France minimum wage versus average salary

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It is not part of French culture to talk about money. There might be some remains of the catholic culture where it is taboo to talk about money. “We do not show our payslip to anyone, and we do not tell how much we make”.

As Anne-Marie Berthier says in her studies of the Influence of Catholicism in French Contemporary mentalities. Catholicism is a religion “to help the poor” and where getting rich is not well seen. Even though France is now an atheist country, its Catholic roots left some traces. Knowing the France minimum wage and the median salary will help you position yourself on the salary scale to negotiate your salary and also will give you an idea of the cost of living in France.

I have also written a full post on the French cost of living.

Saying this, it doesn’t mean French people do not get prepared to talk about salary expectations during a job interview or that they don’t negotiate a pay rise every year or so.

The job market is different from what you may be used to and the salaries vary greatly depending on the industries and the job position. It is therefore important to do some research based on your specific situation, experience and industry before you go to your first job interview. You can check recruitment agencies analyses such as Hays or Micheal Page, for example

I will now address the French minimum salary and also the average salary as it helps to get a better idea of general incomes in France.

France minimum wage

As it is the case in many other countries, France has a legal minimum wage. It is reevaluated annually in line with the inflation and also takes into account the salaries’ general evolution.

The minimum wage or SMIC as we call it in France is €11.52 gross per hour in since May 1st, 2023. This would mean 1,383.08 net/month for a full-time job. 

***CAUTION*** This is the amount after social charges but before income taxes.

2023 Gross SMIC (in EUR)

2023 Net SMIC (in EUR)

SMIC per hour

Per government decree



SMIC per day

Based on 7h worked per day



SMIC per month

Based on 35h worked per week or 151,67h per month



Source: Legisfrance: Arrêté du 26 avril 2023 relatif au relèvement du salaire minimum de croissance

*Net before income taxes


So when you consider the cost of the fixed charges in France such as the rent, you quickly understand that living on a SMIC is tough even though other financial help may be available. According to the French National statistics entity (INSEE), about 10% of the population in France earn €1,247 net per month or less.

It also helps to compare the French situation with other countries taking into account the purchasing power standards. The European statistics entity, Eurostat, says France is in the first third for the purchasing power standard with a minimum wage in Europe.

minimum wage in Europe graph

France average income and median salary

The difference between the average and the median salary

An employee working full time in France makes an average income of €2,340 net per month (based on INSEE data for 2017). This number is not so meaningful as the top salaries impact the average.

Half of the working population in France earns less than €1,845 net/month, the median salary.

At the beginning of 2021, just over 2 million private-sector employees, or 12% of the workforce, were paid the French minimum wage (Smic), according to the Dares, the statistical service of the Ministry of Labour.

It is considered that the 30% lowest salaries, earning under €1,534 net per month, represent the under-qualified employees (often women), working in the area of services or workers.

If we take 50% of the population earning over €1,534 net per month, we can say that the middle class in France earns between 1,500€ and 2,800€ net per month.

The top 8% earns from €4,000 net per month and the top 1% starts from €8,700 net per month.

Daily, weekly (wage), monthly (salary)

Salary in France is usually expressed monthly or annually. The employers only use the gross amounts. The hourly rate can also sometimes be mentioned for some type of position.

Gross salary versus net salary

The income tax withholding in France

Defining the net salary can be a bit complex in France.

First, the concept of net amount differs between France and other countries as the income tax withholding has just been implemented in 2019 only. Therefore, until last year for a French person, the net amount received on the bank account every month was before paying income taxes. The difference between the gross amount and the net before income tax is about a 22% deduction for the social charges for the employee.

Also, this percentage will vary depending on whether the employee has an executive work contract (statut cadres) or an employee position (statut non-cadre) or is self-employed (indépendant).

The difference between social contributions and income tax

I realised that many expats don’t necessarily make the difference between social contributions and income tax. This is certainly because both social charges and income taxes have been deducted on payroll without necessarily specifying the detail as it would be on a French payslip.

Don’t get me wrong, there are very few French people that get into the details of their payslip and understand everything. We find it very complex too!

In France, social security contributions, as per its name, are financing the social security system (including, for example, maternity leave, healthcare, pensions, unemployment benefits). These are pre-assigned amounts for specific funds.

Whereas the income tax budget is managed by the government and its spending vary on government politics a lot.

I hope this information helped you make sense of the French salary system as I have always found it very different from the other countries I have worked in such as Spain or the UK.

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expat in france
Mademoiselle Guiga
from Expat in France


  • How much is the minimum wage in France?

    The minimum wage is updated every year on 1st January. In 2021, the French minimum wage per hour is 10.25 € (Decree 2020 – 1598 du 16 December 2020). This represents €1,230.61 net/month for a full-time job. This is the amount after social charges but before income taxes.

  • What is the average income in France?

    A full-time employee in France makes an average income of  €2,340 net per month. However, the median monthly salary is €1,845 net/month.

  • Are the salaries low in France?

    Considering the high tax and social contribution system paid by individuals but also by the companies, the net income is quite low compared to other countries.

    However, in parallel, many people get access to financial subsidies such as the housing aid mentioned above or the family benefits.

  • What is a high salary in France?

    The middle class in France earns between € 1,500 and € 2,800 net per month. In Paris, a good salary is often considered to be between € 3,000 and € 4,999 per month to allow a good living in the capital.

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    I would like to know if as an auto- entrepreneur and a part-time CDI contract we can obtain a visa in France.
    Is it possible to apply for an independent visa? At the moment I am dependant on my spouse but would like to apply for an independent visa. Could you please assist me?

    Thank You

    • Mademoiselle Guiga

      Hi Kiran,
      Only the following status allows you to be both micro-entrepreneur and salaried employee:
      – visa Vie Privée et Familiale
      – 10-year residence card
      Then the Entrepreneur/Profession Liberale visa allows you to be self-employed ONLY (no salaried position possible).
      I hope this helps. Best,

  • Andy Dole

    Hello, I really appreciate your efforets in helping expats to know how to go about there administrative differrences. Please i submitted my demand for 10 years resident card October 2021 and till the moment I haven’t received any response. My 2 years temporary tittle of stay (titre de sejour) expired December 2021 and I was given a resident paper of 6 months that will expired in June 2022. Please I want know how long I will wait to get a response from the prefecture.

    • Mademoiselle Guiga

      Hello Andy,
      This situation is very common I’m afraid.
      If you don’t hear back from the Prefecture, you will need to go there before the expiry of your récépissé (what you call the resident paper for 6 months).
      If your card is ready it will be given to you. And if it is not, they will give you a new récépissé valid for another 4 to 6 months. This is unfortunate, but it can happen.
      Good luck!

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    Best regards
    My number: 00989121814286 (whatsapp telephone number)

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