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See what changes in France from February 1st

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Photo: AFP
10:45 CET+01:00
The start of February brings with it several changes that could hit you in the pocket or perhaps even leave you slightly better off.

First the good news.

From February 1st gas prices are going down once again. The provider Engie (formerly GDF-Suez) which has 6.4 million consumers in France will drop its prices by an average of 1.86 percent from Monday.

That reflects the fifth consecutive month in which prices have fallen. Since January 2015 gas prices have dropped by an average of 12.6 percent.

Now for the bad news.

For anyone who drives a lot around France you will have to shell out just a little bit more from now on to pay for the motorway tolls.

From February 1st the toll prices or peages as they are called in French, will rise by an average of 1.12 percent.

The steepest hikes will be seen on motorways in the south west of the country.

But we can't say it hasn't been coming. The prices of tolls were frozen throughout 2015, partly due to pressure from motorist groups, but 2016 will see the tariffs once again on the rise.

That's in the main due to the fact that the French state has raised the “rent” for the seven private companies who run the motorways.

Motorist groups have blasted the companies for passing on that rise to drivers.

And now for the other changes.

Jobseekers

From now on most new jobseekers in several regions of France will have to sign on with the “Pôle Emploi” over the internet rather than in an actual office.

The change will affect jobseekers in Normandy and the regions of the south west Poitou Charentes and Languedoc-Roussillon Midi-Pyrénées. The switch is being rolled out gradually across all of France's regions.

While it sounds like a helpful move, the only problem is, you'll need to scan all of your relevant documents to be able to sign up.

Bank charges comparison site launched

Monday will see a new website created by France's Ministry of Finance go live. The site allows members of the public to compare the tariffs charged by all the banks, before choosing who to open an account with.

Tariffs include the cost of having a bank card and making transactions etc.

Customers will be able to compare around 100 different banks.

Scooter drivers given more freedom

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It happens all the time anyway but from Monday scooter drivers will be able to snake their way between two lanes of cars without breaking the law.

Apparently 97 percent of riders are already doing it, but now weaving between two lines of vehicles before traffic lights or in log jams will be legal for the next four years in the Paris region and several other parts of the country, including the Rhône.

It's basically a long-term experiment that authorities want to carry out to see whether it leads to improved safety or perhaps the opposite.

And what won't change?

Anyone who is trying to save money through the Livret A accounts in France isn't likely to get rich quick.

The interest rates which have dropped to 0.75 percent will not see any change.

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