Voting, digital health and ‘Poutine’: Essential articles for life in France

France's new digital health portal, the hidden costs of buying a property and why the French refer to the Russian leader as 'Poutine' - here are 6 essential articles for life in France.

Voting, digital health and 'Poutine': Essential articles for life in France
Photo: Shamil Zhumatov/AP

If you’re thinking about buying property in France, there’s a few things you need to know – aren’t there always?

But, at the most basic level, two questions are most frequently asked. How long it will take … and, secondly, are there any added costs that you need to take into account. Hint: there are…

Revealed: The ‘hidden’ extra costs when buying property in France

Anyone registered in the French health system will shortly be receiving letters or emails about Mon espace santé.

The French government’s new digital health portal was launched earlier this month by Health Minister Olivier Véran – who claimed it will be a health service game-changer similar to the carte vitale when it was introduced in 1998.

Readers have asked us what you have to do, and if it’s safe. So, we took a closer look.

EXPLAINED: France’s new digital health space Mon Espace Santé

Away from healthcare, April’s Presidential election is already weighing on the news cycle like a heavy stone on a rubber sheet. Candidates – and not-yet candidates (we’re looking at you, M Macron) – are pulling out the carefully regulated media appearances, to build up voter support.

And there’s one cohort of voters keen to exercise their right. We spoke to a handful of new French citizens who able to take part in Presidential elections for the first time.

‘Proud and patriotic’ – The new French citizens able to vote for the first time

And if you’re interested in French politics, check out our new podcast on all things French politics and elections related. 

One thing is for sure, you’re going to hear a lot of conflicted claims over the next few months and one issue that candidates are clashing on already is security and crime.

From rising or falling crime rates to the ongoing terror threat, we take a look at the real situation on the ground.

FACT CHECK: Is crime ‘out of control’ in France?

If you’ve been paying attention to the French media recently, you will no doubt have read about Russian President Vladimir Putin – and may be vaguely wondering why his name is spelt Poutine, and pronounced Puh-teen, in France.

There’s a very good reason, with unfortunate gastronomic consequences. Anyway, we explain all here

Reader question: Why do the French call the Russian leader Poutine?

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Traffic warnings for France ahead of holiday weekend

This weekend represents the first chance to 'faire le pont' and have a long holiday weekend - and the French seem set to make the most of it with warnings of extremely heavy traffic from Wednesday.

Traffic warnings for France ahead of holiday weekend

Thursday, May 26th marks the Christian festival of Ascension and is a public holiday in France.

More importantly, it’s the first time this year that French workers have had the opportunity to faire le pont (do the bridge) and create a long weekend.

In France, most public holidays fall on different days each year and if they happen to fall on the weekend then there are no extra days off work.

This year that happened on New Year’s Day (a Saturday) and both of the early May public holidays (the workers’ holiday on May 1st and VE Day on May 8th, which both fell on a Sunday).

READ ALSO Why 2022 is a bad year for public holidays

But as Ascension is on a Thursday, workers have the option to take a day of annual leave on Friday and therefore create a nice four-day weekend.

And it appears that many are planning on doing just that, as the traffic forecaster Bison futé is predicting extremely heavy traffic from Wednesday evening, as people prepare to make their after-work getaway and head to the coast, the countryside or the mountains to fully profit from their holiday weekend.

According to Bison futé maps, the whole country is coloured red – very heavy traffic – on both Wednesday and Thursday as people take to the roads to leave the cities.

Map: Bison futé

Meanwhile Sunday is coloured black – the highest level, meaning extremely heavy traffic and difficult driving conditions – across the whole country. 

Map: Bison futé

If you were hoping to take the train instead you might be out of luck, SNCF reports that most TGV services are sold out for over the holiday weekend.