What changes in France from February 2017

With the new month comes several new laws and price hikes that will affect life in France.

What changes in France from February 2017
Photo: AFP
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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What changes about life in France in May 2022?

A new government, May marches, flowers and public holidays as well as a rise in the minimum wage, tax deadlines, and the return of the Cannes Film Festival - here's what is happening in France in May.

What changes about life in France in May 2022?

Public Holidays

There are several public holidays in the month of May, but sadly two of the three fall on Sundays this year.

International Worker’s Day, or May Day, is on Sunday, May 1st. The holiday also coincides with the first Sunday of the month, when many museums offer free access. Though several businesses will close their doors on May Day, some museums will stay open and offer free entry, like the Air and Space Museum.

The other two public holidays are May 8th (Victory in Europe Day), which will also fall on a Sunday, and May 26th (Ascension) which will fall on a Thursday. May 8th is marked with military parades and remembrance events in towns and cities around France.

READ ALSO Why 2022 is a bad year for public holidays in France

May Day

As we mentioned, May 1st falls on a Sunday this year but although there is no extra day off work the other May Day traditions remain in place – notably trades union demonstrations and marches and the giving of the lucky lily-of-the-valley flowers.

School holidays end

Schools in zone B (northern France and Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur) have already returned after the Easter holidays, but schools in Zone A (central France) restart classes on Monday, May 2nd while schools in Zone C (Paris and south west France) go back on Monday, May 9th). 

New government

The newly re-elected president Emmanuel Macron is shaking up his government, with Prime Minister Jean Castex having announced that he will resign.

This allows Macron to create a new top team of ministers and appoint a new PM, whose focus will be on fighting the parliamentary elections in June.

Voter Registration Deadline

If you are a French citizen but are not yet registered to vote for the parliamentary elections, then do not delay because you have until Wednesday, May 4th to do so online and until Friday, May 6th to do the process in person (either at your town hall or by the post).

READ ALSO When are the parliamentary elections and why are they important?

Candidate deadlines

Aspiring deputés (the French equivalent of MPs) must file their declaration of candidacy with their respective préfecture between Monday, May 16th and Friday May 20th. 

Tax Deadlines

May brings the first deadlines for the annual tax declaration – compulsory for almost everyone in France.

If you choose to file your tax returns on paper, the deadline is May 19th, 2022, regardless of where you live. For the online declarations, you have until May 24th if you live in the départements 1 to 19, and until May 31st 2022 for the départements from 20 to 54. For the remaining départements, you have until June 7th, 2022 at midnight.

READ ALSO The French tax calendar 2022

Minimum wage increase

Due to inflation, the minimum wage automatically increases on May 1st. INSEE, the national statistics bureau of France, has specified the minimum wage must increase by 2.65 percent (or €33) starting May 1st – this means that the gross hourly minimum wage will increase from €10.57 to €10.85.

Benefit increases

In line with the minimum wage increases, there will also be an increase of 1.8 percent to certain benefits including the RSA, family allowance and disables persons allowance. The back-to-school grant that families get in August will also increase to €376.98 for children aged 6 to 10, €397.78 for those aged 11 to 14 and €411.56 for teenagers aged 15 to 18.

Jobseekers training

A new payment system comes into effect for jobseekers who are undertaking extra professional training – trainees aged 16-18 will be paid €200 a month instead of the current €130. For trainees aged between 18 and 25, it will be €500, and €685 per month for those aged 26 and over.

Black boxes in cars

All new cars on sale in France are now required to be fitted with a ‘black box recorder’ similar to those in planes, in accordance with an EU measure voted into place in 2019. The measure will be extended to all cars on sale, including used cars, by 2024.

Bac delays

Initially scheduled for mid-March, the speciality tests for the general and technological baccalaureate have been postponed to May 11th-13th due to disruptions caused by the fifth wave of the Covid-19 epidemic. 

The Cannes Film Festival 

The 2022 festival will take place from May 17th to 28th at the Palais des festivals et des congrès in Cannes. It will be the 75th edition of the world renowned festival.  

Bubble Museum

The new bubbles, balls and inflatables exhibition at the Grand Halle of La Villette in Paris, will let you continue diving into ball pits until August 21st. 

VIDEO Check out Paris’ new bubble exhibition 

Deadline set for student grants

If you are interested in obtaining a student grant, student social housing, or aid for the 2022-2023 academic year, you have until May 15th to apply. According to the official website, even if you do not have all the elements required for the application, it is still important to fill out the application by the stated deadline.

A new increase in the interest rate?

The tax-free, government-regulated savings account known as the Livret A – used by over 55 million French people – may increase its interest rates due to inflation starting May 1st, 2022. For the moment, no official announcement has been made. But if this announcement is confirmed, then it will be a first in the history of the Livret A. Usually, the rate of the Livret A and the Livret de développement durable et solidaire (LDDS) can only be increased twice a year, specifically on February 1st and August 1st. The rate of the Livret A already changed on February 1st this year, from 0.5 percent to 1 percent.