The main French Banks are
- Crédit Agricole (link to English website)
- LCL (initials stand for Le Credit Lyonnais, it is now owned by Credit Agricole)
- BNP Parabis (link to English website)
- Société General (French-only website)
- Caisse d’Epargne (French-only website) – merged with Banque Populaire to form BPCE
- Banque Populaire (French-only website) – merged with Caisse d’Epargne to form BPCE
- Crédit Mutuel (French-only website), subsidiary CIC has English website
- La Banque Postale (Mostly French Website) – largest by customer base and branch network
Opening an account
La Banque Postale
La Banque Postale have an online form for opening an account. Most of the form is self-explanatory, and with a reasonable dictionary (or google translate), you’d be able to figure out the form. However, a valid mobile telephone number is required, and the format of an Irish telephone number does not seem to work correctly. So, even if you speak le lingo or can figure out the form, then you still can’t open one online without a French mobile number (or at least it appears so to me). They also ask quite a few questions, regarding your income, outgoings, rent if you rent, etc. The bank does seem to accept addresses from Ireland (with the usual difficulty about the zip code – I always make one up for forms), so it appears that opening an account as an Irish resident will not be a problem. However, with the mostly French website, and no obvious emails to send off queries to, it looks to me like a trip to France is required or as a minimum a phone call to a branch… They do seem to allow online banking, with a credit card etc, and the charges appear low (i.e. a few euro per month). I will post more information as I know more.
CIC (subsidiary of Credit Mutuel)
CIC responded directly to an English email – I filled out a form on their website. Here is how they responded.
- To open a Current Account, you just have to walk into a CIC branch or make an appointment to meet an English-speaking adviser.
- You just need proof of Identification ( clear copies of passports + birth certificate of all applicants)
- Proof of residence such as a copy of a utility bill
- The previous year’s tax returns
- If employed : The Earned Income, ie the last 3 pay slips
- A letter from your bank confirming that your account is not in any difficulty whatsoever or bank statements of the last 3 months.
- A WORK CONTRACT or a document that proves the kind of activity you do( where it written the date employment commenced.
- Other assets owned by you ( insurance contracts, share accounts, etc..)
- Other income ( from real estate, pensions etc?)
- Also if you’ve got a bank account in your home country, bank account details, what we call in France a RIB ( in order to make International Transfers)
As there seemed to be some confusion regarding where I was resident, I sent another email to verify if an Irish address was OK, and was told that a non-resident account could be opened with a proof of residence in Ireland.
Since Ryanair fly into Beauvais, I checked out the two branches of CIC in Beauvais. I found the branch first on the branch-finder page. The first is the Hotel de Ville branch (23 Rue de Malherbe), email email@example.com, and telephone 00 33 344 14 65 90 - however, the employee who speaks English is not available till October 4th apparently. The second has the address 5 Rue de Jacobins, and email firstname.lastname@example.org. I was given the number 00 33 344 14 66 13 to ring (but the individual I needed to talk to wasn’t available at the time).
I’ll update this as I have more information.
Exposure to Greek Sovereign Debt
The European Stress test results show that French Bank’s exposure to Greek debt is as follows.
- BNP Paribas – €5 Billion (€3.4 Billion indirect)
- Crédit Agricole – €655 million (€21 Billion indirect exposure)
- BPCE - €1.2 Billion (Banque Populaire and Caisse d’Epargne) – no information on indirect exposure
- Société Genérale – €2.65 Billion – no information on indirect exposure
The stress tests do not provide indications of the other banks exposure that I have mentioned, although I do see articles suggesting smaller exposures to Greek debt for Credit Mutuel. The indirect exposures are taken from a June 15th FT article .
In summary, it looks as if French banks will be in some disarray if a Greek default occurs.
French Government Guarantee on deposits.
The Fond de Garantie des depôts (English link) is the French government’s deposit guarantee scheme. The maximum compensation limit is €100,000 as of writing.