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Go to France, visit the local bank in the area where you want to buy, ask to open an account.

If it is a big city branch you may need to make an appointment, smaller branches seem happy to do it there and then unless they are really busy.

 

You will need (or may be asked to provide):

passport and birth certificate

proof of address in the UK - utility bill less than 3 months old is usually OK.

Marriage certificate if to be openned in joint names

most recent pay slips (if you are employed) - as proof of source of money.

Some euros to open the account - remember it is illegal to carry more than 7500€ in cash (IIRC) and to use 3500€ for a single purchase - which might include money to open an account (not sure on that one).

 

Quick and painless

 

Others may suggest Britline online banking, but I strongly recommend getting a bank local to your property (when you get it).

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I'm not certain you need cash to open the account we just made a transfer when we got back to the UK.

If you transfer money for your house purchase shop around for the best rates. UK high street banks generally give poor exchange rates.

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Do you really need a French bank account before you've bought a property?  We transferred the money to pay for our house from our UK account to the notaire's, went to the notaire to sign the contract, then went into the village and asked to open a bank account.  That way we have our bank about 1 minute from our house.

 

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[quote user="Llantony"]Do you really need a French bank account before you've bought a property?  We transferred the money to pay for our house from our UK account to the notaire's, went to the notaire to sign the contract, then went into the village and asked to open a bank account.  That way we have our bank about 1 minute from our house.[/quote]

Ditto

Chipie

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[quote user="andyh4"]it is illegal to carry more than 7500€ in cash[/quote]Is this true ? I knew about the €3500 thing (although thought it was €3000).

We opened an A/C on our second visit for the final purchase prior to which we used HiFX to transfer €€€€€ to the Notaire. We had deliberately overpaid by about €1000 and used the refund cheque from the Notair as the initial deposit into the A/C.

Because of our poor French we asked around and chose a local bank where we knew there was some English spoken.

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We considered Britline initially but were put off by the pulaver (and expense) of getting certified copies of Passports, address, bankers references etc. and the preposterous list of other documents required. We also heard mixed reports about them but to be fair we heard much the same about most of the French banks.

From the research we did it was apparent that the most important thing was going to be the actual branch you were dealing with irrespective of which bank it was. It was also a very good idea to bank locally to where you live. This is doubly important with CA which is a bit of an odd beast (even by French standards) in that it is not one bank but a loose federation of smaller ones operting almost autonomously in the various areas of the country. Given this structure I'm not at all sure exactly where Britline fit into it. Also, if your French is a bit lacking ask around and choose one where at least some English is spoken.

From another thread on the subject:

"We had a shock recently when wishing to pay a very fat cheque into our nearest branch of Credit Ag, we had moved and so our own branch was in a the Vienne, we were now standing in the Charente, their response you will have to sign the back and post it to your own branch, our systems are not connected.....we were stunned that  they wouldn't grab at the chance to bank it and not only that but they expected us to simply stick it in the post..... This was not some back water branch this was a very large town branch.

I am shocked that CA can not do this very basic function and glad we are moving all of our business to CIO now"

We opened our CA A/C in 20 minutes with nothing more than Passports, copy of our Act de Vent (fresh from the Notaire), 3 month's statements from our UK bank and a Notaires cheque for about €1000 which we had deliberately overpaid on our house price.

As far as our CA A/C is concerned, the bulk of our funds are remaining in UK and we plan to keep just enough in it for the regular bills, plus a contingency, and use our Nationwide cards for ATM cash withdrawls as required.

Ultimately it's a case of "yer pays yer money and taker yer choice".

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Francophil I think you would be best to wait until you have found a house and the Compris has been signed and only then open a bank account local to where your house is.

Banks do not seem to be run the same way as in the UK - i.e. whilst they might have the same name they are regional. Having said that we transferred an account from one region to another and, apart from it taking some time was fairly painless.

We decided that we would open a local account to force us to try to communicate in French - something that opening an account with Britline would not achieve. 'Unfortunately', where we have our account one of the staff speaks good English and seems to want to practice using it, hence we have not been required to try blunder through in French.

The other thing to be aware of are the charges. In the UK the banks are trying to introduce charges. In France you will pay for a bank card, internet access etc.

Paul

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From experience the thing not to do is open an account at an international branch, as its been said in the thread franch banks do not run in the same manner as the uk, its more important to open the account in the branch you want to use, it took monthes to sort our account from BNP Paribas in Paris to our local branch MOH still hasn't got his card. The important thing to remember is that when you set up direct debits you have to provide a rib (either from your cheque book, branch or on-line) its just so much easier if you can pop into your locak branch and get one. Of our two major headaches in our house purchase opening the bank account was one of them, which with hind sight could all have been avoided.
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We went to the local branch of BNP in Bayeux - they have a English

speaking bank manager too. Opened the account there and then - took

letter of recommendation from our English bank, recent utility bill for

our English home, birth and marriage certificates and passports. Our

visa card, cheque book and PINs for cashpoint and online banking

arrived from head office in Lille within a week when we arrived home.

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