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LIVING IN FRANCE

EXPLAINED: How France’s fuel price rebate works

From April 1st, the French government has put in place a rebate to help motorists cope with the soaring cost of fuel. Here's how it works and how much you can expect to save when filling up your vehicle.

EXPLAINED: How France's fuel price rebate works
The fuel price rebate comes into effect on April 1st. Photo by SEBASTIEN BOZON / AFP

Soaring fuel prices, impacted by the invasion of Ukraine and sanctions against Russia, are causing financial misery for drivers across Europe.

Rather than cut fuel taxes, the French government has instead opted for a rebate on the price of petrol and diesel, which comes into force on Friday, April 1st. Here’s how it works.

Who?

This concerns anyone filling up a vehicle at a service station in France, private or professional. There is no requirement to be a resident of France.

The rebate is offered on almost all types of fuel – petrol (SP95, SP98-E5 and SP-95-E10), diesel, liquefied petroleum gas fuel (LPG-c), compressed or liquefied natural gas, super ethanol (E85) and diesel ethanol (ED95).

It also concerns fuels such as agricultural diesel and fishing-boat diesel, while certain sectors including agriculture, fishing and haulage get extra financial aid through the government’s relief plan.

If you drive for work, as well as benefiting from the fuel rebate, you could also be eligible for a tax rebate.

How much?

The rebate is 18 centimes per litre.

Fuel prices in many parts of France have topped €2 a litre, although the average price has now fallen back to just below €2, so the rebate works out at a saving of about €11 to fill an average 60-litre fuel tank.

It’s estimated that it will cost the government €3 billion.

In recent days French supermarkets have also been engaged in something of a discount battle on fuel prices, offering various types of discounts, or vouchers when people fill up, so it’s worth checking out prices and deals at supermarkets near you.

How does it work?

The rebate operates as a discount when you pay. 

From Friday, filling stations discount the 18c per litre per customer and the government reimburses each 18c to the filling station.

The prices displayed outside filling stations will include the discount, plus VAT, so expect to see a sudden fall in prices on the display boards.

How long does it last?

This rebate is in place until July 31st, but there is the option to extend it and it seems likely that this is what the government will do, depending on the international context.

Any other help?

As mentioned above, if you drive for work you may also be entitled to claim a tax rebate.

The French government has frozen gas and electricity prices to a maximum rise of 4 percent until June and the €100 chèque energie – to help people on lower incomes cope with rising fuel prices – has been arriving in bank accounts over the past few weeks.

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LIVING IN FRANCE

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. 

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