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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What you need to know about microchipping your pet in France

Under French law, dogs, cats and ferrets that are kept as pets must be identified and registered on a national database.

What you need to know about microchipping your pet in France

The animal must be identifiable by a tattoo or microchip – the most common method – registered on the Identification des carnivores domestiques (I-CAD) database. 

All dogs aged four months and over, cats over seven months old, and ferrets born after November 1st, 2021, that are over seven months old that were, must be tagged in this way. This also offers pet owners peace of mind as it means they can be easily identified and returned if they go missing, as pets sometimes do.

READ ALSO Do you really need a licence if your cat has kittens in France?

The procedure to insert the microchip, or ink the tattoo, must be carried out by an approved professional. The procedure should be done by a vet and costs between €40 and €70.

For anyone who has travelled to France from another country with a pet, the animal will already be microchipped – and on the register. But if the animal joined a family while in France, a trip to the vet may be in order.

READ ALSO Paperwork and shots: How to bring a pet to France from the USA

Once the animal is registered on the database, the owner will receive a letter from I-CAD, along with a credit card-sized document listing the registered animal’s details, including its home address.

It is up to the owner to ensure the details remain correct, including notifying the database operators of any change of address. This can be done via the I-CAD website. Alternatively, you could use the Filalapat app (download for free here), or the more traditional postal service.

As well as declaring any change of address, you should also inform the database operators if you are giving up the animal, or if it dies.

Under a 2021, first-time buyers of cats or dogs have to sign a ‘certificate of commitment and understanding’ before they are allowed to purchase a pet. 

After the signed document is delivered to the authorities, future owners have seven days to change their mind – the idea is to prevent people from ‘impulsively’ buying pets only to abandon them later.