French flock to Kensington and Chelsea to avoid tax hike


Wealthy French families are flocking to Kensington and Chelsea to escape the new 75% tax on high-earners.


By Lewis Garfield, Jamie Gordon, Jennifer Hardwick and Louise Quick

Wealthy French families are flocking to Kensington and Chelsea to escape the new 75% tax on high-earners.

Francois Hollande’s budget proposal on September 28 confirmed the tax hike on earnings of over €1m, which had feathers rustling even before his presidency.

South Kensington estate agents have confirmed they have seen an increase from potential French buyers.

Director of Kensington’s Chesterton Humberts estate agents, Guy Gittins, said they hired a French-speaking agent last year – just after Hollande began his campaign.

“Traditionally South Kensington is a draw for people from France, but since the election it’s just become a Mecca for our French-speaking friends,” he said.

“We definitely noticed an ongoing influx after the election – a significant increase on before that time.”

A Knight Frank spokesman said the total spending of French buyers in London between April and July rose by 21% in comparison to the same period last year.

The average French buyer in London is spending £3.6m, illustrating the financial clout of the new arrivals. 

Hazel Smith, chairperson for King’s Road Trade Association, said she had noticed the difference.

She said: “Because of the situation in France people are finding England more attractive financially.

“It’s a melting-pot of cultures and we all get on well with each other, it’s lovely.”

Ms Smith, a fourth-generation King’s Road shop owner, added shops and eateries had become more French influenced.

“All of the French bakers have opened shop in Chelsea.  Now it’s less curry, more croissants,” she said.

Chairperson for King’s Road Association of Chelsea Residents, Dr James Thompson said: “I don’t like it when people buy a house and only use it for three weeks a year.

“When the French come to live here, they actually live here and I like that.”

It is estimated over 300,000 French live in the capital, which is regarded by some as France’s sixth most populous city.

There are a number of French-speaking schools across London, two of which are in South Kensington.

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