“It never fails. Whenever I’m in a rush at the grocery store, I end up behind someone slowly writing out a cheque for their groceries. “
Despite the popularity of debit cards, credit cards and electronic payments like PayPal, it’s still quite normal to see someone in France whip out their chequebook to pay for things like groceries, particularly in the countryside and amongst the elderly.
France accounts for over half of all cheques written in the entire EU. According to the Bank of France, 7 out of every 10 cheques written in 2017 in the European Union were written in France.
Even if you don’t think you’ll use cheques, there are certain situations where you may not have a choice.
Here are a few situations where I personally had no choice but to write a check in France.
- Real estate deposit & rental deposit
- Deposit for children’s annual sports memberships (paid to associations).
- Purchasing a used car
- At a restaurant that doesn’t take credit cards and when I don’t have enough cash for the bill, I just whip out my chequebook
6 Steps to writing a French bank cheque
I’ve got you covered.
Here are the instruction on how to fill out the six areas of a French bank cheque.
- You can watch the video above.
- You can also study the infographic below.
- Or you can read the instructions below the infographic.
1. Write the amount of the cheque in words in French.
Payez contre ce chèque: = Pay against this cheque.
The first two lines on a French bank cheque are reserved for the amount of the cheque which you must write out in words. And you must write the amount out in French.
If you don’t speak French or you don’t know how to spell French numbers, this could be a problem because you cannot write out the amount in English or any other language for that matter.
There are some solutions. You could ask the person to whom you are giving the cheque to fill out the amount for you. Or you could carry around a cheat sheet of French numbers written out in words.
Here’s an example of 1 575 euros and 99 centimes written in French:
a) Mille-cinq-cent-soixante-quinze euros et quatre-vingt-dix-neuf centimes.
You can also write the centimes (cents) out as numbers rather than words as indicated in example (b) below.
b) Mille-cinq-cent-soixante-quinze euros et 99 cent
**Write the word “et” between the euros and centimes which means “and”.
**If there is any empty space leftover at the end, draw a line through it.
2. Write the name of the person or business you are paying
A l’ordre de: =Pay to the order
On the line marked “A l’ordre de,” write the name of the person or business to whom you want to make the cheque out to.
3. Write the amount of the cheque in numbers
In the box next to the € sign, write the amount of the cheque in numbers. Make sure it matches the amount you wrote out in words in step one.
**Do not use a decimal for the cents. In France, a comma is used instead.
RIGHT: 1 575,99 (Notice the decimal use for showing cents)
WRONG: 1,575.99 (Do not use a decimal for the thousands place or a decimal for cents)
4. Write the city location
Fait à or A: Done in or at
The wording for this area will vary by bank but in general,l you’ll see the words “Fait à” or just “A” on the write hand side of the cheque.
This line is reserved for the name of the city where you are writing the cheque.
For instance, if you live in Marseille and write a check in Paris, you would write Paris on the cheque, NOT Marseille.
5. Write the date
On the right-hand side of the cheque, next to the line marked “Le”, write the date.
Make sure you use the format Day/Month/Year.
6. Sign the cheque
In the bottom right-hand corner is where you sign your cheque. Often there is nothing to indicate that this is where you sign—no line, nothing, just wide a wide open space. Sign anyways otherwise your cheque can’t be cashed.
Below is an example of a cheque written out to the French president, Emmanuel Macron in the amount of “one-thousand-seventy-five euros and nintety-nine centimes in Paris on the 31st of January, 2021.
This is not a real check and the account numbers are made up.
Bank Cheque Vocabulary
Bank cheque= chèque bancaire
A cheque= Un chèque.
Blank cheque = Chèque bancaire vierge
Bad cheque, rubber cheque, bounced cheque = chèque sans provision or chèque en bois. The latter literally translates as “wooden cheque”
A cheque book= Une Chéquier or un Carnet de chèques
Write a cheque= Faire un chèque
Make check payable to= Veuillez libeller votre chèque à l’ordre de
Fill out the check= Remplir un chèque