For members


France Facts: The government might pay for your spa days

The French healthcare system is acknowledged as one of the best in the world, but did you know that in some circumstances the French government will even reimburse spa days?

France Facts: The government might pay for your spa days
Photo: AFP

If life is getting a bit much, you may fancy a relaxing day at the spa to ease all your cares away – but wouldn't it be even better if the government would pay for it?

Well, in certain circumstances the French government will.

But before you rush off to book a day in the steam bath with a mani/pedi treatment, you should know that there are some limits to the government's generosity.

Firstly, you need to claim the reimbursement through your carte vitale, so you will obviously need to be registered within the French healthcare system first, either as a worker in France paying in to the system or as a pensioner through the S1 system.

READ ALSO How to get a carte vitale in France and why you need one

Secondly you can't just decide to skip work and head straight to the spa, you will need a prescription for a cure thermal (spa treatment) from a doctor, so you will need to convince them of your need first.

And thirdly you will need to be suffering from one of the 12 conditions that the French system recognises as being treatable by spa treatments. Sadly 'feeling a bit tired and fed up with the winter weather' is not one of these, but digestive disorders, skin conditions, gynecological issues and rheumatism are all on the list.

For some of the other surprising things that the French government might reimburse you for – click here.


Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
For members


France Facts: Paris once had a ‘strike square’

The French have something of an international reputation for being fond of a strike - but did you know that Paris once had a Place de Grève (strike square)?

France Facts: Paris once had a 'strike square'

But in this case the French did not name the square after one of their favourite activities, in fact it was the other way round.

The Place de Grève, in central Paris next to the Seine, was the place where unemployed workers gathered, seeking casual labour.

Over time grève came to signify a group of people who were not working.

After the French won the right to strike in 1864 – 20 years before they won the right to form a union – the word attached itself to workers who were choosing to without their labour, rather than people who were unable to find work.

These days the French are quite fond of une grève, and between 2010 and 2017, the number of French strike days was 125 per 1,000 employees, according to a study by the European Trade Union Institute.

As a comparison, the UK, Germany and Sweden had 20, 17 and 3 respectively. 

The Place de Grève still exists, but in 1802 it was renamed the Place de l'Hôtel de Ville and houses the very impressive city hall of Paris.

The square's other claim to fame is that it used to be where public executions took place, and saw the first public use of the guillotine when robber Nicolas Jacques Pelletier was executed on April 25th, 1792.

And France has seen one or two strikes since 1864.