Choosing gas, electricity, and telephone suppliers when moving to France
Connecting your utilities and internet, TV and phone packages in your new French property should be relatively easy, and will help you to feel settled into your new life in France – but it can be challenging to know where to start.
Whatever utilities you are looking to set up, you will be required to provide proof of your identity (such as your passport or residence permit) and your address (such as your rental agreement, receipt or other utility bill). For most utilities you will find that your bill (facture) will be sent every two to three months, and comes in two parts: the standing charge (abonnement), and the charge depending on your consumption of units (relevé). TVA (Value Added Tax) is applied at 20.6% on the standing charge, and 19.5% on the consumption. Local taxes (taxe commune/ département) are added at around 12%, before TVA.
The main electricity suppliers for domestic homes in France is EDF (Electricité de France) which is state owned. If your property does not have an existing supply, then they should be able to connect you for a small fee. This is something that your estate agent should be able to organise for you. If you don’t wish to sign up with EDF, there are alternative energy suppliers available – including some specialist renewable energy suppliers. Your meter should be read every six months, and you are able to do this yourself (providing EDF check the meter at least once a year). Bills can be paid online, by mail, by phone or in person at your local EDF shop. Please note: the online payment form is in French.
Your electricity meter should be read every six months, and you can do this yourself.
You will find that mains gas is usually only available in the larger cities and towns, and will usually be supplied by GDF (Gaz de France). If you are moving to a town where there is a mains gas supply, you will need to make sure that you are connected – and if not, arrange for this to be carried out. The best way to do this is by asking your local mairie (mayor). If your property is in the country and does not have mains gas, you will need to decide whether your gas consumption is going to be great enough to require the installation of a tank, or if you will be able to make do with smaller bottles of propane or butane gas. These portable bottles are readily available at many outlets locally, including petrol stations and garden stores. One important consideration if using bottled gas is where you plan to store the bottles. Butane must be stored indoors, while propane can withstand greater extremes of temperatures and can safely be kept outside in a garden shed.
Water is supplied in France by private companies, depending on the area in which you live. Unlike in the UK, most French properties are on a water meter, and are individually charged according to consumption. Water tends to be more expensive in France than in England, with some areas much more expensive than others. Most properties can be connected to the mains water systems, as long as they are not too isolated, but very rural properties may have to rely on a well for their water. The changing of an account from sellers of a property to buyers is straightforward, with the usual proviso that you need to be sure the meter has been read.
There are many internet providers in France, and the best way to choose the right one for you will be to compare prices based on your personal requirements. The main providers include:
- Alice Adsl
- Darty Box
Around half of the French market is represented by Orange (previously known as Wanadoo), thanks to their strong internet/telephone package.
Around half of the French market is represented by Orange (previously known as Wanadoo), thanks to their strong Internet/telephone package. This includes the option to include an hour’s free call time to foreign land line number (which is obviously incredibly useful to the Brits moving to France). Another popular network provider includes Free, who (unlike Orange, Alice, SFR and Darty) does not have shops. This means that your subscription will be carried out wholly online or by telephone, but they do offer a competitive rate. Most towns and villages are well connected with broadband now; in fact France is the second largest ADSL market in Europe.
Satellite TV is widely available in France, and in some regions of France you should be able to access your favourite UK television programmes by ensuring you have a satellite dish pointed in the right direction, cabled to your TV and with a satellite receiver (known as a digibox). It is worth mentioning though, that since the main British channels switched satellites in 2014, not all areas of France are able to receive the same signal. Your French TV licence is paid as part of your taxe d’habitation bill; this is around €120 a year, so if you do not have a TV in your French home, you should let the tax authorities know so they can deduct the fee. You will be able to obtain a digibox from most supermarkets in France quite cheaply, but it is always a good idea to ensure you enlist the services of a technician to install it, as this can be tricky. The technician will also be able to help you decide which box is the right one for you.
The only operator that can install or reactivate fixed landlines in France is Orange – and even if you choose another operator, they will need to subscribe to rent the phone line from Orange. You can speak to Orange’s English speaking customer service helpline to discuss every aspect of this installation, but you will generally need to visit a branch of the provider along with proof of address and identity.
Assistance in setting up activities will often be offered as part of after-care services from a good estate agent.
The France Buying Guide walks you step-by-step through each stage of the property buying process in France, with practical recommendations from our experts who have been through the process themselves. The guide will help you to: