For members


How to get through France’s hunting season ‘without being shot’

The hunting season for 2022 has begun in many areas across France, so people in rural areas need to be aware of the safety precautions needed when la chasse is active.

How to get through France's hunting season 'without being shot'
Photo: AFP

The opening date of the hunting season varies according to area, but for many parts of France it has already begun – you can find the full calendar here.

The hunting season lasts until February, and brings with it serious risks – over the years casualties have included a 13-year-old boy who was shot dead by his own grandfather, a Frenchwoman who was killed in her own garden after a hunter fired a shot through her hedge and a hunter who was shot dead during a wild boar hunt

Some accidents are bizarre and completely random, such as the death of a driver killed by a bullet that rebounded off a boar, but many simply involve hunters shooting at people they have mistaken for game.  

So, whether you’re a keen rambler, a nature lover or you just happen to live in a rural area of France and enjoy walking your dog on a Sunday morning, here are some tips to help you get safely through the hunting season. 


'It's like the Wild West': Tales of life in rural France during the hunting season
Photo: AFP

Know the hunting calendar

Hunting is more popular in France than anywhere else in Europe, with over one million people (not all of them licensed) taking part in the controversial pastime so it certainly helps to know exactly when the hunting season begins in your department and which days people are allowed to hunt.

France is divided into 94 hunting federations, and different federations have different start dates. Broadly, the season runs from September to February.

Find the full calendar HERE.

But knowing the calendar is one thing…

The real challenge is to know where exactly the hunters are going to be on a certain day and for this there is no one website to visit or person to call.

French walking associations recommend contacting the local Town Hall although they might not have been informed, as well as local hunting associations and walking groups whose members might be in the know.

This will at least give you an idea of the places in your area you might want to avoid going for a walk in because they are regularly the scene for hunts.

And also try to find out what kind of hunt is taking place in the area so you know what to expect. It could be a hunt with dogs and it could be a group of hunters or just individuals. 

Also keep an eye out for signs saying la chasse – these are supposed to be prominently displayed when hunters are in the area, but in reality are often small and half hidden in hedges.

Download the apps to keep track of hunting parties near you

There are smartphone apps that exist for non-hunters to download to their smartphones. One is called “Melchone” which was launched in 2018 and partnered with the National Forestry Office (ONF). 

Essentially, the application allows users to see whether a hunting party is nearby to the area they are walking, biking, or riding in. For hunters, the program offers a separate section where they can update their hunting area and schedule.

Stay on marked pathways (and avoid venturing into unmarked areas)

While it’s definitely useful to know exactly when the hunters are likely to be out and about, there are some who don’t stick to the rules which means it’s also a good idea to do your best to steer clear of the areas they’ll be hunting altogether. 

That means staying on proper paths when out walking which should minimise your chances to running into a hunt and you are much more likely to be spotted on marked paths especially well-known ones where hunters are likely to have seen people before. 

France set for controversial reforms to hunting laws

Photo: AFP

Wear bright clothing 

If you are out walking the dog then make it easier for the hunters to spot you by wearing a high visibility vest and even hat. And get one for your mutt too.

This is what hunters wear themselves so they are used to looking out for it. Ramblers associations also recommend avoiding white and neutral colours because they can be easily confused with the natural colouring of the animals that are being hunted.

 What to do if you hear a gun being fired?

If you realise there is a hunt going on around you and hear gunshots, try to make your presence known to the hunters as efficiently as possible (without shouting).

Ramblers associations say one of the ways you can do this is by moving to a clearing. Avoid hiding at all costs because your movements could look like an animal darting for cover. 

Some people say to avoid shouting in this situation as this may disturb the hunt and irritate the hunters however others say to sing, shout and do whatever you need to do to be noticed. 

If you get a chance to speak to hunters, do it 

This will give you a chance to find out some details which could help you steer clear of the hunt when out walking. 

One ramblers association recommends that you ask where the hunt is supposed to be taking place, if there are particular areas to avoid, whether there are any areas that will definitely be safe, how many hunters there are and how long the hunt will last.

While you can complain to your local mayor or local officials about la chasse, it might be better first to find out if they are involved in hunting themselves. Hunting is a long-standing rural tradition in France that thousands of people take part in, and some people can be hostile to what they perceive as attacks on their traditions by outsiders.

If you can, it’s better to form cordial relations and simply ask where hunters are likely to be and where you should avoid.


Photo: AFP

What to do if you come across a sign indicating an ongoing hunt

In some places, signs are used to indicate that a hunt is in progress. This is often the case on trails that cross the hunting area which is another reason to stay on a marked path in areas where you might be at risk.  

If you see one of these signs, take heed and don’t go any further.

While this might be frustrating, especially since it is sometimes difficult to predict, remember that it is your safety which is at stake. If possible, find a hunter who is willing to chat to you and ask him for more information (see above).

If not, turn around or try to find an alternative path. 

Photo: AFP

What does the Association for the Protection of Wild Animals have to say?

Marc Giraud, the Vice President of ASPAS (Association for the Protection of Wild Animals) who has written a book called “How to walk in the woods without being shot” (hence the quote in the title of this article) told The Local France: “Hunters are armed and passionate – to put it politely.

“It’s important to know your rights. Hunters are not always open people and they have a staggering level of rights themselves which are very complicated to understand. 

“My general advice is to be prudent around people who choose to spend some of their time being violent. And of course, you needn’t spend the whole of the hunting season avoiding the woods.”

In his book Giraud goes into detail into the complex laws surrounding hunting.   

Photo: AFP

And what about those living in the countryside?

“I grew up learning how not to go outdoors during hunting season, making sure to wear brightly coloured clothes and pretty much being terrified of getting shot during those times because it’s something that sadly happens very regularly,” Julia Kornig who grew up in the Vaucluse tells The Local.

And some fearful residents in rural France say they are forced to adjust their daily routines and miss out on beloved leisure activities.

Kene Ovenshire, a veteran of the US Airforce, who now lives in the Landes department of south west France told The Local: “My experience here in south west France during hunting season is that this is more of the Wild West than anywhere I’ve ever lived or visited in the US.

“I have a small 11 hectare farm, my home sits right in the middle of my property. My wife and I have eight horses and we enjoy riding on the paths that surround our home.

“But during hunting season we do not ever go out for walks, hikes, or bike rides. The hunters in our area are constantly coming within more than 150 meters of our home, on our property, and cracking off shots at the game they are hunting – pigeons, sanglier, deer, whatever.”

The statistics

On average there are around 20 deaths as a result of hunting in France each year. 

But, while it’s important to be cautious when you’re in the countryside during hunting season, the vast majority of people who are injured or killed are hunters themselves.

So, while it’s true that it’s unlikely you’ll fall prey to a fatal hunting injury if you’re out and about during France’s hunting season, there’s no doubt that you need to stay alert to the danger. 

Member comments

  1. Can private property be posted with signs that say “private property, no trespassing or hunting allowed” as we do in the USA? If on your property, one could play music really loudly to scare game and hunters away.

    1. You can put up ‘chasse interdit’ signs – some will respect these, others tear them down. I believe you can add your property/name to a list for land hunters may not cross at the town hall (though I have no more detail on this, it is just heresay).

  2. I bike on marked paths in the Vexin and hunters seem to be more numerous on Sunday afternoons, compared to Saturdays. I wear bright flashy colors but honestly a lot of these hunters seem drunk and I think accidents are definitely inevitable.

  3. We are very fortunate here that our local chasse is very well run, respectful and we have not had any issues with them (nor have our neighbours). If they were as well managed elsewhere I suspect a fair amount of the animosity directed at them would disappear.

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For members


What changes in France in July 2022

Summer's here and the time is right for national celebrations, traffic jams, strikes, Paris beaches, and ... changing the rules for new boilers.

What changes in France in July 2022

Summer holidays

The holiday season in France officially begins on Thursday, July 7th, as this is the date when school’s out for the summer. The weekend immediately after the end of the school year is expected to be a busy one on the roads and the railways as families start heading off on vacation.

READ ALSO 8 things to know about driving in France this summer


But it wouldn’t really be summer in France without a few strikes – airport employees at Paris’ Charles de Gaulle and Orly airports will walk out on July 1st, while SNCF rail staff will strike on July 6th. Meanwhile Ryanair employees at Paris, Marseille and Toulouse airports will strike on yet-to-be-confirmed dates in July.

READ ALSO How strikes and staff shortages will affect summer in France

Parliamentary fireworks?

Prime minister Elisabeth Borne will present the government’s new programme in parliament on July 5th – this is expected to be a tricky day for the Macron government, not only does it not have the parliamentary majority that it needs to pass legislation like the new package of financial aid to help householders deal with the cost-of-living crisis, but opposition parties have indicated that they will table a motion of no confidence against Borne.

Parliament usually breaks for the summer at the end of July, but a special extended session to allow legislation to be passed means that MPs won’t get to go on holiday until at least August 9th. 

Fête nationale

July 14th is a public holiday in France, commemorating the storming of the Bastille which was the symbolic start of the French Revolution. As usual, towns and cities will host parades and fireworks – with the biggest military parade taking place on the Champs-Elysées in Paris – and many stores will remain closed.

As the national holiday falls on a Thursday this year, many French workers will take the opportunity to faire le pont.

Festival season really kicks in

You know summer’s here when France gets festival fever, with events in towns and cities across the country. You can find our pick of the summer celebrations here.

Paris Plages

The capital’s popular urban beaches return on July 9th on the banks of the Seine and beside the Bassin de la Villette in northern Paris, bringing taste of the seaside to the capital with swimming spots, desk chairs, beach games and entertainment.  

Summer sales end 

Summer sales across most of the country end on July 19th – unless you live in Alpes-Maritimes, when they run from July 6th to August 2nd, or the island of Corsica (July 13th to August 9th).

Tour de France

The Tour de France cycle race sets off on July 1st from Copenhagen and finishes up on the Champs-Elysée in Paris on July 24th.

New boilers

From July 1st, 2022, new equipment installed for heating or hot water in residential or professional buildings, must comply with a greenhouse gas emissions ceiling of 300 gCO2eq/KWh PCI. 

That’s a technical way of saying oil or coal-fired boilers can no longer be installed. Nor can any other type of boiler that exceeds the ceiling.

As per a decree published in the Journal Officiel in January, existing appliances can continue to be used, maintained and repaired, but financial aid of up to €11,000 is planned to encourage their replacement. 

Bike helmets

New standards for motorbike helmets come into effect from July 1st. Riders do not need to change their current helmets, but the “ECE 22.05” standard can no longer be issued – and all helmets sold must adhere to a new, more stringent “ECE 22.06” standards from July 2024

New cars

From July 6th new car models must be equipped with a black box that record driving parameters such as speed, acceleration or braking phases, wearing (or not) of a seat belt, indicator use, the force of the collision or engine speed, in case of accidents.

New cars II

From July 1st, the ecological bonus for anyone who buys an electric vehicle drops by €1,000, while rechargeable hybrids will be excluded from the aid system, “which will be reserved for electric vehicles whose CO2 emission rate is less than or equal to 20g/km”.

What’s in a name?

Historically, the French have been quite restrictive on the use of family names – remember the concern over the use of birth names on Covid vaccine documents? – but it becomes easier for an adult to choose to bear the name of his mother, his father, or both by a simple declaration to the civil status. All you have to do is declare your choice by form at the town hall of your home or place of birth.

Eco loans

In concert with the new boiler rules, a zero-interest loan of up to €30,000 to finance energy-saving renovations can be combined with MaPrimeRénov’, a subsidy for financing the same work, under certain conditions, from July 1st.

Rent rules

Non-professional private landlords advertising properties for rent must, from July 1st, include specific information about the property on the ad, including the size of the property in square metres, the area of town in which the property is in, the monthly rent and any supplements, whether the property is in a rent-control area, and the security deposit required. Further information, including the full list of requirements for any ad, is available here.

Perfume ban

More perfumes are to be added to a banned list for products used by children, such as soap-making kits, cosmetic sets, shampoos, or sweet-making games, or toys that have an aroma.

Atranol, chloroatranol (extracts of oak moss containing tannins), and methyl carbonate heptin, which smells like violets, will be banned from July 5th, because of their possible allergenic effects.

Furthermore, 71 new allergenic fragrances – including camphor, menthol, vanilin, eucalyptus spp. leaf oil, rose flower oil, lavendula officinalis, turpentine – will be added to the list of ingredients that must be clearly indicated on a toy or on an attached label.

Ticket resto limits

The increased ticket resto limit ended on June 30th, so from July 1st employees who receive the restaurant vouchers will once again be limited to spending €19 per day in restaurants, cafés and bars. The limit was increased to €38 during the pandemic, when workers were working from home.