What changes about life in France in August 2020?

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

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?


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.. 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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