10 Great Money Saving Tips When Living in France

Last updated on February 6th, 2024 at 09:57 am

If you’ve recently settled in France as an immigrant, chances are you’ll have a lot going on right now. There will be fun things like soaking up French culture and making new friends, as well as more practical challenges like learning your job or how taxes work.

There’s also the matter of budget management, which might be particularly important if France has a generally higher cost of living compared to your home country.

Our team here at Remitly put together this list of 10 ways to save money and make living in France on a tight budget doable.

7 Great Money Saving Tips When Living in France

1. Use public transport

You may instinctively feel like you want to own a car in France, but there may be more prudent choices if you watch your budget. A vehicle can come with a hefty price tag and associated costs like fuel and insurance.

Because France has an excellent public transport system, you may not need to cover the costs of your own car.

Let’s take the example of Paris. The iconic French capital boasts a wide-reaching network of transport options, including the Métro, trams, and buses.

You can travel unlimited times using a weekly, monthly, or annual Navigo pass. The advantage of using the annual pass is that you get a month’s worth of free travel. Moreover, if you’re in the Île-de-France region—where Paris is situated—your employer must reimburse at least 50% of your travel pass.

The Citymapper app makes getting around major French cities like Paris, Lyon, and Marseille even easier. The app provides instant guidance on the best routes when you’re getting from point A to point B by using live data. Find out more about Citymapper and other great apps for migrants to France here.

2. Look out for discounts

It’s always worth keeping your eye out for discounts you might be eligible for. For example, passengers over 62 years of age may get a 50% reduction on monthly Navigo public transportation passes in Paris. Students under the age of 26 are also eligible for similar discounts.

You may also get money off the cost of many popular attractions in France. Some may even be free, depending on your circumstances.

Take the Louvre, home of the Mona Lisa and arguably the most famous museum in the world. Visitors under the age of 26, as well as jobseekers and disabled people, won’t have to pay a cent to enter.

If you want to soak up as much of the culture in your new home as possible, consider purchasing city cards or passes. They provide unlimited access to museums, river cruises, and other attractions over some time. As a result, the passes let you save money while you explore a vast range of cities, from Bordeaux to Nantes.

One great example is the Paris Museum Pass. Available in two-day, four-day, and six-day packages, the pass lets you enter any participating monuments and museums for one low price. You can find out more about the pass and purchase one here.

As a general rule of thumb, we always recommend checking online for discounts before going to an attraction or shopping at a new store in France.

3. Use money-saving apps

Some apps, like Citymapper, make day-to-day life easier in France. Others can even save you money when shopping. Take iGraal Market, which you can download from Google Play and the App Store.

Using the app while shopping in major supermarkets like Monoprix and Carrefour can earn you cashback on products purchased. The app also offers regular discounts and rewards more cashback if you play quizzes or watch promo videos.

Another money-saving tip while living in France is to use the interesting money-saving app Mon Avis Le Rend Gratuit, which translates to ‘My Opinion Makes it Free.’

As the name suggests, the app allows you to get free products in exchange for providing feedback through questionnaires. You can select items on the app to claim rewards ranging from chocolates to beer to toiletries.

4. Sign up for loyalty schemes

Using loyalty programs is another great money-saving tip in France to cut your day-to-day expenses. Some of the biggest retailers in France run such incentives.

One example is Monoprix. Its La Carte scheme offers discounts on Monoprix-branded food and household products. It also provides more than 150 exclusive offers every month.

Look out for other similar programs from chains like Intermarché and Carrefour to get the best deals when shopping.

How to Save money in France

5. Visit free attractions

France is known for its natural beauty and eye-catching architecture, and you don’t have to spend money to enjoy yourself. 

While riding to the top of the Eiffel Tower can be pretty pricey, you can enjoy this world-famous landmark from the ground at Parc du Champ-de-Mars. Locals and visitors love to picnic in this historic park while admiring the Eiffel Tower.

Many cultural attractions, such as the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, are free. Nature lovers will want to see the Gorges du Verdon in Provence, the country’s deepest gorge. Or, take a relaxing stroll along the Promenade des Anglais in Nice, the playground of celebrities and royals for generations.

6. Open a French savings account

Numerous banks are available in France, and we look at some of the best options for immigrants here.

Opening a local bank account may be essential for some transactions, like paying rent or receiving a salary. It’s also an easy way to avoid any international fees your current bank may charge.

You should also look into savings accounts from French banks like Crédit Agricole and BNP Paribas. Compare how the savings accounts work and what interest rates are offered. Placing some of your earnings into a good savings account can help you build your financial future in France.

If your annual income falls below a threshold established by the French government, you may qualify for a Livret Epargne Populaire (LEP). These special savings accounts are regulated, so they don’t carry the additional fees that come with some accounts and often pay a higher interest rate.

Depending on your financial situation, the money you deposit in an LEP may not be subject to income tax in the country, making it even cheaper to save money for the future. Visit the official LEP website to learn more about the program.

7. Save money on meals

Food is a necessity, and finding ways to save on the price of it can help you free up some room in your budget and lower your cost of living.

When preparing meals at home, source as many ingredients as you can from local markets that advertise low prices and from larger grocers with loyalty programs. Planning what food you’ll eat for the entire week and comparing prices can make grocery shopping much cheaper.

France is famous for its food scene, so you’ll likely want to dine out occasionally. Although heading to restaurants is generally more expensive than preparing food at home, there are ways to save money while having the fun experience of dining in restaurants.

Here are some tips for making dining out cheaper:

  • Try the prix fixe menu: Many restaurants allow you to buy a complete multi-course meal for a special low price.
  • Watch what you drink: The tap water in Paris and other major cities tends to be tasty, and most restaurants won’t charge you for it as long as you’re also ordering food.
  • Check out hostels: Catering to budget travelers, hostel bars and restaurants often offer great deals on food and drinks.
  • Sign up for TheFork (La Fourchette): This reservation app can get you discounts on restaurant visits. In fact, you may get as much as 50% off your meals when you book a table through the app. You can sign up for it here.

8. Shop around when exchanging currency

If you still have currency from your home country to exchange for cash, shop around to find providers with the best exchange rates and lowest fees. In a major city, third-party services tend to provide the best deals compared to exchange counters at banks and the airport.

Generally, the cheapest and easiest way to get local currency is to withdraw from an ATM. Check with your bank to determine what fees may be associated with this service.

9. Seek advice from locals

One of the best ways to discover how to save money is to get tips from locals. Explore your new neighborhood and visit your neighbors.

Use their knowledge and experience to your advantage by asking them where the cheapest places are to buy the things you need. You’re likely to uncover savings opportunities you otherwise would never learn about.

10. Don’t pay too much for international money transfers

While living in France, one of your priorities may be to send money to loved ones back home. This may be a once-in-a-while thing to mark birthdays or New Year’s celebrations. Or, you may need to provide regular, vital financial support. In either case, you’ll want as much of your money as possible to translate into your home currency.

It can pay to compare your options when it comes to remittances since some routes may be more cost-effective than others. Money transfer companies based online, like Remitly, can be a great alternative to banks and high street outlets. Remitly doesn’t operate expensive physical premises and can therefore afford to offer low fees and very competitive exchange rates.

You can find out more about Remitly by visiting our homepage. Or, simply download the app to try the service for yourself.

Get ready to save money in France

France is a great place to visit and to call home. By remembering these tips on how to save money in France, you can make your budget go further and be able to see and do more while living abroad.

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