SHARE
COPY LINK
For members

LIVING IN FRANCE

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

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.

Bikes, gig tickets and holidays: Seven things the French government might pay for
The French government might pay for both your bike and your cycling holiday. Photo: Guillaume Souvant/AFP

Culture

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

President Emmanuel Macron announced earlier this year that teenagers in France will receive €300 when they turn 18 to spend on as they like on cultural products such as books, video games or festival tickets.

Full details of the pass culture are available HERE.

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 75 percent of reservation costs (capped at €200).

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

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

Language classes or driving lessons

If you’re an employee in France the government has earmarked up to €800 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.

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.

Cross-border Covid tests

France will reimburse its residents (who are registered in the French health sytem) who have to get Covid-19 tests while travelling in the EU for costs up to €50. 

Anyone who has to get a PCR or antigen test for medical reasons (presence of Covid-19 symptoms) or administrative reasons (when they are mandatory to enter or leave an EU state), will be able to claim back money up to €50.

Meanwhile, 27 percent of the cost of tests taken outside of the EU is covered – but only if it is taken for medical reasons, not just to get back across the border.

Home improvements

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

A scheme for €1 home insulation and boiler replacement schemes will end on July 1st, six months earlier than planned. 

But other government grants and help are still available through the MaPrimeRénov website.

These grants have replaced income tax credits which used to be offered for eco-friendly home improvement work.

An electric bike

Propelled by a combination of people abandoning public transport during the pandemic and government financial aid, the market for bicycles jumped in 2020 by 25 percent, according to Union Sport & Cycle. 

More than 500,000 new electric bikes hit the streets in 2020 – a year-on-year rise in sales of 29 percent, meaning one in five new bikes on French roads are electric.

That jump is set to continue after MPs voted in April 2021 in favour of a measures to encourage people to buy bicycles as part of the new Climate Bill.

The amendments include incentives – similar to the bonuses available for swapping an older car for an electric or hybrid vehicle – for anyone who wants to swap a polluting vehicle for an electric bike.

Grants of up to €1,000 are available for buying a new electric bike – details here – while you can also claim up to €50 towards the cost of bike repairs, and several local authorities including those in Paris are offering their own incentives to cyclists.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
For members

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.

SHOW COMMENTS