Bargains, parcels and politics chat: 6 essential articles for life in France

Bargain hunting, parcels and what makes buying a house take so long are all covered, as well as some conversation stoppers if your French friends suddenly get too political for your liking. 

Bargains, parcels and politics chat: 6 essential articles for life in France
Photo: Philippe Desmazes/AFP

France’s winter sales are coming to an end – unless you live in parts of the northeast of the country, in which case they’ve already ended.

This weekend therefore may be your last chance to bag a bargain, so here’s everything you’ve ever wanted to know about the annual winter sales in France but may have been afraid to ask.

What you need to know about France’s winter sales

Speaking of money, it appears your advice to friends and family overseas is “Don’t send anything” to France by post – unless you want to get hit with unexpected duty fees.

Among the more than 100 people who responded to our survey, almost all said that they had been hit by duty fees on packages sent to France.

And the consensus of opinion was that getting things sent here from outside the EU wasn’t worth the money.

‘Don’t send anything’: How foreigners in France are being hit with big parcel fees

Politics is almost impossible to ignore pretty much any time, but as this is a Presidential election year, it’s even more ubiquitous than usual. So, when your French friends start banging on about the election, impress them with your unusually offbeat knowledge of Emmanual Macron, Valérie Pécresse, Marine Le Pen, and Eric Zemmour.

We’ve also spent some time looking at the administrative and financial issues that you will face when you’re buying a house in France, including this article which breaks down what has to happen between you putting in an offer and finally moving in.

Here’s our explainer on the time-frame for buying and selling property in France.

Meanwhile, the first-ever cable car service in the greater Paris region will connect two of the city’s suburbs in just 17 minutes, according to newly-released plans.

Work on the line, which will connect the southern Parisian suburbs of Créteil and Villeneuve-Saint-Georges, is set to begin in March. Read all about it here.

Finally, if you’re stuck for something to watch this month – because, let’s face it, it’s still too cold to go out all the time – check out our pick of the best shows on French TV and streaming services, and – for those of you living in and around Paris – French movies with English subtitles screened by Lost in Frenchlation.

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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