Taxes to TV: 6 essential articles about life in France

From property costs and healthcare rights to cheese and TV, here are six essential articles to read about life in France.

A Frenchman plays petanque outside a café
Life in France is not all wine and petanque (although a lot of it is). Photo: Valery Hache/AFP

France is a popular retirement destination and many dream of leaving their job and settling down to a quiet life of wine and pétanque in a small French village.

But what happens if you become ill or infirm and need extra care?

We’re taking a look at the rights foreigners have to home care and retirement homes in France and – crucially – who pays.

Reader question: can I move into a French care home as a foreigner?

If you go by a shortened version of your first name – eg Bill instead of William – then France’s famous bureaucracy might have a problem with you.

The issue of names on official documents can be a fraught one for married women who have changed their name on documents like their passport, but nicknames can be a problem too.

Why nicknames are a bad idea in France

Property-buyers in France are often tempted by what look like incredible bargains – châteaux for €50,000 for example.

While there are definitely low-cost properties available, especially in the more rural areas of France, there are additional costs that buyers need to be aware of before splashing their cash.

From notaire fees and professional fees when you buy, to the price of renovation plus the regular expenses of taxes and insurance, there are a lot of extra costs to bear in mind.

The hidden cost of owning property in France

If you frequently find yourself confused by the written and unwritten rules of the French language then don’t worry – the French find it pretty confusing too.

Hot on the heels of the bonne journée v belle journée controversy, French language experts are now tying themselves in knots about the phrase pas de souci, which ironically means ‘no worries’.

Is it a cheery little phrase for casual encounters or rude, megalomaniac and (far worse) an English import?

Pas de souci: Why French langauge experts are divided over ‘no worries’?

Many French learners find watching French films and TV a vital addition to their lessons.

It’s great exposure to the language, you hear how things are pronounced, learn a little about French culture as well as plenty of the type of swearing and slang that you won’t learn in class.

With the news that Omar Sy has become the first French actor to sign a multi-year deal with streaming giant Netflix, we’ve rounded up our pick of his French-language back catalogue.

5 of Omar Sy’s best French-language films and TV series

As well as language, France also takes its culinary heritage pretty seriously, as evidenced by the frequent gastronomy disputes that erupt here.

This week makers of the famous blue cheese Roquefort have been taking on the food labelling system over what they see as an unfair classification.

But did you know that true Roquefort cheese is made to a 600-year-old recipe, can only be produced in certain caves and can (apparently) heal wounds?

Roquefort: The 600-year-old cheese with the very romantic history

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France to roll out ID cards app

Technology is being rolled out to allow people to carry their French ID cards in an app form - and could be rolled out to other cards, including driving licences and cartes de séjour residency cards.

France to roll out ID cards app

Holders of French carte d’identité (ID cards) will soon be able to carry certified digital versions of them on their smartphone or other electronic devices, a decree published in the Journal Officiel has confirmed.

An official app is being developed for holders of the newer credit card-format ID cards that have information stored on a chip. A provisional test version of the app is expected at the end of May.

Users will be able to use the ID card app, when it becomes available, for a range of services “from checking in at the airport to renting a car”, according to Thierry Breton, EU Commissioner for the Internal Market.

All French citizens have an ID card, which can be used for proving identity in a range of circumstances and for travel within the EU and Schengen zone – the new app will be in addition to the plastic card that holders already have.

Under the plans, after downloading the app, card holders will need merely to hold the card close to their phone to transfer the required information. According to officials, the holder then can decide what information is passed on – such as proof of age, or home address – according to the situation.

The government has not given any examples of situations in which the app would need to be used, but has set out the main principles and the ambition of the plan: to allow everyone to identify themselves and connect to certain public and private organisations, in particular those linked to the France Connect portal.

READ ALSO What is France Connect and how could it make your life simpler?

Cards will continue to be issued for the foreseeable future – this is merely an extension of the existing system.

Only French citizens have ID cards, but if successful the app is expected to be rolled out to include other cards, such as driving licences, cartes de séjour residency cards or even visas. A digital wallet is being developed at the European level – Member States have until September to agree what it could contain.

READ ALSO Eight smartphone apps that make life in France a bit easier