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What changes about life in France in January 2020

As we enter the new year, there are several changes that could impact your life in France.

What changes about life in France in January 2020
Photo: AFP

Minimum wage

France's minimum wage, or SMIC as it's called in French, is set to increase by 1.2 percent this January (following a 1.5 percent hike last year).  

For 2.3 million people, this €15 bump on their monthly pay-check amounts to a €173 annual salary increase.

The increase is the result of an annual automatic price adaptation based on the country's inflation level.

Income tax

Starting on January 1st, 17 million middle income households will see their income taxes decrease with amounts averaging €304 a year. The in total €5 billion income tax slash is part of President Emmanuel Macron's response to the 'yellow vest' protest movement last year.

Household tax

Starting in January, 80 percent of French households will be exempt from paying what is known as taxe d’habitation, the tax paid by householders. The remaining 20 percent will also see their tax phased out over the course of the next couple of years.

This tax is different from taxe foncière, which is paid by property owners. Read more about the two taxes and who pays them here.

Gas prices 

Gas prices will fall on average by 0.9 percent on January 1st, following a total decrease of about 12 percent over the course of 2019. 

The drop will be 0.1 percent for households depending on gas for heating, 0.2 percent for those using gas for cooking, and 0.5 percent for homes ticking both boxes.

As for electricity prices, they remain unchanged for January, but could increase in the coming months, according to Le Parisien


With no immediate solution in sight, French unions will continue their ongoing strike action in January.

The government and the unions, who exchanged bitter accusations over the holidays, resume talks on January 7th. The next big protest day falls on January 9th. 

Read all of our latest strike coverage here.

READ ALSO French strikers say 'If we give in now, we will have lost everything'

As we enter the new year, there is no immediate solution in sight for the strikes that have nearly paralysed France's public transport sector since December 5th 2019. Photo: AFP

Plastic ban plan: Q-tips and plastic cutlery

Following the government's effort to slim down domestic plastic consumption, Q-tips feature among the first items to be banned from store shelves. Plastic cups and plates also join the January 1st blacklist. More items will follow suit as the government implements its plastic ban plan.


Smoking gets slightly more expensive as the price of a regular 20-cigarette pack increases from €9,10 to €9,20. The French Health Ministry is working towards a set goal of €10 a pack. 

Smoking becomes a more expensive habit in France in 2020. Photo: AFP

Social security 

The social security pension cap will increase slightly, from €3,377 a month in 2019 to €3,428 in 2020. This pension concerns people on sick-leave, who have suffered a work accident or who are on maternity leave. The pension cap is calculated each year to set a fixed limit of maximum social services benefits.

Glasses and dentures

Starting January 2020, the reform known as 100 % santé ('100 percent health') enters into force, meaning certain kinds of glasses will be completely reimbursed by the French social security.


Starting January 1st, state refunds of homeopathic treatments will decrease from roughly 25-30 percent to 10-15 percent.


Following a justice reform enacted in March, the French justice sector will merge into one 'single door entry' system – a reorganisation effort that is contested by French lawyers and judges.


Could January 2020 be the month the United Kingdom finally exits the European Union? After British MPs overwhelmingly backed Boris Johnson's Brexit deal, things now look set for an exit on January 31st.

Although this is the fourth time that we have included Brexit in The Local's monthly round-up, so we'll see.



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France extends its winter sales as shops struggle with impact of 6pm curfew

France has extended its winter sales period by two weeks after a request from shops struggling with the loss of revenue due to the 6pm curfew.

France extends its winter sales as shops struggle with impact of 6pm curfew
Photo: AFP

The winter sales – pushed from their original start date at the beginning of January – had been due to end on Tuesday, February 16th.

However the French finance ministry has announced the extension of the sales period until March 2nd.

The decision “compensates for the impact of the 6pm curfew by allowing customers to spread out their purchases” and comes after a request from retailers, such a spokesman.

Retailers have reported the sales have been much less busy than usual as customers opt to avoid crowded places.

Also impacting on stores is the closure, from January 31st, of shopping centres and department stores more than 20,000 square metres and the 6pm curfew, which has curtailed the usually busy evening shopping period.

Sales in France are strictly regulated and the summer and winter sales take place on dates set by the government.