Thank you for your question. The answer is yes, normally one has to pay both customs tax and VAT tax on them. However, there are exemptions:
1. Exemption valid only for the Customs tax: the customs tax is sometimes 0% (zero), for some collectible objects. This is decided by the customs officer, and the customs classification goes to hundreds of pages, so you must inquire locally;
2. Exemptions valid for both taxes:
-> if the objects are part of an estate (i.e. if the recipient in France inherited them);
-> if the objects are part of their household, with the person having lived in Barbados for over 12 months, and moving residence to France for over 12 months as well, under a promise (made in the form of a declaration at customs) that they will not sell the objects in the next 12 months.
Both situations must be proven. The first one with an inheritance document (like a certificate from Barbados, or probate), the second one with proof of previous residence, plus declaration that the new residence will be taken up shortly.
I hope my answer was useful and look forward to your rating, which is essential to my activity.
Dr I L Vlad