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Advice on French Banks

Posted by gillian.crossley-179878 - Created: 13 years ago
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7 replies (Showing replies: 1 to 7)

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Posted by eurokine-190755 - 13 years ago

Something to remember, many banks are regional, so if you have for example, an account in alpes maritimes for the CA and you move to Lyon, you'll have to close your account and open another new one there, or give up anyhope of paying in a cheque at the nearest branch (or cashing one for that matter) if you keep your account here!

As far as I have heard, the BNP, CL, Soc Gen & La Poste are "national " banks and the others are hermetically sealed from one region to another ( right down to not even having the compatible computer software)

Best of luck



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Posted by MikeP-180526 - 13 years ago

I changed to AXA Banque (it was Banque Directe then) about 5 years ago after unsatisfactory experiences (basically lousy service, rude staff, and high charges) with three major French banks.

I only have one regret about changing to AXA - that I didn't do it earlier!  They don't have branches which are only open when it doesn't suit you to go in, or when you can't find parking, or staff who blow smoke over you whilst you are pushed from behind in the so called queue ... or any of the other 'conveniences' of the high street banks.

I have had a few minor niggles which have always been resolved quickly and politely.


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Posted by jivebaby-189615 - 13 years ago

#6 sounds like he knows his stuff.

As an ex-banker I find CA tiresome and expensive (buit this is what banks do!)- They charge for everything, payments, cards etc. However I've never had a problem except like most things I had to return to my branch to unlock a blocked card whose Pin # I had forgotten. Only one member of staff could work the machine to re-set the card.....Never again!

Bqe Populaire...nothing is ever too much trouble, and everything is free and I've never had a problem. Five stars ++

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Posted by me_2003 - 13 years ago

Hi, please try www.axabanque.fr

it is the cheapest and most efficient bank.

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Posted by No.6 - 13 years ago

Interest on current accounts??!  Don't make me laugh! - Vous êtes en France, remember!

If it's really lower everyday banking charges you're after, the newer supermarket and web-based banks are generally cheaper, especially for items like annual Visa card renewal charges. Have a look at Carrefour (www.carrefourfinances.com), Auchan (www.banque-accord.fr) and Axa Banque (www.banquedirecte.fr). Regrettably, I can't include EGG in the above as they have just announced this week that they are pulling out of the French market - how sad. 

Best fixed-rate savings account ('livret épargne' or 'livret bancaire') interest rates may also be found on-line: try Banque Covefi (www.covefi.fr), ING (www.ingdirect.fr), Cortal Consors (www.cortalconsors.fr) and AXA (www.banquedirecte.fr), all of which are currently paying slightly more than the 2.25%p.a. net-of-tax (or even less, in some cases!) paid by most of the big banks' deposit accounts ('Compte sur Livret') and government-controlled savings schemes (Codévi, Livret A, etc.).  Worth noting that ING and Cortal Consors (part of the BNP group, in fact) additionally offer on-line personal investment services which I would find personally more practical that those of some of the major banks. 

Of course, none of the above will give you access to cosy bank branches where you can shelter from the rain and teach the locals how to form an orderly queue, nor friendly chats with banking advisors who will practise their English on you while selling you something from their catalogue. More importantly, if you ever want a bank loan or mortgage in future, you'll need to remember that almost everything in France is still negotiable on a face-to-face basis in that department (including the so-called compulsory mortgage early repayment charges), so it may pay for you to have a good relationship with one of the big  banks. BNP, Société Générale, Caisse d'Epargne, Banque Populaire, La Poste (even!), etc. are all pretty competitive and are very well represented in this area.  But, whilst the big banks all aim to offer you a complete range of financial services (including all types of insurance, investment and retirement planning, for example) and that the one-stop-shop must surely be a convenient commodity for many, they are all much of a muchness in my opinion, probably because the French banking regulations are so restrictive and there is very little room for them to be really creative.  It's difficult to say which is better - equally, I'm sure the friendliness factor is largely a matter of pot luck! 

Personally, I have a number of accounts with the SG and I'm very happy with the fact that they don't charge a cent for their truly excellent Internet banking facilities (BNP do), which I use constantly.  However, I don't visit them often, nor borrow from or save with them or go overdrawn, and I don't subscribe to their Visa card (it's worth remembering that many banking services are in fact optional and that you are allowed to shop elsewhere!), so I don't actually pay them any charges at all. 

Hope this helps - if you need more advice on a particular aspect, e.g. which charges/services you're concerned with most (as we all have different needs and financial habits, after all), I could probably advise some more. If you want to know exactly what and where all the hidden surprise charges are, make sure you ask to see the price list before you sign up ('les tarifs' or 'la tarification'), as they all have one but some are loath to show it - it's that simple, really!

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Posted by KvV - 13 years ago

We're using BPE in Nice (place Grimaldi). They've been very helpful and are very service minded, which is more than you can say about a lot of the other ones. Used to have CL before, and there was no end to what they could come up with. Once even gave use a false bill!KvV

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Posted by Jeanette-191909 - 13 years ago

My advice don't have one - I have an account with a certain bank and they are very rude and do not tell me what they are charging for.Jeanette kirkby