For members


What changes about life in France in September 2020?

Masks and other Covid-19 rules will be key in the month to come, but there will also be also strikes and price changes to look out for.

What changes about life in France in September 2020?
All photos: AFP

La rentrée

September 1st is the day some 12 million school pupils will return to classrooms across France for what's known in French as la rentrée scolaire (to read more about the cultural phenomenon that is la rentrée, click here).

Reopening schools will be different this year, especially seeing as teachers and pupils over 11 years old (in secondary and high school) will be masked. We took a look at both the general changes in schools in France this September and the anti-coronavirus health plan set in place.

Masks become compulsory in the workplace

September is also when many people return to work after a summer holiday. This year, anyone working in a shared indoor workplace will need to wear a mask from September 1st. We have explained the rules on wearing masks in workplaces here.

No large gatherings yet

Gatherings of more than 5,000 people were supposed to be allowed as of August 15th, but a surge in the number of new coronavirus cases in France saw the government push back the date to October.

Additional rules limiting gatherings in public can be made in France's 21 “red zones”, which have been identified as particularly vulnerable due to the high number of cases confirmed in the area.

In Bouches-du-Rhône, the Marseille area, local authorities banned public gatherings of more than 10 people after a Covid-19 spike last week.

Strikes are back

The 5,000 person-limit on does not affect demos, and the hardline worker's union CGT has called on people to take to the streets across the country on Thursday, September 17th, in a what a “general strike” to “condemn the government's social policies,” the union wrote in a statement.

Worker's unions FSU and Solidaires have declared their support of the protest, which could mean some schools or public transport will be affected.

.. and so are the 'yellow vests'

The 'yellow vest' movement, which saw its heyday in the winter of 2018/2019 when thousands of protesters took to the streets across France to protest the government's policies, has been out of the public eye for quite a while.

On September 12th, the movement will try and make a comeback.

One of the social movement's main public figures, Jérôme Rodrigues, told Slate that “Covid has been our best ally,” by spotlighting inequalities and proving the 'yellow vest's' claims on the “degrading of the health system and the limits of the capitalist system.”

Previous attempts to reignite the movement have resulted only in sparse numbers.

.. and hunting season

This is the month the French hunting season kicks off, which means that people living in rural areas do well to watch out for people with guns.

READ ALSO: How to get through the hunting season in France without being shot

In most areas, the season begins in mid September and lasts until sometime in February. The rules vary however so check the French National Federation of Hunter's website for details about your area.

Cigarette prices increase (but not all of them)

Continuing the government’s aim to reach a goal of an average price of €10 for a pack of cigarettes in France before the end of the year, some brands will see the price of their 20-packs increase by €0.10 in September, from €9.20 to €9.30. A few packs currently set at €9.60 will on the contrary decrease to €9.40.

Gas prices increase (slightly)

Gas prices in France will rise for the second month in a row, following months of steady decrease. On September 1st French households will see a slight price hike of 0.6 percent on average, according to French utility multinational Engie.

The increase will be 0.2 percent for households depending on gas for cooking, 0.7 percent for those using gas for heating, and 0.4 percent for homes using gas for both purposes.

Partial unemployment benefits scheme narrows

France’s chômage partiel (partial unemployment) furloughing scheme, which was ramped up in March to avoid mass layoffs during the nationwide lockdown, will continue to be gradually phased out.

Domestic workers working for private employers – cleaners, gardeners, carpenters, babysitters, teaching assistants – will no longer be able to access the scheme as of September 1st, according to a decree published in the French online legal portal Journal Officiel. The scheme will be maintained in French overseas territories of French Guinea and Mayotte for these workers until the end of the health state of emergency (a date not yet set).

France will divide its furloughing scheme in two in October and continue cut down on the financial support in the months to come.

READ MORE: What you need to know about France's crisis unemployment scheme

New 'junior' transport pass children in Paris

Children aged between 4 and 11 in the greater Paris region Ile-de-France will, as of September 1st, be able to travel on a new 'junior pass'. The pass will cost €24 and can be used on all types of public transport in the region.

Cannabis smokers face €200 fine

As of September 1st, a person caught with less than 10 grammes of cocaine or 100 grammes of cannabis will be fined €200 instead of being arrested – if they admit to the offense and are more than 18 years old. This new rule has been tested in several French cities already, including Rennes, Lille and Marseille, and will now be made national. 

Using narcotics in France is illegal as of a 1970 law and offenders face a fine of €3,750 and up to one year in prison, but this law is rarely enforced because of all the administrative work required. The goal of the new law is to make it easier for police to sanction cannabis smokers and cocaine users without going through all the administrative work currently in place. 

If the fine is paid before 15 days it can drop to €150, and if paid later it can increase up to €450 .


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For members


Timbre fiscal: Everything you need to know about France’s finance stamps

If you're doing a French admin task, you might be asked to provide a 'timbre fiscale' - here's what these are and how to get them.

Timbre fiscal: Everything you need to know about France's finance stamps

In France, you can buy  a very particular kind of stamp to cover the cost of a titre de séjour, or French passport, to pay your taxes, get an ID card if you’re eligible, or pay for your driving licence.

Basically a timbre fiscale is a way of paying a fee to the government, and some online processes – such as the tax offices – now have the more modern method of a bank transfer or card payment.

However there are plenty of official tasks that still demand a timbre fiscale.

In the pre-internet days, this was a way of sending money safely and securely to the government and involved an actual physical stamp – you bought stamps to the value of the money you owned, stuck them onto a card and posted them to government office.

They could be used for anything from paying your taxes to fees for administrative processes like getting a new passport or residency card.

These days the stamps are digital. You will receive, instead, either a pdf document with a QR code that can be scanned from a phone or tablet, or an SMS with a unique 16-digit figure. Both will be accepted by the agency you are dealing with.

Once you have the code you need, you can add this to any online process that requires timbre fiscaux (the plural) and that will complete your dossier.

You can buy them from a properly equipped tabac, at your nearest trésorerie, or online

Paper stamps remain available in France’s overseas départements, but have been gradually phased out in mainland France.