Living Costs in Béarn, France

This is the birthplace of a great French king, was the seasonal favorite of royalty of all nations, was once named as “the center of the sporting world,” and was home to the first ever Grand Prix and the Wright Brothers’ flying school. The majestic mountains of the Pyrenees dominate the views and beautiful beaches are just a short drive away…

It all seems too much to believe but the Béarn in the south west of France has it all.

Shopping in the Béarn

Smaller towns have supermarkets and all the general everyday stores. For something special, head to Pau’s Château district or the chic roads such as Henry IV, Joffre, Latapie, and Barthou where you’ll find all the top names in fashion from Chanel to H&N, galleries, and knickknack stores. There are two indoor shopping centers in Pau, and, just to the south east, in Lons-Lescar, is one of Europe’s biggest retail zones. Pretty ugly but everything is there from Home Depot-style to sporting goods stores.

Remember, though, France comes to a halt at lunchtime; noon to 2 p.m. shops are shut, workmen down tools, offices close, but the big supermarkets stay open—a good time to grocery shop as it’s less crowded. Most shops do not open on Sundays, though a few supermarkets have special permits allowing them to open on Sunday morning.

Monthly budget for the Béarn

Note: Figures are based on a three-bedroom house accommodating four people. Monthly cost will be considerably less (minus rent) if you own your own home.

HOA fees US$0 Not Applicable
Property taxes US$44
Transportation US$10 (bus)
Gas US$13
Water US$20
Electricity US$87
Telephone US$48
Internet US$0 Included with phone line
Cable TV US$40
Household help US$160 (3 hours per week)
Food US$800 (for 4 people)
Entertainment US$75 per person
Homeowner's insurance US$23 (home contents)
TOTAL  US$2,520


Additional notes:

Water Approx. US$230 for six months (€3/cubic meter).
Electricity** US$48/summer month up to US$85/winter month
High-speed Internet + cable TV + Phone US$48/month (including local calls and international calls)
Cell phone US$55/month (2 phones with 1 hour free calls to other cells + free calls to 3 chosen numbers)
Health insurance US$456/month (based on family of 4 paying €40 excess and 'out of pocket' doctor/dentist €27 per visit)
Household help: US$13.50 per hour
Extra annual payment for renters/owners:
Tax d'habitation Annual Occupier's Tax – for roads, refuse collection etc. The amount of tax will vary dependant on the decisions of each commune, the size and condition of each property and the household income. (Over 60s may qualify for exemption.) E.g. €530/US$722 for a 3-bed village house.
TV license €121/US$165 (one license per property/year)

Sample "Entertainment" costs

Watching local pro basketball team:
US$13.50 per adult ticket
Visiting local castle: US$6.80 (includes tour in English)
Movie ticket: US$6.15-US$8.25 per person
Swimming: US$3.50-US$5.50 per person
Visit to bee and honey-making museum: US$8.15
Midday restaurant lunch (three-course or two-course + ¼-liter wine): US$13.50
Ten-pin bowling: US$6 per person, per game
Coffee at a café/bar: US$1.50-US$2
Glass of beer in a bar: US$3.50-US$

**Electricity: The main electricity company, EDF, offers a choice of level of power supply. You can upgrade or downgrade between 3KW to 36KW and various levels in between according to the size of your house, the type of heating you use, the number of electrical devices you use, your peak times of consumption etc; the higher your KW rating the higher the standing charge.

Shopping Basket
Prices at Pau's E. Leclerc Supermarket (Prices in US$):

Fresh milk, one liter: US$1.44
Long life (UHT), one liter: US$1.25
Sugar, per kilogram: US$1.84
Beer, 10 x 25cl bottles: US$4.22 (US$3.40 for a 1/2 liter beer in a bar)
Wine, per bottle: From US$3.15
Bottled water, 1.5 liters: US$0.22
Coca Cola, 1.5 liters: US$1.89
Bread, sliced loaf: US$1.21
Fresh baguette: US$0.98
Fresh croissant: US$0.61
Eggs, 20 medium: US$2.45
Yogurt, eight pots: US$1.96
Chicken breast, per kilogram: US$17.75
Turkey breast, per kilogram: US$18.14
Beef US$8.85/kilogram (for stew); US$19.63/kilogram entrecote
Sliced ham, 100 grams: US$1.39
Smoked salmon, 4 slices: US$5.42
Brie, per kilogram: US$6.80
Tomme (local semi-hard cheese), per kilogram: US$15.09
Roquefort cheese, per kilogram: US$20.95
Cornflakes: US$2.31
Muesli: US$3.17
Orange juice, per liter: US$1.02
Nescafe instant coffee, 200 grams: US$5.44
Fresh ground coffee, per kilogram: US$10.67
Cookies, pack of 40: US$0.86
Olive oil, 0.75 liters: US$5.42
Spaghetti, 500 grams: US$0.91
Rice, 500 grams: US$1.43
Apples, per kilogram: US$1.36
Red peppers, per kilogram: US$4.90
Potatoes, per kilogram: US$1.90
Vine-ripened tomatoes, per kilogram: US$6.53
Carrots, per kilogram: US$1.84
Onions, per kilogram: US$3.11
Dog food, four tins: US$2.88
Cat food, one tin: US$1.25

By Lucy Culpepper