euro, and ways to transfer money
1 € (Euro) was the equivalent of about
65p, but is more like parity with the £ now (2009)). 100 € is about £90.
Euro notes are in denominations of 5,
10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 500 (this last is worth more than £450!).
Euro coins are in 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50 cents; and 1 and 2 euros.
The French franc is now no longer
accepted in shops or banks
to transfer funds
I can only speak for our own limited
experience here - and if anyone wants to add useful information to this
section then I'd love to hear from you!
To pay some specific, large bill - to a
builder, say, or even to purchase your property in the first place - you can
either make a transfer direct to your creditor's bank account (though check
that his bank won't make extortionate charges to receive the funds) or ask
your UK bank for a banker's draft in euros. It's a cheque in euros,
made out by the bank to the person you are having to pay, as opposed to a
To cover running costs of your property,
you will probably need to make regular transfers to top up your French bank
account. It is illegal to be overdrawn in France, and if an account-holder
should go into the red he can be forbidden to have a bank account for several
years. So you won’t want to risk your reserves running low while utility
companies may be taking their direct debit payments from it each month…
Our UK bank arranges the transfers with
very little hassle. You need to have at your fingertips the “IBAN” number,
which is the string of figures that identifies your French bank, branch, and
account. All this information should be printed on your French bank
statement, so take a copy of that along to your UK bank when you are asking
them to make any transfer.
In the Charges box, I tick "All
charges to be paid by the remitter", which means that we pay all the
costs of the transfer at the UK end, and the French bank adds nothing else
on. In February 2005 the charges on a £2,000 transfer totalled £22.46 (£20 to
the bank, and £ 2.46 for agent). The charges fluctuate according to how much
money you send over. It seems to take between two and five working days for
the money to reach the French account - even in the age of electronic
transfers - so don't leave it to the last minute to top up your account.
I think that there is a top limit of £2,000 that can be sent in this way.
Enquire before sending larger amounts.
March 2006: I sent £1,000 to the French bank account very urgently,
which cost £20 instead of the £10 it would normally have cost to send this
amount. Brilliant service though. I sent it on a Wednesday from the UK, and
it was in the French account before lunchtime the next day!
It doesn't seem to be worth opening a UK
account in euros, and drawing cheques on that with which to pay for services
in France. The banks make a hefty charge on euro cheques between different
countries - yes, you would have thought that the whole point of the euro was
that it was a common currency - so forget that idea.
Chris Skerry shares his thoughts on
another system for transferring money:
If you need to transfer small or large sums of money to and from France, you
may find Currency Fair (CF) of interest. It works by matching people
who want to buy a foreign currency with those who want to sell it. For
example, if I want transfer £1,000 into euros, I will be matched by someone
who has euros and wants to buy my £1,000. CF has client bank accounts
in all the major countries, so I would pay my £1,000 in to the London account
and when my demand was matched I could withdraw my euros from the Paris
account. If you want to transfer a large amount, you may find it is
matched by two or more people; you may also find that you get a partial
match, and to transfer the balance you have to lower the rate a little or
wait till it gets better.
I have used the service over the past year and found it excellent. The
response to emails and phone calls is fast and efficient, and I have achieved
slightly below and slightly above the interbank rate in my transfers.
Currency Fair is subject to the same financial controls as all the
other currency exchange services. Client’s money is held in special
accounts which the banks safeguard.
If you want to use it you will need bank accounts for both currencies.
You have to set up your CF accounts in advance. Suppose you want
to transfer pounds sterling to euros, you need to put the sterling into your
CF account by BACS or CHAPS transfer. Next you need to choose an
exchange rate. Currency Fair will give you a rate which is currently
active, and your exchange may go through quickly. Alternatively you
could ask for slightly better than the current rate and wait. You
sterling will sit in the account (without earning interest) until the rate
rises enough for a match. When the transfer has been matched, you will
then need to move the euros from your CF account to your bank. Today
(August 2011) they take a 3 euro commission fee on any amount that you
transfer. On a Friday evening all transfers are cancelled and they have
to be re-input on the following Monday morning. This gives the
advantage that if some major currency changing event happens over the weekend
you are protected, however if the event would have been very much in your
favour you have to hope things are much the same on Monday morning.
So the advantages are that you can get a very good rate of exchange and pay
little commission. If you like being in control, you can manage the
whole process in some detail. If you just want a transfer done
reasonably quickly and do not care much about the rate then CF is not for
you. Also if you want a fast transfer, CF is not as quick as an
instruction to your bank.
If you are interested, you could try with a small amount, this is how I
started. The website is www.currencyfair.com <http://www.currencyfair.com>
. Another site which gives the movement of the euro or other currencies
is www.ex.com <http://www.xe.com>
. You can set it to show a graph of your chosen currency at 10
I have no connection with CF other than as a customer. I have found it
to be good, so I hope you will allow me to give praise where it is due.
There is a new route to Nantes from London City airport with CityJet, a
subsidiary of Air France.
EASYJET is operating flights from London Gatwick to
Nantes for six weeks in late July and August.
Ryanair routes to Nantes have now been
reduced to just Dublin-Nantes. There are also flights from London Stansted to La Rochelle
and to Poitiers
(handy for people intending to visit the south or east of the Vendée).
TIP You can sign up on the Ryanair site, so that you are alerted by email
when there are special offers of very cheap – or even free –
flights. These usually have to be booked within a couple of days, so you need
to act fast…
FlyBe has also been adding new routes to
its list. Latest ones include Manchester, Southampton or Birmingham to La Rochelle. They also operate
flights to Bordeaux
(not that far from the south Vendee) from Bristol, Southampton and Norwich.
BMI has direct flights to Bordeaux (less than two hours’ drive from the South
Vendée) from Manchester
(daily April-Sept), and also slightly less frequently from Nottingham
AerArran has routes to Nantes,
from Manchester and from Cork.
There are also flights to Lorient, in southern Brittany, which could be handy for the
north-west Vendée. These are from Cardiff, Cork, Waterford, Galway and Kerry.
THANKS TO MIKE WALTERS
FOR THIS INFORMATION
Click here for a link to Nantes
Click here for a
link to La Rochelle airport
If you find a good deal on flights to Paris from your area, don’t forget that
you can pick up the Lille-Nantes TGV at Roissy (the railway station
for Paris/Charles-de-Gaulle airport).
All the airports offer car hire (even tiny Rochefort, to which Ryanair was flying while
the La Rochelle runway was out of service in 2005). Usually there are at
least Hertz and Europcar; at Nantes several more companies too. In the past,
I have found the best deals by using the CarHire4Less website, which sifts
through Hertz, Alamo, Budget, Europcar, Avis etc to find the best deal for
your category. A correspondent mentions HolidayAutos as offering excellent
deals (it seems to be part of lastminute.com). Another correspondent recommends Car hire on-line http://www.carhire-online.co.uk/#Car
hire company for "great service and excellent prices".
TIP 1 The airline companies
sometimes say you can rent a vehicle through them at a discount but, before
taking that up, its worth checking with the above websites, as you often find
that through these even the companies like Hertz can work out cheaper than
the airline’s offer.
TIP 2 try and fill the car up
with petrol/diesel just before delivering it back. You are bound to find it
at a cheaper price per litre at a supermarket pump than that which will be
charged to you by the car-hire company.
If you take the Eurostar service from
London-St Pancras to Lille-Europe, you can simply change platforms at
Lille and pick up a TGV connection for the 3.5-hour journey to Nantes, where
you can hire a car, or change to a local train for the last leg of your
journey on the Challans/St-Gilles line; Montaigu/La Roche-sur-Yon/Les Sables,
or Luçon/Fontenay. Travelling on this route, you can leave St Pancras at
around 0830 and arrive in Nantes around 1630 local time. Book at least a week
ahead to get the best deals.
If you would prefer to travel via Paris, SNCF
also runs TGV services to Nantes/ La Roche-sur-Yon/Les Sables-d’Olonne from
Paris-Montparnasse (though if you've arrived in the capital by Eurostar, at
the Gare du Nord, you'll have to allow time to cross the city to Montparnasse
station, towards the south-west side of town).
For most of these services, you need to book a week or two ahead to get the
best deals; count on about £120 return London-Nantes.
TIP Age is an issue on TGV
trains in France! If you are over 60 you automatically qualify for a reduction
of about 25% on request.
If you are going to do a lot of train travel in France, it’s worth buying a
“Carte Senior” for the equivalent of about £30-£40 as it gives you 50% off
most off-peak TGV and local train fares – though not on Eurostar
It's easy to arrange car hire from
railway stations (at Nantes railway station, the car-hire companies are at
exit (sortie sud)).
La Roche-sur-Yon has a branch of Hertz near the station
There are excellent deals to be found through HolidayAutos ; just type in the
place you want to collect a vehicle, and the size of vehicle you want, and
they do a comparison of the different major companies; then you can book
online. NB if you choose Alamo (a US company), you pick your car up from the
office of one of the big French companies - Citer, I think.
TIP try and fill the car up
with petrol/diesel just before delivering it back. You are bound to find it
at a cheaper price per litre at a supermarket than that which will be charged
to you by the car-hire company.
Ferryoffers web site shows cheap
Channel crossings, mostly on the short-sea routes (i.e. from Dover,
Folkestone or Newhaven). If you don't mind a longer drive in France (about 8
hours to the Vendée from Calais), then there are often some bargains to be
had - but double-check to make sure, before booking, as I have hears of
people who found they could have had cheaper by going direct to the ferry
Companies operating ships on the short sea crossings
include P&O & SeaFrance to Calais; NorfolkLine to Dunkerque often the
best-value). And of course the slick Eurotunnel service from Folkestone to
TIP There are sometimes special deals on offer to frequent travellers
around Christmas, for the following year. In 2004 I paid £390 for five return
trips (or 10 single journeys) with Eurotunnel during a calendar year –
you can fix the actual travel dates later on - which compared very favourably
with their usual high prices.
If you want to make savings on the Western routes
(i.e. from Portsmouth or Plymouth), which are continuing to spiral upwards in
cost, then there are a couple of possibilities:
Property Owners' Club Annual subscription
of £45, gives 33 per cent off most crossings, 10 per cent off meals in
restaurant, half-price cabins on certain day crossings, and free breakfast to
those booking overnight cabin accommodation, plus three guest vouchers for
savings of 15 per cent, for use by friends. You can also join if you are a
They sail to Roscoff, St-Malo, Cherbourg and Caen.
Allows shareholders who hold at least £600 nominal of P&O Concessionary
Stock by 31 December to qualify for discounts the following year of 50 per
cent off Dover-Calais crossings. Holders of £300-£599 of the stock receive
half-concessions. They also operate a frequent-travellers' club, so you can
get some discount even if you are not a shareholder.
Neither company gives discounts on overnight cabin accommodation.
Condor, newer on the scene, has a Frequent Traveller Club that offers members
a 20% discount on all travel between UK, Channel Islands and the French port
of St-Malo. Journeys by fast craft from Poole to St-Malo, via either Jersey
or Guernsey (depending on day of the week), take a total of 4.5 hours.
If you are navigating on old maps, you will be
mystified by the many new bypasses, roundabouts, dual carriageways and even
motorways that are speeding up road travel not only within the Vendée but
throughout France. Not to
mention the fact that many motorway exit numbers have been changed.
It really is false economy not to invest in a new map each year, as you can
waste a lot of time and temper otherwise.
The final section of the A83 Nantes-Niort motorway,
linking Oulmes and Niort - and thence Poitiers or Bordeaux - is now complete.
The A87 now runs all the way from Angers to La Roche-sur-Yon, intersecting
with the A83 just near Les Essarts.
Here is a site for general French
motorway information; with a page for looking up the various
tolls. To locate somewhere specific, or to work out a good route from
point A to point B, try the excellent French site http://www.mappy.fr/
TIP A UK credit card can be used instead of cash at motorway péage
points. You just hand it in to the operator, who swipes it and gives it you
back, without any need for you to sign or put in a PIN.
If you are going to spend a lot of time in France,
and be doing a good deal of motorway driving – especially if you are on
your own in a right-hand-drive car – you might want to invest in an automatic
payment device. The added bonus of “télépéage”, as it is called, is that with
this box fixed to your windscreen you can sail through the “automatic” péage
channel, marked with a “t”, instead of having to queue with the others, and
the toll is automatically deducted from your UK credit card. (It’s a bit of a
cliffhanger, though, as the “beep” doesn’t sound until the nose of your car
is practically touching the barrier!)
I have to admit that heavy traffic is not an issue on the Vendee motorways,
but it can be in Northern France and on other motorways like the
Paris-Bordeaux one, or Paris-Lyon.
The Liber-t “badge”
is available through the Sanef
website; you have to pay 30 euros for it (which is allegedly refunded if
and when you return the badge), plus 2 euros for each month that you use it
(i.e. if you don’t travel on a French motorway for the whole of March and
April, you won’t have to pay the 2x2E for those months). Plus, of course, you
pay the motorway tolls themselves, which are debited to your UK credit card.
It works throughout the whole network of France’s motorways.
In 2005 I signed up for the whole thing through the Sanef website, by UK
credit card, and the gadget arrived at my UK address within a week. (The site is resolutely French
though, so non-French speakers may find it hard to use.) It’s as well to keep
the silver bubblewrap packaging, as apparently that protects the badge from
inadvertently clocking up payments at times when you don’t have it on the
windscreen (i.e. if it was in your glovebox, and you were paying your tolls
by some other method!). NOTE: WHEN YOU ARE ISSUED WITH A NEW CREDIT CARD, AS
HAPPENS REGULARLY EVERY FEW YEARS, YOU
MUST REMEMBER TO TELL SANEF, OTHERWISE YOUR TOLL BEEPER WILL NO LONGER
You can use it in another car – though as you would have stuck the holder
to your first car, you will have to just hold the “badge” up near the top of the
windscreen of the second car as you approach the péage. The tolls still of
course get debited to the card that you registered.
Don’t forget that the badge could be a target for thieves if left on the windscreen in
your absence. They could pinch it, and then merrily scoot about France’s
motorways clocking up debits on your credit card…
2004 saw the opening of the (mostly) dual
carriageway between La Roche-sur-Yon and Les Sables-d’Olonne, the completion
of the Challans northern bypass and the opening of half of the Aizenay bypass
(south of the town) on the D948.
There’s also a bypass to the north of La Roche that joins the
Bournezeau/Chaize-le-Vicomte road with the Nantes and Noirmoutier roads. (I
am hopeless at finding it, myself, but will give better instructions when I
The A87 La Roche-to-Angers motorway is now complete.
There are plans for bypasses of Pouzauges and other
towns; and for a controversial future bypass of Talmont-St-Hilaire. In the
longer term, a motorway linking Fontenay-le-Comte and La Rochelle is under
In its scheme for the désenclavement, or opening up, of the
Vendée, the county council has decreed that no commune shall be located more
than 20 minutes from a motorway or dual carriageway. A mixed blessing...
There are several salerooms (salles des ventes, or hôtel des
ventes) in the Vendée that hold regular auctions (ventes aux enchères) of furniture and
effects. I have to admit that I have never purchased at one, but I have
friends that have furnished their house almost entirely with bargains picked
up at Fontenay-le-Comte.
Like notaires, the auctioneer (commissaire-priseur) in France has the title
FONTENAY LE COMTE
17, boulevard Chail (tel: 02 51 69 04 10)
Sales, Mon (viewing Sat)
4 bis, rue Beauséjour (tel: 02 51 21 25 65).
Sales, Sat 2.30pm (viewing Fri 3-5pm;
If you're selling, the place is open to drop off furniture Mon, Tues, Thurs,
CAR-BOOT SALES (Vide-greniers)
Car-boot sales are gaining in popularity –
though they are not at all on the scale that they are in the UK. Nor do they happen as regularly, such
as every Sunday. On the whole, they take place in the summer; a village might
hold its own once a year.
If you want to locate the nearest one to you, try the vide-greniers
website. You can select a particular month from the drop-down menu;
everything with a green dot by it is a car-boot sale; those with a red blob
are antiques/brocante fairs.
If you click on the individual event in the list, you can usually see how
many stands there will be, and how much they cost. Also there is the phone
number of the organiser.
The site is for vide-greniers
throughout France, so if you fancy trying another département - such as
the nearby ones of Loire-Atlantique (44), Maine-et-Loire (49), Vienne (86),
or Charente-Maritime (17) you will get an even wider selection
1. Local taxes
If you are renting out a gite or running a B&B you are supposed to inform
your local Mairie who will probably want to charge a "taxe de séjour",
a sort of poll tax, for each paying guest. (For the year 2001, our village
charged 1F10 for each adult, and 0F 55 for each child per night - but
only for July and August.)
2. French tax liability
Rental from a French property has to be
declared in France, even if you are permanently resident in the UK. Then you
can tell the UK tax inspector that this has been done, and because of the
"double taxation agreement" between France and the UK countries you
should not be taxed a second time. For our experiences in this, see below:
I am not a financial expert and am not setting myself up as an authority
here, merely telling you what we, as non-residents in France, have done in
the way of paying French taxes after reading an interesting series of
articles in French Property News.
I can take no responsibility for these details being correct or appropriate
in your own case.
IF IN DOUBT, SEEK PROFESSIONAL ADVICE.
The French system
seems very simple. You tell them the gross amount of your year's rental. They
halve the total amount (to allow for your running costs and expenses), and
then charge you 25 per cent of the remainder as tax. If this final amount
comes to less that 2,000F (not sure what this will be now it's all in euro)
then they deem your liability to be Nil. (But you have to fill up the form
THIS INFORMATION IS
SUBJECT TO CHANGE.
I SHALL NOT PERSONALLY BE DECLARING ANY RENTAL INCOME AFTER 2002, SO WILL BE
UP TO DATE WITH THE PRECISE DETAILS OF THE FORMS ETC AFTER THAT.
(1) Write in the first
instance to the
Centre des Impôts des Non-Résidents,
9 rue d'Uzès,
TSA 39203 75094 PARIS CEDEX 02
Tél: 01 44 76 18 00 (+33 1 44 76 18 00)
Information line: 01 44 76 19 00 (+33 1 44 76 19 00)
Fax: 01 44 76 19 90 +33 1 44 76 19 90)
E-mail : email@example.com
in about January,
asking for form 2042, "Déclaration des Revenus", and 2042C
"Déclaration Complémentaire des Revenus". (If you are already in
the system - i.e. have declared in previous years - then you should just
receive the forms automatically in early March.)
You can also download the forms from a government
website, though it takes some ferreting to find the right ones. Hopefully
link should take you to the page where those who let a French holiday
home, but who are not fiscally resident in France can look for :
”N° Imprimé :
2041-ECVO (N° C.E.R.F.A : )
2005 - Impôt sur le revenu
Descriptif du formulaire - Lettre d'information destinée aux contribuables
non résidents (Royaume-Uni, Belgique, Canada, Espagne, Etats-Unis, Italie,
From the drop-down
menu you can select the leaflet 2041 ECVO RU (Royaume-Uni = United Kingdom),
or whatever is appropriate if you live elsewhere.
This PDF document, all in French, tells you what form you need (2042 usually)
and what tax you will be liable for.
(2) You receive (or print out) two copies of the form (fill in both, send one
off and keep one for your records; if you have printed them off yourself,
print two copies of each and then retain one for your records).
(a) You fill in the front page, and date and sign it at the bottom . NB if
the wife is declaring the rental income as hers, the form still has to
be filled in with the husband's details, plus those of the wife, and
you both have to sign it at the bottom.
(b) If you are just declaring rental income and are resident outside France,
you tick a box to the left of the signature box if you are declaring some
income on form 2042C. (If you are resident in France, or if you have other
French income to declare, I cannot advise you I'm afraid!)
(c) You tick a box on page 2, to say whether you are married, divorced, widowed
(3) On form 2042C you
fill in the gross rental received in euro in a box - on the 2001 form it was
on page 2, C, box NO (if the husband was declaring it), or box OO (if the
wife was declaring it), but the box references can vary from year to year. If
in doubt, you can email or phone the tax office in Paris (see above), who are
If you have been charging people in sterling, then you need to contact the
tax office to ask what their official exchange rate - the Taux d'Echange
Officiel - is for the year in question, and then do the conversion into euro.
Send the completed forms to the Centre des Impôts des Non-Résidents (see 1
above), by 30 April of the year following the rental period (i.e. 30 April
2002 for 2001 rentals).
(4) Some months later
you will receive a bill. After the first year's declaration, you will receive
a quarterly bill that is an estimation for the coming year (as yet
undeclared) based on your previous year's income. You have to pay these as
they come in, otherwise the tax office can add penalty payments.
The above method of taxing the second year exactly
the same as the previous year can look rather confusing. In May 2001 I was
reluctant to make payment of about 1,000F in connection with property rental
(for an unspecified period), thinking: "Funny, we have already paid
exactly that amount in February 2001..."
However, a rather more figure-savvy friend eventually worked out that these
were two instalments of payment on earnings in the 2001 season which the
French tax authorities had based upon the previous year's income, and thus
they had to be paid.
NO HOUSE YET?
Here are a few people who can help smooth the path to becoming a French property
Property in France is a helpful resource that outlines how to find and
purchase a property in France. It also has a currency calculator app
available on the site, useful for those travelling anywhere abroad.
For the demystifying of French mortgages, look at
page of the Best French Mortgages website. Click on the “Glossary” tab, too, for an extensive list of
expressions used in house-buying, legal and financial situations.
Here are some pages for the notaires' office in
Challans, where you can also find some properties for sale. Farther east,
the Pouzauges office of Pierre-et-Terre
Immobilier has been recommended by a reader, as has an agent in the Chantonnay/Pouzauges area
(click on "country properties for sale" and then on picture of
house required, to see further details).
Click here for a list of notaires in
the area - they deal with selling property as much as estate agents do.
Or order a copy of the monthly UK-based paper French
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