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Price of fuel at pumps in France passes €2 per litre

The price of fuel at the pumps in France has passed €2 per litre in many areas of the country, driven by market uncertainty following the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Price of fuel at pumps in France passes €2 per litre
Motorists queue for fuel at Harfleur, near Le Havre, western France, on March 5, 2022. (Photo: Jean-Francois Monier / AFP)

According to fuel price comparison site Carbu.com, the average price of unleaded petrol on forecourts across France has risen by more than €0.10 in the past week alone and more than €0.18 in a month; while diesel has jumped nearly €0.20 over the past seven days – and over €0.25 in a month.

Check out this interactive map to find the cheapest fuel in France

For many in rural France, where public transport is poor, running a car is essential and the price hikes have already started to make a painful impact on their wallets.

It is expected that fuel prices will continue to rise as the effects of the war in Ukraine and the EU sanctions become more evident, with some predicting prices at the pump of €2.50 per litre.

In January, Prime Minister Jean Castex announced the government would increase financial help for people who drive for work, with a tax break under a scheme known as the indemnité kilométrique, while a one-off €100 ‘inflation payment’ was announced in October and paid out in December to some 38 million people.

But, with the cost of fuel rising, the government is now considering further measures pending a hoped-for increase in production from other countries. 

The 2018/19 ‘Yellow Vest’ protests began as a complaint at the price of petrol, which at that time was selling for well below €2 a litre.

In his first Presidential election rally, Emmanuel Macron promised ‘quick measures’, and hinted at some of the plans that will come into effect as part of the government’s ‘Economic Resilience Plan’ to offset some of the effects of Russia’s aggression in Ukraine.

READ ALSO Macron tells French ‘I will protect you’ from effects of war in Ukraine

“What we need to improve is the support on fuel,” he told the 200-strong audience at a town hall event in Poissy. “There will be a fuel part [in the resilience plan]. It will be strengthened in line with the mileage allowance. It will be worked around the mileage allowance and inflation allowance.”

Prime minister Jean Castex is expected to announce full details of the plan by ‘mid March’.

Tax cuts, demanded by some, have for now been rejected as ineffective. Taxes currently make up about 60 percent of the forecourt price in France – but reducing them would cost the government hundreds of millions of euros, without making a marked difference. Even a simple €0.01 cut at the pumps would cost the government €0.5 billion, Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire claimed recently.

“It is very costly for a result that French people won’t even notice,” he said.

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LIVING IN FRANCE

MAP: The 20 cheapest French towns and cities to live in

The cost of living is a hot topic in France and across Europe right now - so where are the cheapest places to live?

MAP: The 20 cheapest French towns and cities to live in

At a time when purchasing power has never been so central to French people’s concerns, French daily Le Parisien has compiled a list of towns and cities where your money will go the furthest.

In order to produce this ranking, Le Parisien compiled the average salary in each location and then looked at the price of the average supermarket shop, the cost of transport (fuel as well as public transport), property prices (to buy or rent), property tax rates and the cost of a cinema ticket. 

READ ALSO Food, fuel and transport: Which prices will rise in France in 2023?

And it turns out smaller is better.

Of the 96 towns and cities tested, Niort, in the département of Deux-Sèvres in south west France (population around 60,000) came top,

Laval, in Mayenne (population around 50,000) was third; Saint-Brieuc, in the Brittany département of Côtes-d’Armor (population around 45,000), was 8th, and Rodez, down in the southern département of Aveyron (pop: c 25,000) was 10th.

The 20 most wallet-friendly towns in France are:

  1. Niort
  2. Châteauroux
  3. Laval
  4. Nevers
  5. Belfort
  6. Chaumont
  7. Épinal
  8. Saint-Brieuc
  9. Saint-Étienne
  10. Rodez
  11. Châlons-en-Champagne
  12. Quimper
  13. Arras
  14. Foix
  15. Poitiers
  16. Le Mans
  17. Colmar
  18. Montauban
  19. Bourg-en-Bresse
  20. Nantes

READ ALSO The 20 small towns most popular with house-hunters in France

Niort gains, the study found, in part because it has offered free local public transport since 2017 - a policy that other towns that rank well also implement, including second-placed Châteauroux (Indre), Bourg-en-Bresse (Ain, 24th) and Gap (Hautes-Alpes, 63rd).

For various reasons, including infrastructure, offering free public transport that meets higher levels of demand in larger cities is unviable, the report said. 

In fact, France’s larger cities are noticeably low in Le Parisien’s rankings. Lyon stumbled on to the list in 58th, Paris in 77th, Marseille 84th, and Montpellier 90th. Nantes, coming in 20th, is the only ‘large city’ representative in the top 20.

READ ALSO Wild boar, fast internet and kindly neighbours – why small-town France has the best of all worlds

The report stated that, despite salaries being little higher than average in larger conurbations, people also pay more for shopping, public transport, movie tickets, and housing.

The survey found that, on the whole, your euro goes further in the west of the country - where supermarkets are cheaper, and towns aren’t too congested, while the cost of a tank of fuel is lower, as are - researchers discovered - the more abstract costs, such as insurance, for the same level of service as elsewhere.

READ ALSO OPINION: An inflation ‘tsunami’ is about to hit France

Eastern France, the study found, benefited from relatively cheap property prices - offering more bang for a house-buying buck than the expensive ‘coastal bounce’-affected south or the Ile-de-France region, which orbits the cost-of-living singularity that is Paris.

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