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CULTURE

France’s rock n’ roll icon Johnny Hallyday was indeed French, says court

A French court agreed on Tuesday to hear a law suit over the inheritance of France's biggest rock star Johnny Hallyday, saying that they regard him as French, not American.

France's rock n' roll icon Johnny Hallyday was indeed French, says court
Photo: PHILIPPE MERLE / AFP
Hallyday's two biological children, Laura Smet and David Hallyday, are fighting his widow Laeticia for a stake in the singer's millions after they were written out of his will.
 
In France, the right of children to their parents' estate is protected, but Hallyday and his wife had been based in the US for years before his death and his will had been rewritten under Californian law.
 
However the court determined that “up to the end he lived a bohemian and nomadic life, but above all a very French life that led him to live… usually in France.”
   
 
   
Son of late French singer Johnny Hallyday, David Hallyday (right), daughter Laura Smet (2nd from right), wife Laeticia (2nd from left), their daughters Jade (left) and Joy (center) stand by the coffin outside at the Eglise de la Madeleine at the start of his funeral ceremony on December 9, 2017 in Paris. Photo: Ludovic MARIN / POOL / AFP
 
Hallyday's death from lung cancer in 2017 triggered an outpouring of grief over France's answer to Elvis Presley, a star since the 1960s. 
   
His  estate, worth several tens of millions of dollars, includes multiple properties as well as luxury cars and the rights to his 1,160 songs.
   
The court in Nanterre, in the Paris suburbs, ruled that the singer, whose real name was Jean-Philippe Smet, lived primarily in France, a decision hailed as a victory for his children, who have been fighting for more than a year after he left his fortune to Laeticia and their two adopted daughters.
 
Laeticia Hallyday is planning to appeal the decision, her lawyer said.
   
“I will not try to hide my amazement and dismay at this decision,” lawyer Ardavan Amir-Aslani said. “Indisputable factual elements have been ignored in favour of misleading arguments presented by the other party.”
   
Hallyday's daughter Laura Smet was “extremely moved” by the decision, her lawyer Emmanuel Ravanas told reporters.
   
“She's been fighting… for more than a year in very difficult circumstances,” he said.
   
“An American court would be completely unfit to rule on this case, which does not involve a single American.” 
   
“The attempt by Laeticia Hallyday and her counsel to evade French jurisdiction over the settlement of this succession has clearly failed. It was a stalling tactic.”
   
Laeticia Hallyday had argued in March that she and her late husband had lived in Los Angeles since 2007. However, the court said the rock star had left a will that year claiming he lived in Switzerland and that his inheritance should be “settled exclusively in accordance with Swiss law”.
 
The court also said he lived in France “for eight months before his death”.
   
The star's son also located his father through Instagram posts, claiming he spent 151 days in France in 2015, and 168 days in 2016.

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MONEY

Everything you need to know about France’s 2022 summer sales

In France, you can only shop the best deals twice a year - during the soldes. Here is everything you need to know about this year's summer sales.

Everything you need to know about France's 2022 summer sales

They happen twice a year – Each year, France has two soldes periods: one in the winter, usually starting January, and another in the summer, usually starting in June.

This summer, the soldes will start on Wednesday, June 22nd in most parts of France and run for four weeks, so even though you might be tempted to go on the first day, keep in mind they’ll be going on for a while.

They are progressive, so items will be continuously marked down as the soldes wear on. If you wait, you are risking that your favourite t-shirt might sell out quickly, but if you’re lucky it might end up marked down even further.

During 2020 and 2021 the government altered sales dates and time periods to help shops cope with closures and lockdowns, but now we’re back to the usual timetable.

This is the only time stores can have “sales” – Technically, the soldes are the only time that stores are allowed to have sales, but the definition of ‘sale’ is important.

Basically, the French government qualifies a ‘solde‘ as the store selling an item for less than they purchased it for.

During the rest of the year discounting is allowed in certain circumstances, so you might see promotions or vente privée (private sales, usually short-term events aimed at regular customers or loyalty-card holders) throughout the year.

In these situations the stores might be selling items for less than their original price, but they are not permitted to sell the item for less than they bought it for. 

Shops are also permitted to have closing-down sales if they are shutting down, or closing temporarily for refurbishment.

They are strictly regulated by the French government – Everything from how long the soldes go for to the consumer protection rules that apply to the very definition of ‘solde’ is regulated by the French government, and the main purpose of this is to protect small independent businesses which might not be able to offer the same level of discounts as the big chains and multi-national companies.

Whether you shop in person or online, the same rules apply.

As a consumer, you still have the same rights as non-sales times regarding broken or malfunctioning items – meaning you ought to be entitled to a refund if the item has not been expressly indicated as faulty. The French term is vice caché, referring to discovering a defect after purchase.

On top of that, stores must be clear about which items are reduced and which are not – and must display the original price on the label as well as the sale price and percentage discount. 

READ MORE: Your consumer rights for French sales

They started in the 19th century – France’s soldes started in the 19th century, alongside the growth of department stores who had the need to regularly renew their stock – and get rid of leftover items.

Simon Mannoury, who founded the first Parisian department store “Petit Saint-Thomas” in 1830, came up with the idea.

Funnily enough, this department store actually is the ancestor for the famous department store Le Bon Marché. His goal was to sell off the previous season’s unsold stock in order to replace it with new products.

In order to do this, Mannoury offered heavy discounts to sell as much merchandise as possible in a limited time.

The soldes start at different times depending on where you live – The sales start at the same time across most of mainland France, but there are exceptions for overseas France and certain départements, usually those along the border.

France’s finance ministry allows for the sales to start at different times based on local economies and tourist seasons. 

For the summer 2022 sales only two parts of metropolitan France have different dates; Alpes-Maritimes sales run from July 6th to August 2nd, while on the island of Corsica they run from July 13th to August 9th.

In France’s overseas territories the sales are held later in the year.

You might qualify for a tax rebate – If you are resident outside the EU, you might be eligible for a tax rebate on your sales purchases.

If you spend at least €100 in one store, then you qualify. You should hold onto your receipt and tell the cashier you plan to use a tax rebate so they can give you the necessary documentation (a duty-free slip).

Then when you are leaving you can find the kiosk at the station or airport dedicated to tax rebates (détaxe) and file prior to leaving France. For more information read HERE

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