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WHAT CHANGES IN FRANCE

This week in France: What you need to know

From tax deadlines, to protests, via night trains, here's what's changing this week in France.

Christmas lights illuminate the French capital.
Christmas lights illuminate the French capital. It is going to be a busy week in Paris and beyond. (Photo by Ludovic MARIN / AFP)

Monday 

Energy checks paid out

Close to 6 million French households will receive grants worth €100 to help offset energy bills. These payments will be made between December 13-22nd and are designed to help poorer households cope with the winter cold

Throughout the entire month of December, there will be no hike on gas prices, with tariffs fixed at the same rate as on October 1st. This is part of the government’s strategy. We have written our own guide to help you save money on energy bills in France. You can read it HERE

SNCF to increase health pass checks

In a bid to control the spread of the virus, SNCF is stepping up health pass checks for its train services. One in three trains will have guards checking for valid health passes as opposed to one in four trains currently. 

The Prêt à voyager app will allow travellers to combine health passes and train tickets into one single QR code. 

A week of protests? 

A French confederation of trade unions known as the Force Ouvrière has called for a “mobilisation” in the country’s transport and logistics sectors, up until Friday. We will keep you updated on any disruption that could impact your travel plans. 

Tuesday 

First ever Vienna-Paris night train arrives in the French capital 

Nightjet is a new overnight train service, covering some 1,400km, that will run between French and Austrian capitals. Its first ever passengers will arrive in Gare de l’Est on Tuesday morning. 

Tickets to Vienna will cost from €29.90 for a seated place, €49.90 for a family compartment, and €89.90 for a single room with a bed. The train service stops off at other destinations including Strasbourg, Munich and Salzburg. 

Wednesday

President Macron on TF1 

French President Emmanuel Macron will be interviewed by broadcaster, TF1, at 9pm. He has yet to announce his candidacy for the 2022 presidential election but polls suggest he is the frontrunner. Macron will likely use the occasion to outline his successes and president and perhaps outline his vision for the future. 

Health pass rule change for over 65s

From Wednesday, health passes for over 65s who have not had a booster dose of Covid vaccine will be progressively deactivated. People in this age group will need to have a vaccine within five to seven months of their previous dose (or recorded infection) – or risk losing the right to enter various public venues like bars and restaurants.

The same rule will apply to anyone over the age of 18 from January 15th. 

Over 65s no longer need to make an appointment to get a booster dose – they can simply walk into vaccination sites to get injected. 

We have a detailed breakdown of the new health pass rules HERE and a guide on how to get a booster dose HERE

Christmas bonus 

The government will pay out a form of financial aid known as the prime de Noël to 2.3 million French households. 

Single beneficiaries will receive €154.52; couples or parents receive €228.67; and as a households of three people receive €274.41. For larger households, there is an extra €60 paid out per additional child. 

You can read more about whether you qualify for this payment and the French tradition of Christmas solidarité HERE.

Deadline for correcting income tax declaration

The deadline to declare your 2020 earnings has now passed. But if you made a mistake in filing your tax return online, you have up until December 15th to change the following details: the number of people in your care; whether you have paid a media license fee; your revenue; your expenses; your tax credits; and the tax paid on property fortunes (IFI) worth more than €1.3 million. 

You can make these changes via your personal account on the impots.gouv.fr website. If you sent your tax return by post and made a mistake, you will have to amend any of these details in writing. Further details can be found here.  

Deadline for paying vacant property tax

In certain communes, you must also pay tax if you own a property that has been unoccupied for an extended period of time. Wednesday is the deadline.  

If your property is in a zone tendue (an area with a housing shortage), you must pay the taxe sur logements vacants (TLV). This applies if the property has been unoccupied for a year or more. If your property is not in a zone tendue, you might have to pay the taxe d’habitation sur les logements vacants (THLV). This only applies to you if your commune has voted in support of this tax.

This only applies to properties that have been vacant for two years or more. There is an online simulator that tells you whether or not your property is situated in a zone tendue. There are various exemptions to these taxes available on the service-public.fr website

Friday

Schools break up 

Schools across France will close from December 18th until January 3rd, for the Christmas break. There is likely to be heavy traffic on the roads beginning on the night of Friday 17th and running over the weekend. 

Saturday 

Anti-racism protests

More than 200 organisations have called for anti-racism protests across France, to mark International Migrants Day. Organisers describe this call to protest as a “united answer to racist politics and speeches”. 

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WHAT CHANGES IN FRANCE

On the agenda: What’s happening in France this week

A new Prime Minister, Covid rules relaxed, Cannes kicks off, and election candidates must confirm their plan to run for office - here’s what’s happening in France this week

On the agenda: What’s happening in France this week

Monday

Public transport mask mandates – The requirement to wear a facemask on public transport in France was dropped on Monday, as Covid-19 cases fall across the country. But it remains compulsory to wear one in nursing homes, hospitals and other medical centres. France’s decision to drop mask mandates on public transport coincides with a Europe-wide relaxation of rules for flights. Local rules will still apply, and airlines can still require passengers to wear facemasks.

PM to quit – Prime Minister Jean Castex has already handed in his ‘very simple, very classic’ resignation letter to re-elected President Emmanuel Macron and officially stand down, allowing President Emmanuel Macron – three weeks after his re-election – to begin his second term with a fresh cabinet.

It has been rumoured that Macron will name a female PM, with Audrey Azoulay – who has been Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) since 2017 – one of those namechecked in dispatches. If he does choose a woman, she will become France’s second female PM after Edith Cresson, who held the post between May 1991 and April 1992.

Burkini rules – Grenoble, in southeastern France, is set to reignite one of France’s recurring summer debates when it votes to authorise the “burkini” in state-run swimming pools.

The all-in-one swimsuit, used by some Muslim women to cover their bodies and hair while bathing, has become almost as topical as ice cream and sun hats during the holiday season in recent years. Seen as a symbol of creeping Islamism by its critics and an affront to France’s secular traditions, many right-wingers and some feminists would like to ban it outright. It is prohibited in most state-run pools – for hygiene rather than religious reasons reasons — the same strict swimwear rules mean men are required to squeeze into tight-fitting trunks.

But the city council, dominated by the EELV green party, is set to scrap its bathing dress code on Monday, effectively authorising long body coverings, beach shorts and topless bathing.

Tuesday

Phew, what a scorcher – It was warm last week. It’s set to get even hotter this week, as a ‘heat dome’ settles over France after weekend storms in the north and west. The southwest of the country, in particular, will be hot from Tuesday May 17th, with temperatures set to top 30C across most of the country, and 35C in the southwest. Combined with high humidity, it’s set to feel closer to 40C in parts during the day, forecasters have warned, while night-time temperatures are expected to hover around 20C. The stickiest conditions are expected between Tuesday and Thursday, with the dome set to break up on Friday.

Cannes do – The 75th Cannes Festival opens in the glamorous town on the south coast of France with the premiere of Michel Hazanavicius’ zombie movie “Z”. 

Rock n roll – The smashed guitar that finally broke up Oasis will be one of a number of big-ticket items going under the hammer at an auction at Hôtel Drouot in Paris. Noel Gallagher’s guitar is expected to fetch between €300,000 and €500,000.

Friday

Candidates assemble – It’s the last day for candidates for next month’s legislative elections in France to officially confirm they will run for election.

Saturday

Sport – Defending champions Barcelona take on seven-time winners Lyon in the UEFA Women’s Champions League final in Turin. The French side are the most successful team in the competition.

Sunday

May 22nd marks the start of the French Open tennis tournament at Roland Garros. It will run until the men’s final on June 5th.

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