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A few of the benefits of growing old in France

There are numerous reasons to spend your golden years in France - the good weather and the good living notable among them. But here are a few more benefits to help you grow old gracefully (or not) here.

Two older people sitting on the floor looking out over a body of water
Growing old in France has its benefits. Photo: Katarzyna Grabowska / Unsplash

You might not believe it, given that older people in France have marched to protect their pension rights in recent years – but France looks after its older generations pretty well. Here are a few of the ways…

Health

Annual flu jabs are available for free to over-65s, and mammograms are free for over-50s. Other healthcare benefits are also provided for older residents in France who are in the healthcare system.

Local travel

Local travel authorities routinely offer free or reduced travel for older people. For example,  Greater Paris region residents aged over-65 with an income less than €2,200 per month have been entitled to free Navigo passes, allowing travel on the Metro, RER trains, trams and buses.

You can also demand others give up certain seats so you can sit down.

Meanwhile the Lignes d’Azur bus and tram company in Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur offers a reduced-fare card for over-65s on proof of identity and age. Similar to Paris, those on lower incomes who live in the region are entitled to free travel.

READ ALSO Retiring to France: The things you need to consider

Rail cards

For a €49 annual fee, SNCF’s Carte Avantage Sénior+ gives 30 percent off train fares in both standard and first class – while up to three children aged four to 11 get 60 percent off, if they are travelling with you. If you’re even just a semi-regular rail user it’s worth the price. Details available HERE

Flights

Air France and its budget subsidiary Hop! offer a reduction card for those aged over 65, with up to 30 percent off flights to France and Europe – including the UK. The card costs €49 per year. Details HERE

Leisure and culture

Many towns and cities offer special cards that give reductions on cultural and leisure activities for residents aged 55 and over, and again for those aged 65 and over. 

It’s worth checking, too, if you can get cheap movie tickets or museum entrance. Many cinemas – and museums and art galleries – offer reductions based purely on proof of age.

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

Taxes

There are various tax reductions and exemptions for older people living in France – especially those on modest incomes. There’s an income tax allowance for over-65s, and a reduction on taxe foncière for homeowners over 65 before an exemption kicks in for those aged 75 and over, depending on income level.

Meanwhile, taxe d’habitation may be on its way out for main residences – but over-60s on modest incomes are exempt, anyway.

You can find more details on the income levels required for exemptions here.

Benefits

Some of the benefits for older people on lower incomes are listed HERE. They include a ‘solidarity’ allowance for those on limited means, assistance with housing costs, home help aid, access to ‘foyer restaurants’ which offer meals at low prices for older residents, and financial assistance to adapt your home to your changing needs.

Further details of the help available to older people living in France can be found on a dedicated government website HERE

TV licence

As a rule of thumb, anyone who has a TV at their property in France must have a TV licence. And, yes, you still need a licence even if you do not watch French TV and only watch DVDs or stream programmes from overseas on a TV.

But there are some exemptions, however, for example over-60s on a low income, widows or widowers on a low income, or people with a registered disability. Find the full details HERE

READ ALSO EXPLAINED: Who has to pay France’s TV licence?

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TRAVEL NEWS

Covid rules: Travelling abroad from France this summer

There's been plenty written on travel rules for people coming to France - but what if you live in France and have plans for international travel over the coming months? We've got you covered.

Covid rules: Travelling abroad from France this summer

France isn’t currently on the Covid red list for any country, so there is nowhere that is barred to you as a French resident, but different countries still have different entry requirements.

EU/Schengen zone

If you’re travelling to a country that is within the EU or Schengen zone then it’s pretty straightforward.

If you’re fully vaccinated then all you need is proof of vaccination at the border – no need for Covid tests or extra paperwork. Bear in mind, however, that if your second dose was more than nine months ago you will need a booster shot in order to still be considered ‘fully vaccinated’. 

READ ALSO Everything you need to know about travel to France from within the EU

If you were vaccinated in France then you will have a QR code compatible with all EU/Schengen border systems. If you were vaccinated elsewhere, however, your home country’s vaccination certificate will still be accepted.

If you’re not fully vaccinated you will need to show a negative Covid test at the border, check the individual country for requirements on how recent the test needs to be.

Bear in mind also that several EU countries still have mask/health pass rules in place and some countries specify the type of mask required, for example an FFP2 mask rather than the surgical mask more common in France. Check the rules of the country that you are travelling to in advance.

If you’re travelling to a country covered by The Local, you can find all the latest Covid rules in English on the homepages for Austria, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Norway, Spain, Sweden or Switzerland.

UK

The UK has no Covid-related travel rules, so there is no requirement for tests even if you are not vaccinated. The passenger locator form has also been scrapped – full details HERE.

Once there, there are no Covid-related health rules in place. 

If you’re travelling between France and the UK, remember the extra restrictions in place since Brexit.

USA 

Unlike the EU, the USA still has a testing requirement in place, vaccinated or not. You would need to show this prior to departure.

It has, however, lifted the restrictions on non citizens entering, so travel to the USA for tourism and visiting friends/family is once again possible.

For full details on the rules, click HERE.

Once there, most places have lifted Covid-related rules such as mask requirements, but health rules are decided by each State, rather than on a national level, so check in advance with the area you are visiting.

Other non-EU countries

Most non-EU countries have also lifted the majority of their Covid related rules, but in certain countries restrictions remain, such as in New Zealand which is reopening its border in stages and at present only accepts certain groups.

Other countries also have domestic Covid restrictions in place, particularly in China which has recently imposed a strict local lockdown after a spike in cases.

Returning to France

Once your trip is completed you will need to re-enter France and the border rules are the same whether you live here or not.

If you’re fully vaccinated you simply need to show your vaccination certificate (plus obviously passport and residency card/visa if applicable) at the border.

If you’re not vaccinated you will need to get a Covid test before you return and present the negative result at the border – the test must be either a PCR test taken within the previous 72 hours or an antigen test taken within the previous 48 hours. Home-test kits are not accepted.

If you’re returning from an ‘orange list’ country and you’re not vaccinated you will need to provide proof of your ‘essential reasons’ to travel – simply being a resident is classed as an essential reason, so you can show your carte de séjour residency card, visa or EU passport at the border.

Even if the country that you are in is reclassified as red or orange while you are away, you will still be allowed back if you are a French resident. If you’re not a French passport-holder, it’s a good idea to take with you proof of your residency in France, just in case.

Fully vaccinated

France counts as ‘fully vaccinated’ those who:

  • Are vaccinated with an EMA-approved vaccine (Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca or Johnson & Johnson)
  • Are 7 days after their final dose, or 28 days in the case of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccines
  • Have had a booster shot if more than 9 months has passed since the final dose of your vaccine. If you have had a booster shot there is no need for a second one, even if more than 9 months has passed since your booster
  • Mixed dose vaccines (eg one Pfizer and one Moderna) are accepted 
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