Funeral costs in France average nearly €4,000, but there are significant variations between parlours and across the country.
The funeral business in France today is worth €2.25 billion, double the size of 20 years ago.
A recent survey carried out by consumer body UFC-Que Choisir reveals that burial services, not including the plot, cost on average €3,815.
That is an increase of 14% over 2014 and is more than three times the rate of inflation over the same period.
The study noted that not only was the increase significant, but there were substantial differences in prices between funeral parlours.
Whilst the cheapest quote for burial was €1,269, the most expensive was €7,515, highlighting the importance of requesting multiple quotes before opting for one company.
Prices also varied depending upon where you live, with prices in Nouvelle-Aquitaine averaging €3,483, rising to €4,882 in the Île-de-France.
The study also found there were large differences between certain elements of the service. With some companies, the opening and closing of the grave could cost between €95 and €880, whilst a simple oak wood coffin was as low as €490, but as high as €1,576.
There are also taxes to pay, which are set by the department, ranging from €30 to €107.
The general misconception of cremation being the cheaper option was also confirmed by the study as the average cost was higher than that for burial, at €3,986.
The cost of cremation has also risen sharply, with an increase of 16% in the last five years.
As with burial services, cremation services saw a striking difference between parlours, with the lowest quote coming in at €1,362 and the highest at €7,918.
Even though funeral parlours are required by law to provide a detailed list of expected costs in a written quotation, in 22% of cases no quote was provided.
Furthermore, in 65% of cases, the quote provided did not conform to the model required by law.
Overall, the study found that it was cheaper to use small, local companies than larger branded national parlours.
It is possible to take out an insurance policy (assurance obsèques) to cover funeral costs, but in a 2018 study carried out the consumer group INC, the policies were considered to be poor value, with premiums paid generally exceeding the costs of the funeral. Far better, say the authors, to simply put money away as savings.
There are also social security benefits to which a surviving spouse and relative may be eligible, such as a capital sum payable on the death. You can read more in our article Bereavement Payments in France.
Finally, it is also possible to use funds from the bank account of the deceased, up to a maximum of €5,000, subject to procedural compliance, e.g., agreement of all the inheritors, provision of estimated costs, no contrary provisions in a Will.