In France, the postal service is known as La Poste. It is Europe’s most crucial postal network. That doesn’t make it any easier for us Anglo-Saxons to navigate. Have you ever decided not to post a letter because it is simply too complicated? Is the line too long? Are you afraid someone will force you to use one of those horrible machines? Are you concerned about doing it incorrectly and having your letter delivered to the wrong location? Everyone has been there! This article will give some pointers on using the French postal system like a pro. Once you’ve mastered it, you’ll realize that La Poste is a very efficient system.

How To Send A Letter In France with La Poste

La Poste has three rates for sending mail in France: first-class, second-class, and green. The green letter is an environmentally friendly alternative to standard rates; sending a letter by green emits 15% less CO2 than first-class mail. First-class stamps (usually red) are used for faster delivery, which means postage will take up to one or three days to arrive. Second-class (usually green) service is slower, lasting two to three days. 

How To Send A Letter In France 1

A tip: you don’t have to buy a stamp book at La Poste. Stamps can be purchased in various locations, including newsagents (Tabac). So go to the Tabac and get your stamps ahead of time to avoid the line at La Poste!

You can either go to a cashier or the self-service machines to send a letter this way. Instead of a stamp, these machines will weigh your items and provide you with a postage label. Although these may appear intimidating, they have an English language option, which makes the entire process much more manageable. Don’t hesitate to ask for help if you’re still having trouble. They will most likely feel sorry for you because it is not an easy skill to master! Items weighing more than 3kg must be sent in packages.

The Ecopli Service

The Ecopli service is the least expensive, but it can only send letters weighing up to 250g. The delivery time ranges from 3 to 5 days. The service is commonly used for bulk mailings like bank statements and bills. Letters sent outside the EU require a different stamp, whereas letters sent within the EU typically use a blue stamp. However, if you ask at the desk, they will sometimes give you a choice of some very lovely designs for the same price.

Another piece of advice is that the opening hours of La Poste vary greatly. Despite being in a large city, some businesses can only be open for two hours daily. So make sure to double-check this before you go!

Where To Write The Address On An Envelope In France?

The address should be written in the bottom right-hand corner of the envelope’s face.

How To Send A Letter In France 2

French Address Example

An example of an appropriately formatted French address is as follows:

Capitaine Jean Luc PICARDaddressee of the letter
52 RUE DES FLEURSstreet number and street name
33500 LIBOURNEpostcode + locality
FRANCE Destination nation notation

French Address Format

The addressee or recipient, the street address, and the postcode or locality lines are the three core details of any French address, as they are in most countries. These are the lines that will appear in all addresses. Extra information is frequently used to add specificity or clarity to delivery instructions.

The order of address details in a French address is as follows. Important: Required items are highlighted in BOLD.

  • Line 1: Name, title, and pleasantries
  • Line 2: Secondary information about address (apartment number, etc.) It is optional.
  • Line 3: Information about the access (building name, entrance number/location, etc.) It is optional in the letter.
  • Line 4: Street name and number
  • Line 5: Extra information aiding delivery (Lieu-dit, PO box, etc.) It is optional.
  • Line 6: Postal code and name of other applicable locality or city
  • Line 7: The Country of destination is optional and only necessary for international mail.

The postal address format in France allows for a surprising amount of additional information. However, the format is quite strict. The address cannot be more than six lines long (seven for international). There is also a lot of CAPS LOCK. We’ll demonstrate what we mean.

The previous example address in this article was a reasonably standard French address. It’s nearly as brief as an address can be. It could be shorter if it were a local letter without the international line. If that were the case, it would look something like this:

  • Cpt. Jean Luc PICARD Line 1
  • 52 RUE DES FLEURS Line 4
  • 33500 LIBOURNE Line 6

How To Send A Letter In France 3

That’s as simple as a French address gets. The problem is that there can be twice as many lines as this. As a result, you may instead encounter the following:

  • Monsieur Jacque LAFONTAINE Line 1
  • Chez SalomĂ© COPEAU Apartment 3 Line 2
  • La rĂ©sidence du Sillon Line 3
  • 25 RUE DE RIVOLI Line 4
  • CAUDOES Line 5
  • 33370 MIOS Line 6
  • FRANCE Line 7

The only two details to discuss are CEDEX and corporate addresses (the two are not mutually exclusive). For lack of a better term, a corporate address appoints a supervisor over the addressee, relegating the recipient’s name to the second line. Behold:

  • UNSC                 company name
  • MCPO Jean Sienne     addressee (takes the place of secondary delivery information)
  • Zone Industrielle additional geographical information
  • 117 AVENUE DES CHAMPS-ÉELYSEES street name and number
  • 02552 LIBOURNE postcode and municipality/locality
  • FRANCE national destination

Aside from the corporation’s assertion about the terminal addressee, the address remains unchanged. In addition, business names (or the last word in the name) are capitalised, as are recipients’ surnames.

CEDEX addresses are addresses with their postal code, most commonly seen in the case of post office boxes. If that business address were a PO box rather than an internal building address, it would look something like this:

  • Louis Vuitton company name
  • MCPO Emilien Simone addressee
  • La rĂ©sidence du Sillon additional geographical information
  • 52 RUE DES FLEURS street name and number
  • BP 353 PO box number
  • 02512 LIBOURNE CEDEX postcode and CEDEX delivery office
  • FRANCE national destination

The PO box number is preceded by the letters “BP”. They stand for “Boîte Postale” or “postal box,” which is placed on the fifth line, and “CEDEX” is added in all caps after the post office’s location. Furthermore, the PO box does not replace the recipient’s physical address; this keeps it at the cool kid’s table.

Now comes the perplexing situation that causes a problem: sometimes, the post office is not in the area where the recipient keeps an address. There is a workaround. Add the post office’s location to the line with the PO box number as follows:

  • L’école de Xavier company
  • Mademoiselle Jeanne GREY recipient
  • RĂ©sidence les Capucines geographical information
  • 56 RUE EMILE ZOLA street name and number
  • BP 90432 MONTFERRIER SUR LEZ PO box number + locality
  • 34092 MONTPELLIER CEDEX 5 postcode and CEDEX delivery office

You’ll notice that the CEDEX in this last example had a number to indicate which post office is the destination if a city has multiple post offices.

How To Send A Letter In France 4

How Much Is The Cost To Mail A Letter In France?

Registered letters cost €4.83 (US$4.93), compared to regular letters €4.55 (US$4.65) in 2022, and will be delivered in three days. Even though people are sending fewer letters today, they are sending more Colissimo parcels.

Customers can choose between three types of letters beginning January 1, 2023. Letter and newspaper/magazine distribution, parcel deliveries, and local services will continue to be available six days a week. According to the company, while people send fewer priority letters nowadays, other types of mail, such as standard everyday letters, letters with legal value, or small items sent in letter format, continue to play an important role in French society. The top expectations from La Poste’s recent survey of 22,000 business and private customers were reliable delivery, mail-tracking services, and environmental consideration.

How To Send A Letter In France 5

How Long Does A Letter In France Take To Arrive?

There are two types of posts: timbre rouge (first class) and timbre vert (second class). Second-class mail can take up to two days to arrive, but it is considered more environmentally friendly because no aircraft is involved. A Lettre Prioritaire (rouge) should be delivered within one business day.

In France, the mail is delivered six days a week. National letter rates currently range between about 1.28 euros for a Lettre Prioritaire and about €10 for a 3kg parcel. International letter rates currently range from around €2 to €20. It is possible to obtain insurance for letters containing valuable content.

How To Send A Letter By Tracking In France

It is sometimes a good idea to track a letter. Use the Chronopost service for tracked letters and the Colissimo service for tracked parcels. When it comes to sending parcels or letters in this manner, several options are available, including recorded delivery and varying rates. Remember to bring some form of identification with you to La Poste. While this may not appear necessary, it is frequently requested when sending a letter!

La Poste Tracking Number Format Examples

A La Poste tracking number, for example, might look like this:

  • EE019238594FR
  • EH483995847FR
  • NN750995485FR

You can also use the Ship24 universal tracking website to begin tracking La Poste parcels. To obtain all of the information about your La Poste package, go to the Ship24 homepage, enter the tracking number of your La Poste parcel in the search bar, and press enter.

What Are La Poste Tracking Notification Updates?

When a tracking number is obtained, tracking notifications will be sent to the user, informing them of the parcel’s current status. Non-French speakers may have difficulty tracking La Poste notifications. You will receive the following notifications from La Poste when you track your parcels.

La Poste Tracking Notifications

Tracking Notifications/UpdatesDescription
Votre envoi est en cours d’acheminement vers sa destination.Your package is on its way to its destination.
Votre colis est en transit sur plateformes pour vous être livré le plus rapidement possible.The package is currently en route to one of La Poste’s offices and will be delivered as soon as possible.
Votre envoi est sur le site qui dessert votre adresse. Nous préparons sa distribution.The package is being prepared for delivery at a local facility near you.
Votre envoi vient d’arriver en France.The shipment has arrived in France.
Votre envoi a été distribué dans la boîte à lettres.Your package has arrived in your mailbox.
Votre Colissimo va bientôt nous être confié ! Il est en cours de préparation chez votre expéditeur.Your Colissimo package will be delivered to them shortly. The sender is preparing the package.
Votre colis est dans le site de livraison qui dessert votre adresse. Nous le préparons pour le mettre en livraison.The package is being delivered to you from a La Poste hub near you.
Votre colis est livré.The package has been delivered.
Votre envoi est sur le site de départ dans le pays d’origine avant son transport international.The package is about to leave the country of origin and be transported abroad.

Conclusion

The French postal system is highly efficient and works best when letters are addressed correctly in French so that sorting machines can read them automatically. If you do not follow the above guidelines, your letter will not be sorted by machines and will either have to be sorted by hand or will never reach its destination.