Pensions to Eurovision: 6 essential articles for life in France

Pension reform is back on the political agenda, and why new travel rules are good for American visitors ... Plus, is buying a project property in France worth it?

Pensions to Eurovision: 6 essential articles for life in France

Unless you’ve been living under a rock or in one of those increasingly hard-to-find areas of France without phone signals, you’ll be hard-put not to have heard there’s a Presidential election looming.

All the candidates are busy campaigning, but the biggest political news was, actually, quite unsurprising. If he’s re-elected for a second five-year term, current Elysée tenant Emmanuel Macron wants to raise the retirement age in France, as he resurrects his blockbuster pension reform plans that were put on hold because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Read all about it here.

Macron plans to raise French retirement age to 65

Speaking of retirement – whatever your age at the time – the hope for many is that their pensions will guarantee a long and happy life in France.

But those planning a golden autumn here having worked elsewhere could find themselves on the wrong end of poor pensions advice – with little legal recourse. Here’s what you need to know to avoid the worst when you’re trying to live your best life.

Ask the expert: How to avoid pension scams when you retire to France

That was the bad news. Here’s something a little more inspiring.

Buying and renovating a doer-upper in France is fraught with administrative and financial problems, but it’s totally worth it, say six people who’ve done it – some of them more than once… So, they should know.

Hard work but totally worth it: 6 successful French property renovations

One of those great French property renovators was an American who – because of travel regulations due to Covid-19 – was unable to visit the place they had bought just before the pandemic hit.

Now, however, the situation is improving. Here’s the latest travel rules news for anyone wanting to head from the US to France – or vice versa.

Why France’s Covid-rule change is good news for Americans

One of the great joys of living in France is the remarkable cafe culture. In fact, it may be apocryphal but it’s fitting as we live through a period of soaring energy prices, it is said that the French flocked to cafes after World War II to save on the cost of heating their homes.

But one question is should you tip your server? And if so, how much? We have the lowdown…

How much should you tip your server in France?

And finally… Eurovision. Europe’s annual festival of song and kitsch is in Turin a couple of weeks after France’s Presidential elections. 

There’s something slightly unusual about France’s entry this year. It’s not in French. Or English – that other staple language of Eurovision entries. It’s in Breton. We have the video here, and a few facts you can impress fellow song contest fanatics at your Eurovision party…

France’s languages: 5 things to know about Breton

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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.