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VACCINE

Why the holiday weekend could be the perfect time to find a vaccine appointment in France

If you're over 18, live in France, and have not yet checked to see if you can book a last-minute Covid-19 vaccination, this weekend might be a good time to do it.

Why the holiday weekend could be the perfect time to find a vaccine appointment in France
Photo: Geoffroy van der Hasselt/AFP

All over-18s in France can now book a Covid-19 vaccination – if they can find a vacant slot within the next 24 hours.

READ ALSO How to book a last-minute Covid-19 vaccination appointment

However sky-high demand in certain areas has lead to booking sites crashing as under 50s scramble to secure a last-minute slot.

So if you’re one of the people who has been disappointed in your quest, this weekend could be a good time to try. 

Thursday marked Ascension, a much-loved public holiday in France and many families have decided to faire le pont by booking a day’s holiday on Friday to create a long weekend and head off on a short break.

But, although many towns and cities may well be quieter than usual, there is no let-up in the country’s vaccination programme.

As President Emmanuel Macron said: “There are no weekends and holidays for vaccination.”

 

Many – but not all – vaccination centres will remained open on Thursday and will be open throughout the weekend. But, because people are away for a few days, more spare slots than usual may be available. 

“We were warned that we should remain open for Ascension and Pentecost, so we mobilised accordingly,” Bernard Pfister, a doctor at the vaccination centre in Molsheim (Bas-Rhin) told Francetvinfo.  “We will be operational, including Sunday, which is usually a closed day.”  

In nearby Strasbourg, a vaccination centre that had closed over the Easter weekend will remain open – because it has enough doses of vaccine available to do so.

But on the other side of the coin, one vaccination centre in Mayenne will only open for three days next week, one local GP claimed, because of a lack of doses.

Another, in Indre-et-Loire, said it was impossible to remain open seven days a week, as medics used up all their available doses in six.

And he pointed out that those running vaccination centres needed a break. It was important, he said, “that the professionals get to rest. This also applies to the retirees and volunteers. 

“We embarked on a marathon, not a sprint.” 

There are lots of local variations, but in general the large ‘vaccinedromes’ hosted in sports stadiums and expo centres tend to be open for longer hours.

To help you find a slot, you can try the ChronoDoses site, which searches for all available next-day slots in your area – find out more here.

Some 18.5 million people have received one Covid-19 vaccine dose and another 8.2 million have had two, according to official figures. The government has set a target of 20 million first doses by Saturday, May 15th, although experts think it is more likely that the 20 million figure will be hit on Monday, May 17th, because of the holiday effect.

The 24-hour rule applies only to people who are under 50 and have no medical conditions.

The following groups can book appointments for any time:

  • Over 50s
  • Under 50s with a medical condition, including severe asthma, diabetes or a BMI of over 30 – find the full list here
  • Under 50s who are close contacts of a person with a compromised immune system
  • Healthcare workers
  • People aged 16 and 17 with severe health conditions including cancer or transplant patients.

Find the full details on vaccine eligibility HERE.

 

 

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PROPERTY

Plumbing Emergencies in France: Who to call and what to say

Plumbing ermergencies are common in France, so here's our guide to what to do, who to call and the phrases you will need if water starts gushing in unexpected areas.

Plumbing Emergencies in France: Who to call and what to say

How do I find a reliable plumber and avoid getting scammed?

First, try to stick with word-of-mouth if you can. Contact trusted individuals or resources, like your neighbours and friends, or foreigner-oriented Facebook groups for your area (ex. “American Expats in Paris”). This will help you find a more reliable plumber. If this is not an option for you, try “Pages Jaunes” (France’s ‘Yellow Pages’) to see reviews and plumbers (plomberie) in your area. 

Next, educate yourself on standard rates. If the situation is not an emergency, try to compare multiple plumbers to make sure the prices are in the correct range. 

Finally, always Google the name of the plumber you’ll be working with – this will help inform you as to whether anyone else has had a particularly positive (or negative) experience with them – and check that the company has a SIRET number.

This number should be on the work estimate (devis). You can also check them out online at societe.com. If you want to be extra careful you can also ask to see their carte artisan BTP (craftsman card). 

READ MORE: What is a SIRET number and why is it crucial when hiring French tradesmen?

Who is responsible for paying for work?

If you own the property, you are typically the one who is responsible for financing the plumbing expenses.

However if you’re in a shared building, you must determine the cause and location of the leak. If you cannot find the origin of the leak, you may need a plumber to come and locate it and provide you with an estimate. You can use this estimate when communicating with insurance, should the necessity arise. 

If you are a renter, the situation is a bit more complicated. Most of the time, water damage should be the landlord’s responsibility, but there are exceptions.

The landlord is obliged to carry out major repairs (ex. Natural disaster, serious plumbing issues) that are necessary for the maintenance and normal upkeep of the rented premises (as per, Article 6C of the law of July 6, 1989). The tenant, however, is expected to carry out routine maintenance, and minor repairs are also to be paid by the tenant. If the problem is the result of the tenant failing to maintain the property, then it will be the tenant’s responsibility to cover the cost of the repair.

Legally speaking, it is also the tenant’s responsibility to get the boiler serviced once a year, as well as to maintain the faucets and joints, and to avoid clogging the pipes.

READ MORE: Assurance habitation: How to get home insurance in France

If you end up in dispute with your landlord over costs, you can always reach out to ADIL, the national Housing Association which offers free legal advice for housing issues in France. 

What happens if the leak is coming from my neighbour’s property?

Both you and your neighbour should contact your respective housing insurance companies and file the ‘sinistre’ (damage) with them.

If you both agree on the facts you can file an amiable (in a friendly fashion), then matters are much more simple and you will not have to go through the back-and-forth of determining fault.

If having a friendly process is not possible, be sure to get an expert to assert where the leak is coming from and file this with your insurance company.

As always, keep evidence (lists and photographs) of the damage. Keep in mind that many insurance providers have a limited number of days after the start of the damage that you can file. Better to do it sooner than later, partially because, as with most administrative processes in France, it might take a bit of time.

Vocab

Plumbing has its own technical vocabulary so here are some words and phrases that you’re likely to need;

Hello, I have a leak in my home. I would like to request that a plumber come to give me an estimate of the damage and cost for repairs – Bonjour, j’ai une fuite chez moi. Je voudrais demander qu’un plombier vienne me donner une estimation des dégâts et du coût de la réparation. 

It is an emergency: C’est une urgence

I have no hot water: Je n’ai pas d’eau chaude

The boiler has stopped working: La chaudière ne fonctionne plus.

I cannot turn my tap off: Je ne peux pas arrêter le robinet.

The toilet is leaking: Mes toilettes fuient.

The toilet won’t flush/ is clogged: Mes toilettes sont bouchées

There is a bad smell coming from my septic tank: Il y a un mauvaise odeur provenant de ma fosse septique

I would like to get my electricity / boiler safety checked: Je souhaiterais une vérification de la sécurité de mon installation électrique / de ma chaudière

I can smell gas: Ca sent le gaz

My washing machine has broken: Ma machine a laver est cassée

Can you come immediately? Est-ce que vous pouvez venir tout de suite?

When can you come? Quand est-ce que vous pouvez venir?

How long will it take? Combien de temps cela prendra-t-il ?

How much do you charge? Quels sont vos prix? / Comment cela va-t-il coûter?

How can I pay you? Comment je peux vous payer ? 

Here are the key French vocabulary words for all things plumbing-related:

Dishwasher – Lave vaisselle

Bath – Baignoire

Shower – Douche

Kitchen Sink – Évier

Cupboard – Placard

Water meter – Compteur d’eau

The Septic Tank – La fosse septique

A leak – Une fuite

Bathroom sink – Le lavabo

The toilet – La toilette

Clogged – Bouché

To overflow – Déborder

A bad smell – Une mauvaise odeur

The flexible rotating tool used to unclog a pipe (and also the word for ferret in French) – Furet 

Water damage – Dégât des eaux

The damage – Le sinistre

And finally, do you know the French phrase Sourire du plombier? No, it’s not a cheerful plumber, it’s the phrase used in French for when a man bends down and his trouser waistband falls down, revealing either his underwear or the top of his buttocks. In Ebglish it’s builder’s bum, in French ‘plumber’s smile’.

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