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France - Water
Water services are arranged through the Mairie. When you move into your new home you need to phone or go to the Mairie to request that the account for the property is transferred into your name. You will be asked to provide proof of your address. This can be in the form of the ‘attestation de domicile’ given to you by the Mairie, your sales agreement for the property or your tenancy agreement. With some providers you may be asked to pay a deposit, but this amount is deducted from your first bill.
The cost of your water supply can be expensive but the costs differ across the country. If you have a septic tank on your property your water bill can work out to be much cheaper. Meters are common for water supply and these should be located close to the mains valve. If the property is on a water meter then you should ensure that the Mairie arranges for it to be read before you move into your new home. This can also be done by the property management company or you can read the meter yourself.
Water bills in France are sent on an annual basis or every six months and they are sent out by the Mairie. You can make the payment by cash or cheque and in some areas it is possible to pay by direct debit but these payments are not based on actual usage, but on an estimated bill. Your bank will need to provide all the relevant information for the direct debit to be established and you should pass this on to the water company.
In recent years France has seen a number of shortages in the water supply thanks to long periods of dry weather. Restrictions on water usage are normal during the summer months. If you have a property with a swimming pool you can expect to be restricted on how often it can be topped up, you may not be permitted to water your garden and washing cars in some areas is prohibited. You will find out about the restrictions from the mairie or the local press. Those who do not comply with the restrictions face fines and legal action.
On a rare occasion the water supply might be switched off so some homeowners have a back-up tank in the garden, but shut offs are never for very long so this is not essential. Homes in France do not have the internal storage tanks which are common in the UK. During the winter months in areas of France which have harsh winters frozen pipes and bursts are a common problem. All French homeowners who are at risk are advised to have exposed pipe insulated to help prevent this from happening. As there are a large number of second homes in the country, owners are advised to switch off the water supply if they are to be away from the house for any length of time and then turn on all the taps to drain the system completely. This will prevent a freeze and subsequent burst.
The water supply in France is considered to be of good quality so there is no advice about purifying the water. In some areas the water is hard and limescale can be a problem. Water pressure is quite high and it is possible to have a pressure reducer fitted to your meter. This will help to keep your bills to a minimum. Having a pressure reducer fitted is something that can be easily done by a local plumber and it should not cost you too much money. If your water pressure is too high it can damage appliances so this is something that you should look into.
If you should need to call a plumber you should ensure that the plumber is registered and insured and the best way to find a reliable tradesman is to get a personal recommendation.
Generale des Eaux
1 rue d’Astorg
75383 Paris Cedex 08
Tel: 01 58 18 50 00
Tel: 0820 03 02 01
1 Avenue Eugene Freyssinet
78064 St-Quentin-en-Yvelines Cedex
Tel: 01 30 60 22 60
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