For many expats, the dream of retiring to France involves buying a rural or coastal property with more space, warmer weather, and a return to a simpler, more relaxed style of life. But before you make the move, it’s important to consider what life in France for the over-60s is really like. There are many benefits to growing old in France, but also some potential challenges for retirees. Here’s what you need to know.
Living in France as a pensioner
The minimum age for retirement in France is 62, but 65 marks the age at which most pensioners can start receiving other benefits such as senior travel cards and tax cuts. Here’s a run-down of some of the key benefits.
Reduced rates and sometimes free travel cards are offered for French residents over the age of 65. Free Navigo passes are available to over-65s in the Greater Paris area (although there is an income cap to qualify), and provide access to all Metro services, RER trains, trams, and buses. Similar schemes are provided in most regions around the country.
You can also purchase SNCF’s Carte Avantage Sénior+ (€49 per year), which provides 30% off all train fares—a good deal for any regular train travellers. Similarly, Air France and Hop! also offer a reduced-rate card (€49 per year) for over-65s, with 30% off flights to France and Europe—a popular choice for retirees from the UK who make frequent trips to visit family.
Taxes & Benefits
Tax reductions and exemptions are also offered for over-65s in France. For example, the taxe foncière property tax is reduced for over 65s, and over 75s are exempt altogether (providing you don’t exceed the maximum income threshold). Income tax reductions are also available for low-income retirees in France, and you might also get an exemption for paying your TV licence.
Certain benefits may also be available once you reach the age of 65, although all are income dependent. You can see a full list here, but they include the ASPA solidarity allowance, social housing assistance, and financial assistance for home help. If you need assistance or are on a low income, it’s worth contacting the CAF, your French pension provider, and also your local Mairie to find out about the different forms of aid and benefits that you may be entitled to.
Many museums, tourist attractions, and cinemas provide discounted rates for over-65s. You’ll need to present proof of ID (and possibly your Carte de Séjour if the discounts are only available to French residents).
Healthcare for the over-60s in France
France is renowned for having one of the most advanced state healthcare systems in the world, which is undoubtedly a plus point for retirees. One of the most important things for over-60s retiring to France is to register for the state healthcare system – see our guide to Healthcare for Retirees in France for more on this.
Once you are registered, you have access to numerous free services, including annual flu jabs for all over 65s, free mammograms for all over-50s, as well as preventative cancer screenings, thyroid examinations, cardiovascular check-ups, and cholesterol and blood sugar level controls. Not all costs are covered, though, so taking out a Mutuelle top-up insurance is highly recommended.
Retiring to France FAQ
To help prepare you for your retirement, we’ve answered some of the most common questions regarding life in France for the over 60s.
Will my driving licence in France expire over the age of 70?
Many retirees in France will need to exchange their driving licence for a French driving licence in order upon moving to France (read our guide to Getting a French Driving Licence for more on this). However, the good news is that once you have received your French driving licence, it does not expire over the age of 70, and you are not required to take a medical in order to maintain their licence (unless requested to do so for legal or insurance purposes) as is the case in some countries. Read our guide to Your French Driving Licence: Permit Types, Points, & Validity
Language: how important is it to speak French if you retire to France?
If your native language is English and you don’t already have a good level of French, there will undoubtedly be some difficulties when transitioning to life in France. While some expats move to France without learning the language, the more effort you put into learning at least basic French, the easier you will find it to integrate into local life and navigate the many challenges of moving to a different country.
Many cities and regions of France have large expat communities, and these can be invaluable for new arrivals. You may also find many professionals who speak English, from doctors to hairdressers (especially if you live in an area with a large British or American community). However, there is still no escaping the fact that you will need to speak some French and it’s a good idea to book some lessons or join a French group as soon as you arrive in France.
Most importantly, while some official documents are available in English, this is not the norm, and you will be required to understand French to submit your tax return, pay your bills, register for healthcare, make insurance claims, and a whole list of other day-to-day tasks.
What care and home assistance is available for the over-60s in France?
France offers a range of home-help services for over-60s who require assistance with shopping, cleaning, transport, and personal hygiene tasks. If you are on a low income, many of these services are covered via the Allocation Personnalisée d’Autonomie (APA). For those who require full-time care, there are also state-registered public and private care homes known as EHPAD – établissement d’hébergement pour personnes âgées dépendantes.
Read our guide to Preparing for Old Age in France: Care Homes, Home Help, and Benefits.
Retiring to France?
From applying for residency and understanding your pension options, to life in France for the over 60s – FrenchEntrée is here to help! Let our Essential Reading articles guide you through the whole process, then visit our French Tax, Healthcare, Wills & French Inheritance, and Life in France zones for everything else you need to know.