Health insurance, trains and swearing: 6 essential articles for life in France

From translating the rich variety of French expletives to sorting out your health insurance - here's our pick of six articles that will help you to better understand life in France.

It's 'duck cold' - one of the many French expressions for describing the weather.
It's 'duck cold' - one of the many French expressions for describing the weather. Read all about that and much more in our pick of articles for life in France. (Photo by Britta Pedersen)

Climate change and rising global temperatures are an undeniable truth and should be of great concern to every human living on this planet.

But that isn’t to say that France doesn’t get a little chilly at times, and the French language has an incredibly rich array of animal related expressions to describe grim weather. 

From “duck cold” to “raining like a pissing cow”, here are some of our favourites.

‘It’s duck cold!’: How the French complain about winter weather

Some say that the ultimate American dream is to move to France. 

One reason that many Americans choose to do so is to gain access to the country’s incredible public health system. 

But for at least the first 90 days of their stay in France, Americans do need some kind of private health insurance. We have covered everything you need to know about this. 

Americans in France: What’s the deal with health insurance?

Modernity is all about speed and efficiency – faster connection times, faster service, faster everything. 

But one French rail cooperative is looking at reversing this trend with a philosophy of using slow trains to connect remote parts of the country at affordable prices. You can read all about the initiative here. 

OPINION: France’s ‘slow train’ revolution may just be the future for travel

Two recent outbursts from the world have politics have shone a light on a problem that will be familiar to many – how to translate French swearing?

Translating French swearwords to English can be difficult – direct translations often just don’t really make sense or worse, can overplay the gravity of a situation. We spoke to a language expert about the pitfalls of rude language translations. 

Why is it so hard to translate French swearing?

Most countries seem to have some kind of north-south divide, based around often-outdated stereotypes. 

It should come as no surprise then that France is no different. There are many regional differences within the country on everything from favourite sports, to cooking, to weather and accents. 

Many of these variations can be mapped out – and that is exactly what we’ve done.

8 maps that explain France’s north-south divide

Getting a long-stay visa to come to France can be a difficult process. 

But people who can demonstrate certain business, creative or academic skills have another alternative: the talent passport. 

There is still a mountain of paperwork to complete but this four-year visa is definitely worth applying for if you meet the criteria to apply. 

We have looked at how this initiative works. 

Talent passport: The little-known French visa that could make moving to France a lot easier

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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