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LIVING IN FRANCE

What changes about life in France in October 2020?

From school holidays to gas prices rises - not to mention possible extra Covid-19 restrictions - there is a lot going on in France this month.

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

Paris stays up all night

The Nuit Blanche (sleepless night) will go ahead as planned in Paris on Saturday, October 3rd. This night sees museums and other cultural atractions stay open all night, along with other nocturnal activities in a scaled-down event – full article here.

At least for now, the health minister is set to make an announcement on Thursday evening and could announce new restrictions in Paris and several other cities.

Watch out for new Covid-19 rules

That leads us to the second point, this month could see local authorities bringing in new restrictive measures to stem the spread in their areas. 

The government has set up an alert scheme based on Covid-19 rates that decides what restrictions must be taken in an area that finds itself bumped up to a higher level of alert and these levels are revised weekly. We will of course be covering all the latest on health rules here.

EXPLAINED: How does France's new Covid-19 alert system work?

Those affected can get economic help

Businesses in the restaurant and tourism sector may access the government's help schemes set up in March to avoid mass unemployment and chain bankruptcies. 

The furlough scheme known as chomage partiel (partial unemployment) will be made fully available for all hospitality businesses until December 31st.

Businesses in the hospitality and tourism sectors will also be able to access the solidarity fund grant scheme until the end of the year. 

Schools take Toussaint holidays

This year's Toussaint school vacations begin on Saturday, October 17th and end on Sunday, November 1st, so schools in all zones in France return to class on Monday November 2nd.

The bad news here is that Toussaint itself, November 1st, falls on a Sunday this year so will not be a public holiday as it normally is.

Access the public holiday here

You can get help to renovate your home

A new grant of up to €20,000 per household features in the French government's relaunch plan set in place to help stimulate the economy reeling from the impact of Covid-19.

The government has set aside a total €2 billion for households, and the grants will cover renovations such as changing the heater or improving the insulation.

Only owners can access the scheme, so not those renting – and only for their first home, it's not available for second homeowners – and the building needs to be more than 2 years old.

Only work done from October 1st will be accepted (so applicants need a dévis signed as of that date). Applications cannot be sent in before January 1st, according to the government.

There is also a “resource limit” that checks that those applying for the grant do not exceed the wealth threshold.

For more information and to access the grant, go to MaPrimeRénov'. You can also call +33 (0) 8 08 800 700 if you have specific questions on the scheme.

READ ALSO From taxes to toilets: All you need to know about renovating a house in France

Gas prices spike

From October 1st gas prices will increase by 4.7 percent on average for French households, according to the French Energy Regulation Commission (CRE). Gas prices in France had steadily declined for months until they began rising in August, although at a slight level of 1.3 percent on average. 

This month the increase will be 1.2 percent for households depending on gas for cooking, 4.9 percent for those using gas for heating, and 2.6 percent for homes using gas for both purposes.

Don’t forget the property tax

There are two main types of property tax in France, taxe foncière which is paid by the building owner and taxe d'habitation which is paid by the person who lives in the building.

If you are among those who have to pay the taxe foncière, the deadline is October 15th.

READ ALSO


Brexit Carte de Séjour website goes live

At least it's supposed to, the website has been delayed several times and was supposed to launch on October 1st. 

The government has said the delay should be no longer than until “mid October”. More information here.

We enter winter time

The night between Saturday 24th and Sunday 25th will be one hour longer, meaning we get an extra hour of sleep, but lose an hour of sunlight in the evening.

At 3am on Saturday night, all clocks have to be turned back one hour, for what could be the last time (there's a big discussion on whether to abolish winter time once and for all in the EU).

Helpers can get paid leave

Those in charge of an elderly, sick or handicapped person (either family or someone close) will be able to access paid leave of absence of three months – which is renewable but cannot exceed one year – as of October 1st.

Previously, those finding themselves in this situation could ask for paid compensation from their work, but their employer was not obliged to acquiesce.

There are conditions attached to this scheme, one of them being that the person that is helped resides in France in a “stable and regular manner,” according to the government's website (where there are full details on the criteria).

The parliament gets citizen platform

France's Assemblée nationale on October 1st launched a new online petition website where citizens may request a public debate on issues that gather more than 500,000 signatures in at least 30 départements.

Those signing must be over 18 years old, either French or residing regularly in France.

This is the website.

 

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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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