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WHAT CHANGES IN FRANCE

What changes in France in October 2021?

With changes to health passports and Brexit deadlines, tax deadlines and wine sales, there's a lot going on in France this October.

What changes in France in October 2021?
All photos: AFP

Over 12s need a health passport

The health passport has been required for entry to a wide variety of venues in France since August, but initially only for adults. However from October 1st, it is required by all over 12s who want to enter venues including restaurants, cafés, museums, cinemas, long-distance trains or large events – including those who are accompanied by family members.

While more than 60 percent of French teens have already had at least one dose since the vaccination programme opened up to them in June, this requirement could pose a problem for families holidaying in France from countries that have not yet begun to vaccinate under 18s.

Free Covid tests end

From October 15th, Covid tests cease to be free for French residents. Tests required for medical reasons (eg if you have symptoms or are a contact case) will still be free but ‘convenience tests’ will be charged at a maximum rate of €29 for an antigen test or €49 for a PCR test. The intention is to stop people using regular tests to use the health passport and instead push more people to get vaccinated.

Tourists and visitors to France have been charged for tests since July.

READ ALSO How to get a Covid test in France

No more free last-minute refunds on SNCF

French rail operator SNCF has offered free cancellation and alteration on its train tickets right up until the time of travel during the pandemic, but this has now come to an end. You can still change or cancel your ticket with no extra charge up to three days before departure, but after that you will not receive a full refund.

Brits in France required to have residency card – POSTPONED

October 1st was originally the deadline for UK nationals who were full-time residents in France before December 31st 2020 to be in possession of the carte de séjour residency card. However, this deadline has now been pushed back to January 1st 2022 – full details here.

READ ALSO What changes for Brits in France in October

UK travel rules change

Also related to Brexit is a change of travel rules to the UK. From October 1st, the vast majority of EU citizens can no longer travel into the UK using an ID card, only passports are acceptable. Full details HERE.

UK car stickers

If you’re driving a British-registered car into France from October you will need to replace your GB car sticker with a UK one, a new rule from the British government.

Tax bills arrive

Payments are due in October for the property owner’s tax, taxe foncière, and the TV licence.

READ ALSO The French tax calendar for 2021

Minimum wage increase

The minimum wage, known as the SMIC, increases on October 1st to a pre-tax monthly rate of €1,589.47 for a full-time worker (up 2.2 percent from €1,554.58) while the pre-tax hourly rate rises from €10.25 to €10.48.

Changes to unemployment benefits

The second part of the government’s overhaul of the unemployment benefits system comes into force from October 1st. This affects how payments are calculated. Unemployment benefits in France are calculated as a percentage of your former salary, rather than a flat rate, and from October the calculation used will change to a monthly average, rather than an average of days worked.

Find full details on the changes here

Cuts to pandemic support

France has been gradually phasing out its financial support packages as the country reopens, but from October 1st the solidarity fund, which allowed businesses to claim money to offset their Covid-related financial losses, will end. It will be replaced by grants targeting businesses in hard-hit industries such as travel and tourism.

Gas prices rise

Regulated gas prices will rise by 12.6 percent on October 1st.  That represents a 5 percent pre-tax price rise for households which use gas for cooking, 9.1 percent for those who have dual use, cooking and hot water, and 14.3 percent for households that have gas central heating. This follows a 7.9 percent increase in September and reflects a global rise in gas prices.

Foires aux vins 

With the French wine harvest – which usually runs from mid September to mid October depending on the weather and the region – well underway, keep an eye out for deals on wine. Most supermarkets and wine sellers run Foires aux vins (wine fairs) during September and October which can be great places to snap up a bargain few cases. Find the full list of dates here.

Nuit blanche

Paris on October 2nd holds its annual Nuit blanche (sleepless night), when venues including museums stay open all night – find the full programme here.

READ ALSO The 11 best festivals and events in France in autumn 2021 

Paris Marathon

The Paris marathon is back after being one of the first big events to be cancelled because of the pandemic, way back in February 2020. Rescheduled several times since then, the 2021 race will take place on October 17th. The half marathon passed off successfully on September 5th, so organisers will be hoping the marathon can go ahead too. All runners will need a health passport.

School holidays

The autumn Toussaint (All Saints) holiday for all schools in France begins on Saturday, October 23rd and runs until Monday, November 8th.

Trêve hivernale starts

October 31st marks the last day when tenants who are in arrears can be evicted from their home, or have their electricity or gas supplies cut off.

The trêve hivernale (winter truce) begins on November 1st and runs until May 31st 2022 – during this period landlords are not legally allowed to evict tenants. The 2020/21 truce had been extended until June because of the ongoing economic fallout from the pandemic and lockdowns.

Clocks change

At 3am on Sunday, October 31st, the clocks will go back by one hour marking the end of summer time.

. . . And don’t forget that Monday, November 1st is a public holiday, so a nice long weekend to finish the month.

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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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