimes there are some great and reasonable finds. But nothing like 3 euros for a bottle of wine in Italy.

The Wanderfull Traveler

lisa said...

And those are the things that mean the most.
Love this photograph!

Jodi Henderson said...

This is good info; thanks for sharing. I'd like to live in France for a little while someday so this post helps me have at least some idea of what to expect!

Emm said...

Wow, that internet price is great. And phone included. Oh my. The Caudalie looks interesting -- you can drink grapes and use them in skin care. Clever, the French.

Lost In Cheeseland said...

Really good info! And great caution about Coca-Cola - people lose their heads when they see it can cost anywhere between 4€-6€ in Paris! And yes, the free calling to America has been a life saver!

Kasia Dietz said...

Thanks for highlighting all the financial perks of living in France. Though living outside of Paris is certainly less expensive.

I have yet to order a bottle of Coca-Cola considering it costs the same as a glass of wine, hard to believe! Plus, wine is healthier. ;)

Samantha Vérant said...

I've long given up drinking Coke. It's soooooo much sweeter here– esp. the Diet Coke, which is what I drank stateside. Yes, I prefer wine! It's amazing how good it is...and how little a good bottle costs! Also, veggies and fruits, I think, are much cheaper at the market than at the grocery store. I love market day!

Blu said...

Electricity is much cheaper in France than the UK.

I find fruit and veg expensive, I paid 65 cents for 2 apples.

Dvora said...

Although I'm an American, I live in Spain. So I have been comparing costs here with costs in France (Provence/Avignon) because I plan to move there. Everyone tells me it is much more expensive there, but I haven't found it to be so. My investigation has shown that some things are more and others are less and overall it's about the same. Lucky me that I don't drink Gin & Tonics or it would be more. But I prefer wine!

Virginia said...

What's not to love about a place where wine and fabulous bread are so affordable. France....je t'adore!!!

PS I hope I'm no repeating myself ( but I am most likely) but we have a charming Frenchie restaurant here called Chez Lulu! :)

Virginia said...

And for the record, I had the most expensive drink I've ever had in Paris...a bourbon and Perrier. We wandered into Harry's NY Bar and were told, "Non Madame, we do not serve wine." So down the hatch and get out the euros!

Chez Loulou said...

Glad you enjoyed the post.
I often hear that Provence is more expensive than the Languedoc. One of the best local restos has a lunch for €13,50 that is wonderful!

The Charente Maritime is such a beautiful region! You'll love it!

Mlle Paradis
If you decide to walk across France, let me know and I'll meet you for a drink along the way. :)

Chez Loulou said...

The fuel prices are awful, aren't they? The café/bar prices help make up for it. :)

Here's to getting the Euro down!

An Eye for Detail
Thanks for commenting because I often don't hear that from expat friends, which always amazes me.

Chez Loulou said...

Nothing like a nibbling on local specialties from the market. And we are very spoiled by the wine prices here!

Exactly. :)

Nice to know that I've helped. Thanks for stopping by!

Chez Loulou said...

Yes, grapes are magical! :)

Lost in Cheeseland
Once we had friends visiting and were out at the local bar, sharing a carafe (liter) of wine. When I offered to pay for it they became worried that it was going to be really expensive. The price - €6.

Living outside of Paris means that things are definitely less expensive.
And yes, wine is healthier!

Chez Loulou said...

I remember comparing the price of fruit and vegetables at the supermarket when I was in New Orleans last year. A red bell pepper was $2.50...EACH! I pay about €2,50 for a kilo of red peppers here.

In the autumn I see smaller sized apples in bags that are quite inexpensive. However I don't think that .65 cents isn't so expensive for 2 apples. Not a bad price for a healthy snack.

When we go to Spain, we do find that eating out and some grocery items are less expensive there than in France. But once you're here, you'll learn where to get the bargains.
Good luck with your move!

Chez Loulou said...

Thanks for sharing the Harry's Bar story. OUCH! :)

Delana said...

Even though many things are more expensive here, you hit the nail on the head (although restos are a little more expensive here in Aix en Provence, I think) With the price of health insurance in the states, I can't afford to live there. Here, I can. With a wonderful quality of life...except for all that damned paperwork!

Linda said...

Good post,entirely agree with you. The important things in life here are reasonable, especially the wine! And we can't complain about the weather.

Chez Loulou said...

The paperwork is a pain, and seems to be never ending! But all the good things about France ease that pain.

The weather in the south is lovely, especially this time of year!

emiglia said...

Awesome post! It's nice to remember some of the financial benefits to living here.

Jennifer said...

Every time I buy shampoo I have to remind myself. :) Why is it so expensive???

Sharon T said...

We are in the South of France right now and have already taken advantage of the plats du jour, inexpensive wine, bread and other treats at the daily markets! The gas is expensive, but luckily the car gets really good gas mileage and we've only used a 1/4 tank so far. Loving your apparently unseasonably warm weather!

Jennifer said...

You got very lucky with the weather this year. It has been gorgeous! Enjoy your trip and autumn in the Languedoc!

croquecamille said...

Totally agree about the internet/phone/tv being a bargain. And every time I wince at the cost of a monthly metro card or an RER ticket, I just remind myself how much I'm not spending on gas, insurance, and parking. :)

Jennifer said...

You're definitely saving money by not owning a car!

Fifi Flowers said...

J'adore that first photo... I see it painted by moi!!!

Loulou in France said...

If you paint it, I would love to see the results! I'm sure you would do a beautiful job.