Are you planning to move to Lassay-les-Châteaux? What is it like to live in France?
In this Expat Interview, Faith Coates shares her experience and practical tips for newcomers.
You’ll learn useful information to prepare for your new life in Lassay-les-Châteaux, such as the cost of living in Lassay-les-Châteaux, how to find apartments, and other practical tips.
What is it like to live in Lassay-les-Châteaux, France?
I moved to Lassay-les-Châteaux in the Mayenne, France, two years ago. I came here to housesit during the pandemic, and sort of got stuck and stayed.
With about 3,000 inhabitants, this little village is located below Normandy and beside Brittany and within a 2-hour train ride from Paris, although there is no train station in the village.
Lassay-les-Châteaux is one of the charming Petites Cités de Caractère in France, with a history dating back to the Middle Ages and three chateaux to visit.
The village itself has all the amenities you require, from pharmacies to health centers, coffee shops, variety stores, pizza and kebab shops, real estate agents, and a weekly market on Wednesday mornings.
In Lassay and the surrounding areas, there are a number of English-speaking expats, and we have started an English/French exchange group to improve our language skills and be able to communicate better.
What should people know before moving to France?
You absolutely need to speak French. Otherwise, you will never fit into the community.
On top of that, there is no customer service here. Shops close between 12 and 2, so the French can take lunch. It is almost impossible to return any item purchased in a shop.
You must say Bonjour upon entering a shop. Otherwise, you will be ignored, and you must say Bonne Journee and Au Revoir upon leaving – good manners are everything here.
How to prepare for moving to Lassay-les-Châteaux, France?
We have Irish passports, so it is relatively easy to move to France.
If you have non-EU passports, you have to apply for a Visa and meet the financial requirements to be able to support yourself in France.
Before moving to Lassay, you should learn French and have a good car as there is no public transportation.
You must take out private health care for at least three months before being accepted into the healthcare system, but it guaranteed you would need it for at least a year. It will cost around €75 per person.
- Moving tips: Relocating abroad? Try Sirelo for free quotes from top international movers that fit your budget. Learn more here.
- Money transfer: I use Wise for my international transfers. Quick, secure, and their fees? Way lower than most banks I’ve tried!
- Expat insurance: Life abroad has its surprises; make sure you’re covered with expat insurance.
The cost of living in Lassay-les-Châteaux, France
|Rental price (one-bedroom flat)
|Heating and electric
|€260 average per month for all electrics, inc. heating, tumble dryer, washer, fridge & freezer, induction stove, oven, etc.
|€198 per year
|€41 per month for fiber
|Prepaid cell phone plan
|€25 per month
|€400 per month for 2
|€45 per month car insurance
|€65 per month
|Average meal/ person
|€150 per year
|€300 per year
|Average around €1800 per month
What salary do you need to live in Lassay-les-Châteaux?
For a comfortable life (with going out sometimes, activities), you need at least 2.500 Euros for two people.
How to find apartments in Lassay-les-Châteaux?
Apartments and houses to rent are best found either through the Mairie (city hall), who have a list, or real estate agents.
Do not expect great websites with lovely photos or a central location to find places it does not exist in rural France.
Practical information about living in Lassay-les-Châteaux, France
In France, you can use 112 for ALL emergencies.
This number was put into place in the European Union to ensure travelers could reach emergency services quickly without having to memorize a new phone number.
Some countries only use the 112 number now; others keep their old numbers in parallel.
Supermarkets in Lassay-les-Châteaux
To be honest, in the small villages around here, the food available is very limited and almost completely seasonal.
For example, trying to find scallions (Spring onions) is almost impossible outside of the spring season.
We also find we have to travel around half an hour to the larger grocery chains to find decent fresh produce at our local grocery store. Much of the produce is old and inedible.
We believe this is because most French people have their own plots of land on which they grow all the vegetables they need, so there is no demand for vegetables out of season.
There are many large supermarkets, including HyperU, LeClerc, and Supermarche, all within a 30-minute drive of Lassay and a local Marche about a 6-minute drive away.
Hospital and healthcare in Lassay-les-Châteaux
Most people will have to take out a private health insurance policy until they can be accepted into the French healthcare system.
If you are retired and British, you can obtain an S1 that will care for your health costs. If you are not British but from another European country, you can get the same S1 and have your healthcare costs covered.
For the non-European, you must pay into the system of cotisations to be able to get healthcare, and you must have lived here in France for a minimum of 3 months to do so.
There are no expat hospitals, and you will never know which hospital staff speaks English, and there are no interpreters on staff as there are in hospitals in the UK and North America.
There is also a terrible lack of GPs and Dentists in rural areas, so finding one can be very difficult.
In major cities such as Paris, you would have no problem, and any city with a population over 20,000 has no issues with Doctors or Dentists.
But outside of the major cities, it is almost impossible to find a GP or Medecin Traitant (MT), as they call it here. You need an MT to be able to recoup the majority of your healthcare costs. Otherwise, you pay a greater percentage of the expenses.
We have private health insurance, which covers most of our health care costs and is relatively inexpensive compared to Canada or the US. You have to be careful choosing a plan, though, because many plans only cover a portion of the costs.
There is no such job here to compare to a Dental Hygienist, and cleaning teeth is not a thing outside of Paris. You may need to go to a hospital to have major dental work as you won’t be able to find a dentist in a village or town.
Phone and internet in Lassay-les-Châteaux
We are lucky in Lassay; there is fiber internet, which makes working from home easy.
If you have a satellite system, you can use a Freesat box and receive all the British TV channels you could want. Currently, there is a TV license fee in your Habitation Tax, but in 2023, that is set to go away.
France is committed to ensuring that all areas of the country have fiber by 2025, and Orange is the biggest supplier of fiber here in France.
Transportation in Lassay-les-Châteaux
There is no real public transportation here in Lassay, so we have a car that you need to get to the larger grocery shops. Our insurance costs us €45 per month.
The price of new and used cars here is very high, and you will probably spend around €10,000 to get something decent, but expect to add at least 25% to what you might pay in Britain or the US.
Weather in Lassay-les-Châteaux
The weather is very British – four seasons, two of which are cold, damp, rainy, and occasionally very frosty. However, compared to Canada, -7 beats -35 any day.
Good and bad things about living in Lassay-les-Châteaux, France
Living in a small village here in France is much the same as living in any place in the world.
We do find the much-vaunted French food is not that great outside of the major cities, and the variety is extremely limited.
However, on the upside, we have two fabulous boulangeries in Lassay making amazing cakes and bread and, of course, the gorgeous French UNESCO traditional baguettes.
We also now have a Fromagerie in town which sells some of those amazing French cheeses.
What are the best things to do in Lassay-les-Châteaux?
Visit one of the three Chateaux, explore French history and get involved in the community with the cultural organization or the gardening clubs.
Did you experience any difficulties when you first moved here?
Do not expect anything to move fast in France.
We have been here for two years and are still waiting for acceptance into the healthcare system and receive a Carte Vitale, which is used to help pay for healthcare costs, and we are paying our contributions to the healthcare system.
Until you get your Carte Vitale, you have to pay upfront and then request reimbursement when you are accepted into the system.
You can take out private health care on top of public healthcare, which will cost around €75 per person.
Is it easy to make new friends in Lassay-les-Châteaux?
On Wednesday mornings during the market, you will find everyone shopping at the market and meeting for coffee in the local Tabac Coffee shop.
There you will find many English speakers to start a conversation with and learn more about the area.
We have met several Americans who have purchased small holiday homes here, along with a few British folks, some who live here permanently and others that come for holiday visits.
Where are your favorite cafes in Lassay-les-Châteaux?
La Brazza, the Tabac and Coffee shop, is the hub of the Lassay community.
Where are your favorite restaurants and bars in Lassay-les-Châteaux?
Not a lot of choice here in Lassay.
We have one better quality restaurant that only serves things like Steak Frite or Moules Frites and one Auberge that serves a limp salad and a lot of fatty meat.
For the most part, we travel up to 45 minutes to find Chinese or Vietnamese food and Sushi. Or head to Mayenne, which is around 20 minutes away for fast food like Burger King or Mcdonald’s.
Do you have tips for finding a job in Lassay-les-Châteaux?
Sorry to say there is no work in Lassay. You would have to work in a larger city and speak perfect French to be able to work in Hospitality.
What have you learned from living in France?
French bureaucracy is a nightmare.
The French civil service is horrific when it comes to computers and the ability to do things online.
They will lose your paperwork repeatedly and ask you over and over again for the same documents. Even the French complain loudly about how bad the public system is.
About Faith Coates
Hubs and I ran away from home in Canada (because our kids wouldn’t), and we traveled Europe through house and pet sitting. We are very lucky as we were born in Ireland and have Irish passports, allowing us to travel and live throughout the European Union without issues. We have lived in Ireland, England, Spain, Cyprus, and now France. We got stuck in France during the pandemic and have stayed here as we love our little village and the people we have met. I write at XYUandBEYOND.com, and you can follow me on Facebook and Pinterest.
The opinions expressed here by Expatolife columnists are their own, not those of Expatolife.