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What changes in France from February 2017

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What changes in France from February 2017
Photo: AFP
10:12 CET+01:00
With the new month comes several new laws and price hikes that will affect life in France.
Here's a rundown of the main changes you need to know about.
 
Dip in gas prices
 
There is a change in gas prices each month in France and February will be no different. But this time, for the first time in three months, the prices will drop slightly for customers of gas provider Engie.
 
Prices will drop 0.6 percent on average, and around seven million homes are expected to be affected by this. The biggest drops will be felt by those who use gas to heat their homes as well as for cooking.
 
Increase on road toll prices
 
It's also going to be pricier to drive on France's motorways, with the toll fees set to rise 0.8 percent on average. 
 
The increase is in line with inflation in 2016. The toll fees are expected to continue to rise over the coming years as France invests more in its motorways. 
 
 
Easier to change banks
 
If you want to switch banks, then don't fret about all the paperwork and potentially missing out on any old payments that might be yet to come in. 
 
From February 6th, the banks will essentially have to do all the work for you - for free and within 22 days - and all you'll need to do is tell your bank that you want to switch and sign a document. 
 
 
They'll then have to take care of all monthly payments attached to your account, any checks that haven't been cashed yet, and even to contact you if any money is paid to your old account. 
 
Previously banks didn't have any kind of deadline to tell you about old payments, and as a result up to 450,000 checks were rejected each year because of an defunct bank account, reported Le Figaro newspaper.
 
A recent study showed that one in four French people considered changing banks to be a "risky" move - but perhaps not anymore. 
 
Some cigarette brands to be banned
 
Health Minister Marisol Touraine announced on Tuesday that France was cracking down even further on cigarettes. 
 
A decree published on February 1st will ban a few brands of cigarettes from sale in France. 
 
 
Exactly which ones remains unclear at this point, though Touraine suggested that it would be "cigarettes with a fashion magazine name", reported BFM TV on Tuesday
 
It's likely the minister was referring to Vogue cigarettes, an upmarket brand that offers longer and thinner cigarettes. 
 
She added that there was no immediate plan to raise the prices of cigarettes. 
 
Fixed rent prices in Lille
 
Good news for renters in northern France's Lille.
 
Just like Paris did in August 2015, the city will be putting rental caps on properties depending on their size, year of construction, and location. 
 
It will now be illegal for landlords to add more than 20 percent to the recommended price set by authorities. 
 
Are you Lillois (as the locals call themselves) and want to know more? Simply follow the link in the Housing Minister's tweet below. 
 
Photo: Velvet/WikiCommons
 
 
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