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Living in France For Members

Bikes, gig tickets and holidays: 7 things the French government might pay for

James Harrington
James Harrington - [email protected]
Bikes, gig tickets and holidays: 7 things the French government might pay for
The French government might pay for both your bike and your cycling holiday. Photo: Guillaume Souvant/AFP

Living in France does have its drawbacks, among them a hefty tax bill for most people. But there are also plenty of perks, including the free stuff that the French government give you. Here's a roundup of just some of the things that you may be entitled to claim.

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Culture

If you're a teenager, the government could be funding your books, films, music or video games, thanks to the new culture pass.

France launched the pass culture in 2021, which gives teenagers living in France a credit of €300 when they turn 18 to spend on as they like on cultural products such as books, video games or festival tickets. Those aged 15-18 can also benefit from smaller sums.

Holiday vouchers

Based on the notion that holidays are essential, the French holiday voucher system - known as chèques vacances - was launched in 1982 by then-President Francois Mitterrand. Millions have benefited from the scheme ever since.

Run by the Agence nationale des chèques-vacances (ANCV) the scheme offers help with paying for holidays for four main groups; young adults, people with disabilities, older people and families, especially single-parent families.

One such scheme, Départ 18:25 was launched in 2014 to help 18-25-year-olds have a summer vacation, providing vouchers that cover up to 80 percent of reservation costs (capped at €250, as of 2024).

Beneficiaries can choose between 10,000 destinations across France and internationally, with reservations made through the Les Stations sites. The site allows visitors to test their eligibility and simulate the total cost of trips taking the ANVC voucher into account.  

This particular scheme scheme is open to French residents aged 18-25 making a net salary of less than €17,280 per year.

It’s also open to students working on apprenticeships, civic service volunteers, those benefiting from special aid contracts (often given to handicapped people, for example), “second-chance” schools that offer another shot to those that had difficulties in school, beneficiaries of the Youth Guarantee initiative and those receiving social aid within their families. 

ANCV also offers a holiday voucher scheme for small businesses

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Spa treatments

Yep, really. If you're registered in the French health system and hold a carte vitale you might be able to get a cure thermale (treatment at a spa) on prescription - and have all or part of the cost of the stay reimbursed by l’Assurance Maladie.

The health system has tightened up the rules on this a bit recently so unfortunately it's no longer possible to argue that you're tired and stressed and really fancy a spa day. There are now 12 eligible categories listed by the health service, which includes digestive disorders, skin conditions, gynecological issues and rheumatism. 

It must also be prescribed by a GP or specialist.

READ ALSO Five surprising things available on your French health insurance

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Language classes or driving lessons

If you're an employee in France the government has earmarked hundreds of euro a year for you to spend on training. This is for your further professional development so can include vocational training or language classes or driving lessons.

However, the French finance minister announced in early 2024 that the government would be 'tightening its belt'. One of the changes will be the way the €500 annual budget for classes for employees is distributed. That being said, the Mon CPF scheme still offers great opportunities for cut-price classes, including French lessons.

READ MORE: Mon CPF: What changes with France's €500-a-year training budget

The self-employed, too, can access the compte personnel de formation (CPF) by paying into the scheme via their social charges.

The money is available by setting up and accessing a personal online account and can be used to finance any approved training relevant to your work, including:

  • Additional qualifications
  • Skills training
  • Skills assessment
  • Driver’s licence
  • Setting up a business
  • Training needed for people volunteering or working in civil service
  • French language courses are accepted for foreign employees and if you need to drive for your work you can claim the cost of driving lessons and tests.

Home improvements

If you're planning some building work then think about energy efficiency - if the work will make your home more energy efficient then the government might help you with the costs.

There are several government grants and help available through the MaPrimeRénov website. You may also be able to qualify for interest-free loans if you are a first-time home buyer.

For seniors and people with mobility issues, there are plenty of targeted schemes to help make your home more accessible.

READ MORE: GUIDE: French property grants you might be eligible for

Buying a bicycle

The French government has extended the grant (bonus vélo) available to those looking to purchase bicycles to 2027, in an effort to encourage non-polluting transport options.

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Previously, the aid was only available to those buying new bikes, but in 2024 authorities opened it up to second-hand bicycles under certain conditions. To qualify government assistance for the purchase of a used bicycle, it must be sold from a 'professional seller' not from an individual.

Standard bikes, electric bikes, cargo bikes and those adapted for people with a disability are all covered by the scheme. You may be eligible for a grant of up to €2,000, depending on your situation.

READ MORE: Explained: The financial aid to buy a bike in France

Leasing or purchasing an electric car

In 2023, the French government announced an electric car leasing scheme that would allow households to lease an electric car for a maximum of €150 monthly, excluding insurance and other optional services. 

The programme was so popular that French government announced in mid-February that it was suspending the scheme, one month after subsidising more than double the number of vehicles planned for 2024.

However, the French government expects to relaunch it at the end of 2024 for 2025.

This is not the only programme intended to encourage motorists in France to shift toward electric vehicles.

Households can also benefit from the bonus écologique, which gives up to €7,000 in assistance when purchasing an electric vehicle costing less than €47,000. 

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