Every spring, the France Buying Guide conducts a price comparison to assess the cost of food and general household items in equivalent French and British supermarkets; in this instance, we have compared France’s Carrefour to the UK’s Tesco.
What is very important to remember here is that shopping in outdoor local markets is incredibly popular in France; practically every town and village has at least a once weekly market and prices are much cheaper here than they are in the supermarket. These markets are not just for food, but also stock clothing, jewellery, household items, car parts and, indeed, most items.
Food in France is not that dissimilar to that in the UK, but you are less likely to find ready meals or processed foods.
Eating out in France is generally cheaper than in the UK – except in the very upmarket restaurants, or those in cities like Paris and Bordeaux. Most restaurants will offer a ‘prix fixe’ menu which is extremely good value – and of course, you will find a huge choice of wine available.
Petrol and diesel are not far off UK prices; household bills, too, are probably roughly the same. The two taxes everyone pays as a property owner here, the taxe d’habitation and the taxe fonciere, equate to the UK’s council tax – and they also include the cost of the TV Licence. They will vary with the amenities of the town or village, as well as the size and type of property: whether it has land or a pool, for example.
Services such as hairdressing, beauty treatments and opticians are excellent and usually cheaper than those in the UK. The French take pride in their appearance, meaning you are likely to find all three of these services in even the smallest of towns and some villages – but clothes can be expensive, especially with the 20% sales tax. However, there are some excellent mail order companies such as La Redoute and 3 Suisses which offer clothes and household items such as bed linen and towels. You can even opt to have them delivered to a nearby local shop so that you have no worry about being in for delivery.
DIY goods, such as paint, will generally be dearer than you are used to, as France has not yet caught up with the UK in terms of ‘Do-it-yourself’! We have noticed however that these are gradually coming down; and more and more folk are interested in doing home renovations.