Marriage rights and ketchup laws: 6 essential articles for life in France

From the step-by-step process to getting a visa to the financial benefits of getting married via some of the more bizarre laws in the French statute books, here's our pick of six articles that will help you to better understand life in France.

A newlywed couple pose on the Alexander III bridge in Paris.
A newlywed couple pose on the Alexander III bridge in Paris. Read our six essential articles for life in France. (Photo by Ludovic MARIN / AFP)

France is a country shrouded in romance – its capital, Paris, is even dubbed the City of Love

So it may suck the life out of things to think about the financial consequences of getting married here, but before you pop the question or decide to accept a proposal, it is worth knowing about the ramifications on everything from income tax to inheritance if you plan to settle in France. 

We have been investigating this so that you don’t have to, Casanova. 

Does it make financial sense to get married in France?

Relations between the United States and France go back a long way. Without French military intervention, it is possible that the United States would never have gained independence from Great Britain and may never have existed at all. 

Over the course of centuries, there has been massive migration between the two countries but with the passage of time, moving has become a little more complicated on the administrative side.

We have looked into the steps necessary for Americans to retire and move to Paris and crucially, the paperwork needed to bring your pet to France from the USA

We have also put together a more general guide on how US citizens can apply to get a visa to come to France. 

How to apply for a French visa as a US citizen

Two people have died within the space of a week on the ski slopes of France. The first was a five-year-old British girl killed following a collision and the second was a French actor called Gaspar Ulliel who was also hit by another skier. 

Officials have launched investigations and may look to impose tougher safety rules following the accidents. We have been looking into the relative risk of skiing in France. 

How safe are France’s ski resorts?

Living in the 21st century without a mobile phone is no easy task. Without one, how would you be able to scroll through The Local while on-the-go? 

Choosing the right mobile phone contract and going through the process of getting a French SIM card can be a bit of a hassle. So we have created a handy guide to help you along the way. 

What are the best mobile phone contracts for foreigners in France?

There is an urban myth in France that it is illegal to name your pig after Napoleon. While that legislation does not actually exist, there are plenty of weird-sounding laws on the French statute books. 

Unlimited ketchup servings in school canteens are forbidden, UFOs are banned from the town of Chateauneuf-du-Pape and you can legally marry a dead person. You can read about these laws and many more in the story below.

Sixteen of France’s most bizarre laws

Do you suffer from a dermatological condition, digestive issues, cardiac problems or another kind of health problem? If so, then the French state might pay for you to attend a thermal spa for treatment. 

There are more than 100 such spas in France, providing (largely) state-funded care for people who have been prescribed a treatment by their doctor. In some cases, the French state even reimburses hotel stays for those visiting spas far from their homes. You will need a carte vitale if you want to have your treatment partially covered by the government. 

The science behind thermal spa treatment is disputed. But who could say no to 18 reimbursed days of massages, power showers, steam room sessions and mudbaths? Read about how you can benefit below. 

Explained: Why do the French love thermal spa cures so much?

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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.


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.


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