Covid rules to cheese shortages: 6 essential articles for life in France

From the latest Covid restrictions to gender-neutral pronouns via the great cheese drought of 2021, here's our pick of the six articles that will help you to better understand life in France.

As winter approaches, France faces a cheese shortage.
As winter approaches, France faces a cheese shortage. Here are six articles you need to read this week. (Photo by JAMIE MCDONALD / AFP)

Winter is coming. But the cheesemakers aren’t ready. 

After a particularly wet and cold summer, farms have struggled to produce enough hay – an important source of nutrition for lactating cows. This could mean shortages of cheeses like Saint-Nectaire, Cantal and Bleu d’Auvergne towards the end of the year. 

We have been exploring this story and its possible link to climate change. We have also prepared a list of the best cheesy winter dishes in France – should you be lucky enough to get your hands on the ingredients. 

While there are no lockdowns or curfews currently on the cards for the festive break, the French government has introduced a raft of new Covid restrictions to tackle a fifth wave that is spreading through France at “lightning” pace.

The coming days, weeks and months will see the booster shot programme expanded to all over 18s, the return of mandatory mask wearing and tougher conditionality on health passes

To help you better stay on top of the new rules, we have prepared a calendar showing when each change comes in. You can find more information on the Covid-19 section of our website

Calendar: When do France’s new Covid measures come into force?

Its convenient location, good transport links, comparatively cheap property market – not to mention the stunning countryside and great food and wine – have long made France a popular destination for Brits looking to buy a second home. Thousands of Brits have invested in French property and travel regularly to spend time in their home-away-from-home.

But Brexit has ushered in a host of new restrictions for that you need to be aware of and staying on top of them can be hard.

We have been working on a guide on everything you need to know as a second home owner in France. From the 90-day rule to pets – we’ve got it covered. 

Brexit: What has changed for British second-home owners in France?

This week saw tragedy in the Channel. On Wednesday, at least 27 people died trying to cross from France to England, after their dinghy sank at sea. It was the single deadliest disaster ever recorded on the intensively-used migrant route. In response, French government has vowed to crack down on people smuggling. 

The incident has only added further fuel to the ongoing bonfire of Anglo-French relations. On Friday, the French Interior Minister cancelled a planned meeting with his British counterpart over a letter written by British PM Boris Johnson.

Our columnist, John Lichfield – who as a journalist has been covering Calais migration issues for 24 years – looks back at the genesis of the tragedy, and why the British government is deluded when it comes to attacking France on migration.

OPINION: France protects UK from migrant crisis, a fact Britain will never accept

Last week, a French dictionary had to issue a public defence after deciding to define the gender-inclusive pronoun, ‘iel‘, after coming under fire from the French Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer. 

“Defining words used in the world allows people to better understand them,” wrote the Petit Robert dictionary in a statement. 

All languages evolve. So we have published some guidance on how to use ‘iel’ correctly and on the adjectival agreement that must go with it. Welcome to the 21st century. 

French word of the Day: iel

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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


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.