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LIVING IN FRANCE

What changes about life in France in August 2020?

August is perhaps the sleepiest month of all in France, with cities and towns sedated by the summer holiday feeling. Still, there are some important changes and events to look out for.

What changes about life in France in August 2020?
Photo: AFP/photojoiner

Last weeks of summer sales

The annual summer sales will close on August 11th, marking the end of what was a shorter and later sales period than usual. Bargain hunters in France only got four weeks of sales this year, pushed by the government from the end of June to mid July in order to ease the blow of the negative economic impact of the coronavirus on retailers.

Watch out for holiday traffic..

August is the traditional main holiday month in France, where cities and towns empty as people go away on holiday. This year, with the coronavirus pandemic still at large, most French are opting for staycations rather than going abroad, and the majority are going away by car. That means increased traffic on the roads, perhaps even more than usual.

Bison Futé, the government-run side that monitors traffic levels in France, has placed the whole country on 'black alert' (the highest level) for those leaving to go on holiday on August 1st (this Saturday) or August 8th, and on 'red' (the second highest) alert for people coming back from holiday on August 8th, 14th, 15th or 16th, or the last weekend of 28th, 29th or 30th.

Juilletistes vs Aoûtiens: Do France's two summer holiday tribes still exist?

 

.. and public transport closures …

If you live in Paris, transport will run less smoothly than usual in August as authorities take advantage of lower passenger numbers to do works on the city's Metro and train routes. As a result, many lines will be running with limited services or stations closed.

… and some shop closures

Many small, independently owned businesses close up for the month of August, so don't rely on a particular shop being open. Likewise if you're dealing with an official or someone in an office don't be surprised if you get an out-of-office reply telling you that they will be back in September.

 

More mandatory face-masks in public

An increasing number of French towns and cities have imposed rules on wearing masks in certain outdoors areas, in addition to the general rule that requires people to wear masks inside in public spaces.

With coronavirus rates on the rise, August could see more local authorities jumping on the trend.

READ MORE: These are the French towns making masks compulsory outdoors

 

Electricity prices increase

As of August 1st, electricity will get pricier in France. Private households will see their electricity bills increase by 1.54 percent and professionals 1.58 percent.

The price hike was proposed by the French Energy Regulatory Commission (CRE) in July and “takes into account the annual change in prices of public electricity transmission and distribution networks,” according to a CRE press statement.

Gas prices increase

For the first time in months, gas prices in France will increase rather than drop. On August 1st French households will see their a price hike of 1.3 percent on average, according to the CRE.

The increase will be 0.3 percent for households depending on gas for cooking, 1.4 percent for those using gas for heating, and 1.4 percent for homes using gas for both purposes.

New law clamps down on nuisance phone calls 

A recent law seeking to “better protect consumers” from “abusive, fraudulent and overpriced calls” entered into force on July 25th. The goal of the law is to decrease the number of nuisance calls – a common plague for people with landlines.

The law has tightened the rules on both what types of calls are allowed as well to the days and hours where such calls can be made, and introduced steep fines for callers breaking the rules (between €75,000 for individuals and €375,000 for companies).

Assumption holiday

August has one public holiday, Assumption Day on August 15th, which is a Christian holiday that celebrates the assumption of Virgin Mary. This year, August 15th is a Saturday, so no perks of getting a day off work this year.

Tour de France kicks off

The highly anticipated annual bike ride across France was feared cancelled due to the health crisis, but as it stands the Tour de France will begin on August 29th and last until September 20th.

It's a massive event with 21 start towns, 21 finish lines and more than 3,000km of route – a highlight for both French sports enthusiasts and people living in areas where the cyclists pass. 

Last round of tax surplus refunds

This is the last period of tax refunds for those who paid too much taxes for 2019. As of August 7th, the taxman might have a nice surprise going into your bank account.

READ ALSO Income tax 2020: Who gets a rebate?

You can pay your bills at the tabac

The iconic French tabac (tobacco shop) has long been a place for more than just purchasing cigarettes. Recently, paying bills, fines and even taxes have been added to the list of services that tobacconists offer.

 
Buyers of less-polluting cars to get grants
 
As of August 3rd, the government is giving out 200,000 primes à la conversion (conversion grants) to people who want to get a more environment-friendly car.
 
Anyone wanting to buy a vehicle that falls into the category of Crit'air 1 or 2 (Crit'air is the official emission standard for cars in France) can get a grant of between €1,500 and €3,000.
 
Future buyers of electric cars can get even larger grants of between €2,500 and €5,000, depending on their income situation.
 
Coronavirus support schemes continue to be phased out
 
France's public help schemes set up in March when Covid-19 hit the country with full force, imposing a two month-long strict, nationwide lockdown, will continue to be phased out.
 
Chômage partiel (partial unemployment), France's furloughing scheme has been split up in two different schemes (details here), while the grant scheme for self-employed who saw their incomes slashed during the lockdown continues to exist throughout 2020, but only for people who are in the restaurant or tourism sectors (the sectors hardest hit by the virus). 
Back to school allowance pay-day
 
As of August 18th, more than 3 million French will receive the government back-to-school allowance, ARS, of roughly €500 per child. The ARS scheme was set up to help low-income families pay for their children's education. This year the allowance has been raised by €100.
 
 
 

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LIVING IN FRANCE

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

Strikes

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.

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