Who are ‘Les Restos du Cœur’ and why are they collecting in French supermarkets?

Starting this week, white signs with red hearts titled "Les Restos du Cœur" will pop up all over French supermarkets. Every December the association launches a national campaign to collect donations for those in need.

Who are 'Les Restos du Cœur' and why are they collecting in French supermarkets?
Restos du cœur's annual winter campaign collects gifts for people in need. Photo: AFP

Who are the Restos du Cœur?

In 1985, the French comedian known as Coluche announced live on TV that he “had a little idea.” Coluche wanted to create a restaurant for the poor, and thus was born Les Restos du Cœur (restaurants of the heart).

Although Coluche died only two years later, Restos du cœur lived on. Over the years, it grew into a big association that today numbers 73,000 volunteers and has supplemented its meal distribution with a long list of services.


What do they want?

For their 35th winter campaign, the Restos du Cœur are directing their focus on student poverty, after a young man set himself on fire in Lyon on November 8th to protest the authorities removing his €450 grant.

Young people account for more than half (51 percent) of those benefiting from the restaurant's services. Last year Restos du cœur hosted 900,000 persons of 26 years old or younger. Of those, 24,000 were students (12 percent of the total), a number that according to the association is growing.

READ ALSO: Why are French students smashing down the education ministry's gates?

Other groups benefiting from the association's help are homeless, unemployed or people with low-income.

The vast majority of people receiving help from Restos du Cœur are people from 26-60, many of whom are unemployed. Seniors (people above 60) account for 6 percent of the beneficiaries.

Forty-two percent of the people receiving help are singles without children, whereas 25 percent are single parents. Couples with children make up for 24 percent of the total.

Who can access the help?

While anyone can benefit from a hot meal in one of the Restos du Cœur centers, the association's policy is strict when it comes to receiving regular food packages. Beneficiaries must sign up every year to justify their financial status.

The association uses the documentation received to identify the needs of the person who signs up, whether it's housing, work, training, health assistance or other.

How you can contribute

Opération paquets cadeaux, or operation gifts, is an annual event were Restos du Cœur put up stands in supermarkets all over the country (find the one closest to you here). You can wrap and give away a gift at the exit, or contribute with a financial donation.

These are the products most needed

  • Cereal, oatmeal and other dry-foods
  • Canned meat, fish,vegetables and fruit
  • Oil
  • Rice
  • Pasta
  • Hygienic items (tampons, sanitary pads)
  • Baby formula
You can also donate online here.

Member comments

  1. It’s a shame (and French friends are amazed when I tell them of it) that the idea, in the UK, of a ‘communal’ food bank doesn’t appear. If, for example, I need one pot of Greek yogurt to make a marinade, I would, myself, find a way to use/eat the other three, but the alternative, in the UK, would be to put it into the communal fridge. Same thing with excess anything. So all those multi-buys get put to good use.

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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.