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What changes about life in France in March 2020

Elections, price hikes for cigarettes, the start of summertime and a fight against the patriarchy are just some of the things going on in France in March.

What changes about life in France in March 2020
There's a lot set to change in March 2020. Photos: AFP

Gas prices

Gas prices continue to drop in March, as they did in February.

The total decrease will be 4.6 percent, 4.8 percent for households depending on gas for heating, 1.2 percent for those using gas for cooking, and 2.70 percent for homes ticking both boxes.

Since January 2019, gas prices have dropped on average 18.6 percent, according to the French Energy Regulation Commission (CRE).


We will officially be entering summer territory – at least time wise. Prepare to put your clocks forward on March 29th, towards summertime (meaning everyone gets one hour less sleep that night).

International Women’s Day

Sunday, March 8th is the day where people all over the world celebrate the fight to achieve a gender equal world. 

French feminist groups have called for a day of protest marches in several French cities. In Paris, the main march will leave from Place d'Italie at 2pm. Organisers are also planning a “giant picnic” from before the march, but that is yet to be confirmed.

Young female football players were wearing T-shirts saying allez les filles (come on, girls) on the Women's Day last year. Photo: AFP


In another push to make smoking a more expensive habit the government is raising the price of a regular 20-cigarette pack to €10 on March 1st. This is the culmination of a three-year plan including gradual price rises to hit the goal of €10 per pack.


March is also the month where France elects a new crop of local public officials. The municipal elections will be held in two rounds, on March 15th and March 22nd (both Sundays).

Remember that, unlike in the presidential elections, European Union citizens living in France have the right to vote in local elections.

READ MORE: What you need to know about France's (very complicated) municipal elections

In Paris, the race to the Mayor’s seat has been anything but boring, kicking off with a sex-scandal involving a close aide of the President, a young French law student and a Russian artist most famous for nailing his scrotum on the Red Square in Moscow.

Read about the five different candidates' plans for the capital here.

Mayor Anne Hidalgo is running for re-election in Paris for the Socialist Party. Photo: AFP

Moped driver’s licence

Also changing this month are the rules for passing a driver's licence for mopeds.

Whereas candidates until now have had to undergo an oral exam, this will be scrapped on March 18th and replaced with a questionnaire containing 40 questions about driving a moped. 

These changes will be accompanied by an 10-minute extension of the practical driver’s test (from 30 to 40 minutes), along with stricter rules for how many points the candidate must get to pass (21/27 instead of 17/21) what candidates can wear when passing the test.


Pension reform

We still don’t know what exactly is happening to the government’s plans to radically overhaul the French pension system – the plan that had unions take mass-strike action in December and early January.

READ ALSO: Are there really 'no strikes any more in France'? Not quite

The government wants to have the whole bill read through in Parliament before the municipal elections mid-March.

But the opposition has been sending in thousands of amendment requests, causing severe delays to the hearings. We should know in the first couple of weeks of March whether the government will choose to force the legislation through, bypassing Parliament with the infamous article 49.3 in the French constitution.



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France to roll out ID cards app

Technology is being rolled out to allow people to carry their French ID cards in an app form - and could be rolled out to other cards, including driving licences and cartes de séjour residency cards.

France to roll out ID cards app

Holders of French carte d’identité (ID cards) will soon be able to carry certified digital versions of them on their smartphone or other electronic devices, a decree published in the Journal Officiel has confirmed.

An official app is being developed for holders of the newer credit card-format ID cards that have information stored on a chip. A provisional test version of the app is expected at the end of May.

Users will be able to use the ID card app, when it becomes available, for a range of services “from checking in at the airport to renting a car”, according to Thierry Breton, EU Commissioner for the Internal Market.

All French citizens have an ID card, which can be used for proving identity in a range of circumstances and for travel within the EU and Schengen zone – the new app will be in addition to the plastic card that holders already have.

Under the plans, after downloading the app, card holders will need merely to hold the card close to their phone to transfer the required information. According to officials, the holder then can decide what information is passed on – such as proof of age, or home address – according to the situation.

The government has not given any examples of situations in which the app would need to be used, but has set out the main principles and the ambition of the plan: to allow everyone to identify themselves and connect to certain public and private organisations, in particular those linked to the France Connect portal.

READ ALSO What is France Connect and how could it make your life simpler?

Cards will continue to be issued for the foreseeable future – this is merely an extension of the existing system.

Only French citizens have ID cards, but if successful the app is expected to be rolled out to include other cards, such as driving licences, cartes de séjour residency cards or even visas. A digital wallet is being developed at the European level – Member States have until September to agree what it could contain.

READ ALSO Eight smartphone apps that make life in France a bit easier