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WHAT CHANGES IN FRANCE

What changes about life in France in August 2021

As a cool, wet July across most of France turns into what forecasters predict will be an equally cool, wet August - at least for the first couple of weeks - we look at what is set to change this month … which includes changes to the Covid-19 health pass, another gas price hike, and a public holiday.

What changes about life in France in August 2021
What changes in France in August 2021. Photo: Sameer Al-Doumy / AFP

Health pass extension

It has been at the top of the news agenda in France for some time. Since July 21st, the health pass has been mandatory for entry to cultural, sports and leisure venues hosting at least 50 people.

In August, MPs and senators have agreed, the pass will be mandatory in cafes, bars, and restaurants – including terraces – as well as for visitors to hospitals and retirement homes.

Shopping centres may also require the presentation of a pass, if required by departmental prefects because of local levels of Covid-19.

READ ALSO OPINION: Anti health passport protests will continue in France, but this is not a new ‘yellow vest’ moment

The health pass bill, though approved by MPs, is now being scrutinised by the powerful Conseil Constitutionnel. Its verdict is expected on August 5th.

The extension of the health pass is then expected to take effect on August 9th.

READ ALSO France set to enforce Covid health pass in bars, restaurants and trains from August 9th

Transport Minister Jean-Baptiste Djebbari also conceded that health pass checks on trains, though ‘massive’, may not be ‘systematic’, following a rejection of the plans from rail unions.

Gas prices to rise again

After July’s near 10 percent increase in regulated gas prices, they will increase again on August 1 by 5.3 percent. How the increase breaks down for cooking, heating or hot water have not yet been announced.

About 3.1million households will be affected by the increase to a tariff that is due to disappear on July 1, 2023.

Electricity prices are going up

Between 30 and 40 percent of everyone’s electricity bill goes towards a tax, known as the Tarif d’Utilisation des Réseaux Publics d’Électricité (TURPE), to help cover the cost of maintaining and modernising the electricity network, as well as the transition to renewable energy sources.

The level of this tax is adjusted annually. On August 1, it will increase between 0.97 percent and 1.57 percent, depending on tariffs.

Watch out for holiday traffic…

August is the traditional main holiday month in France, in which cities and towns empty as people go away on holiday. This year, with the coronavirus pandemic still at large, most French are opting to holiday in France rather than going abroad, and the majority are going away by car. That means increased traffic on the roads, perhaps even more than usual.

Juilletistes vs Aoûtiens: Do France’s two summer holiday tribes still exist?

Roads watchdog Bison Fute has predicted July 31st to be the worst day for travel – but it has also forecast busy periods throughout the month of August, notably Saturday 7th, 14th and 21st.

… and public transport closures …

If you live in Paris, transport will run less smoothly than usual in August as authorities take advantage of lower passenger numbers to do works on the city’s Metro and train routes. 

… and some shops will shut for the month, too

Many small, independently owned businesses close for the month of August, so don’t rely on a particular shop being open. Likewise if you’re dealing with an official or someone in an office don’t be surprised if you get an out-of-office reply telling you that they will be back in September.

Back to school allowance pay-day
 
As of August 18th, more than 3 million French will receive the government back-to-school allowance, ARS, which was set up to help low-income families pay for their children’s education.
The rates – which are means-tested – are as follows for 2021:
  • Children aged 6-10 on January 1st, 2021: €370,31
  • Children aged 11-14: €390,74
  • Children aged 15-18: €404,28

No date has yet been confirmed when the payments will be made automatically to eligible families – but the CAF website has said it will be the ‘second-half of August’. Payments are usually made around August 18th.

Pass’sport launch

Designed to facilitate access to sports for young people, the pass’sport launches on August 15th. Children aged six to 18 whose families receive the back-to-school allowance or the allowance for children with disabilities may be eligible for €50 aid towards the cost of registration in a sports club at the beginning of the school year.

Eligible families will receive their Pass’Sport by post. They can present it to the sports clubs of their choice. The amount of the aid is paid directly to the clubs and covers all or part of the cost of registration or licence.

Last month for 2020 meal vouchers

The extended validity period for 2020 meal vouchers ends on August 31.

The vouchers, sometimes offered or subsidised to employees as part of a work contract, can be used at traditional restaurants, hotels and brasseries offering catering services, or fast food outlets – including click and collect deliveries – as well as supermarkets and food stores.

Solidarity fund

At the beginning of the health crisis the government and the regions set up a solidarity fund to support small businesses, micro-entrepreneurs, the self-employed and the liberal professions, affected by the economic consequences of Covid-19.

Companies have until August 31st to submit their application for assistance from the solidarity fund for any losses incurred in June 2021. They will receive compensation of around 40% of the loss of activity in June 2021 compared to June 2019, 30% of the loss of activity in July 2021 compared to July 2019, and 20% of the loss of activity in August 2021 compared to August 2019.

A public holiday

Assumption, on August 15th is, officially, a public holiday in France – but as it falls on a Sunday this year you probably won’t really notice. Those shops and venues that are open may operate reduced hours.

The weather

Sadly, it appears the weather isn’t changing for the better – at least, not immediately. July had been cooler and wetter than in previous years, and forecasters have warned that we should expect a fairly miserable start to August. 

They predict a parade of ‘cold drops’ will scoot towards France from the North Atlantic, leading to lower-than-average temperatures and plenty of rain across a large part of the country. Only the far south will avoid the worst of the weather.

Experts have raised the hope that temperatures are expected to rise in the second-half of the month – and there may even be a heatwave to bask in just before rentrée in September.

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WHAT CHANGES IN FRANCE

What changes about life in France in May 2022?

A new government, May marches, flowers and public holidays as well as a rise in the minimum wage, tax deadlines, and the return of the Cannes Film Festival - here's what is happening in France in May.

What changes about life in France in May 2022?

Public Holidays

There are several public holidays in the month of May, but sadly two of the three fall on Sundays this year.

International Worker’s Day, or May Day, is on Sunday, May 1st. The holiday also coincides with the first Sunday of the month, when many museums offer free access. Though several businesses will close their doors on May Day, some museums will stay open and offer free entry, like the Air and Space Museum.

The other two public holidays are May 8th (Victory in Europe Day), which will also fall on a Sunday, and May 26th (Ascension) which will fall on a Thursday. May 8th is marked with military parades and remembrance events in towns and cities around France.

READ ALSO Why 2022 is a bad year for public holidays in France

May Day

As we mentioned, May 1st falls on a Sunday this year but although there is no extra day off work the other May Day traditions remain in place – notably trades union demonstrations and marches and the giving of the lucky lily-of-the-valley flowers.

School holidays end

Schools in zone B (northern France and Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur) have already returned after the Easter holidays, but schools in Zone A (central France) restart classes on Monday, May 2nd while schools in Zone C (Paris and south west France) go back on Monday, May 9th). 

New government

The newly re-elected president Emmanuel Macron is shaking up his government, with Prime Minister Jean Castex having announced that he will resign.

This allows Macron to create a new top team of ministers and appoint a new PM, whose focus will be on fighting the parliamentary elections in June.

Voter Registration Deadline

If you are a French citizen but are not yet registered to vote for the parliamentary elections, then do not delay because you have until Wednesday, May 4th to do so online and until Friday, May 6th to do the process in person (either at your town hall or by the post).

READ ALSO When are the parliamentary elections and why are they important?

Candidate deadlines

Aspiring deputés (the French equivalent of MPs) must file their declaration of candidacy with their respective préfecture between Monday, May 16th and Friday May 20th. 

Tax Deadlines

May brings the first deadlines for the annual tax declaration – compulsory for almost everyone in France.

If you choose to file your tax returns on paper, the deadline is May 19th, 2022, regardless of where you live. For the online declarations, you have until May 24th if you live in the départements 1 to 19, and until May 31st 2022 for the départements from 20 to 54. For the remaining départements, you have until June 7th, 2022 at midnight.

READ ALSO The French tax calendar 2022

Minimum wage increase

Due to inflation, the minimum wage automatically increases on May 1st. INSEE, the national statistics bureau of France, has specified the minimum wage must increase by 2.65 percent (or €33) starting May 1st – this means that the gross hourly minimum wage will increase from €10.57 to €10.85.

Benefit increases

In line with the minimum wage increases, there will also be an increase of 1.8 percent to certain benefits including the RSA, family allowance and disables persons allowance. The back-to-school grant that families get in August will also increase to €376.98 for children aged 6 to 10, €397.78 for those aged 11 to 14 and €411.56 for teenagers aged 15 to 18.

Jobseekers training

A new payment system comes into effect for jobseekers who are undertaking extra professional training – trainees aged 16-18 will be paid €200 a month instead of the current €130. For trainees aged between 18 and 25, it will be €500, and €685 per month for those aged 26 and over.

Black boxes in cars

All new cars on sale in France are now required to be fitted with a ‘black box recorder’ similar to those in planes, in accordance with an EU measure voted into place in 2019. The measure will be extended to all cars on sale, including used cars, by 2024.

Bac delays

Initially scheduled for mid-March, the speciality tests for the general and technological baccalaureate have been postponed to May 11th-13th due to disruptions caused by the fifth wave of the Covid-19 epidemic. 

The Cannes Film Festival 

The 2022 festival will take place from May 17th to 28th at the Palais des festivals et des congrès in Cannes. It will be the 75th edition of the world renowned festival.  

Bubble Museum

The new bubbles, balls and inflatables exhibition at the Grand Halle of La Villette in Paris, will let you continue diving into ball pits until August 21st. 

VIDEO Check out Paris’ new bubble exhibition 

Deadline set for student grants

If you are interested in obtaining a student grant, student social housing, or aid for the 2022-2023 academic year, you have until May 15th to apply. According to the official website, even if you do not have all the elements required for the application, it is still important to fill out the application by the stated deadline.

A new increase in the interest rate?

The tax-free, government-regulated savings account known as the Livret A – used by over 55 million French people – may increase its interest rates due to inflation starting May 1st, 2022. For the moment, no official announcement has been made. But if this announcement is confirmed, then it will be a first in the history of the Livret A. Usually, the rate of the Livret A and the Livret de développement durable et solidaire (LDDS) can only be increased twice a year, specifically on February 1st and August 1st. The rate of the Livret A already changed on February 1st this year, from 0.5 percent to 1 percent. 

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