Summer jobs, European rail holidays and taxes: 6 essential articles for life in France

What happens if you fail to file your French tax return in time; what you need to know about landing a summer job; the European cities an easy train ride from Paris and a heart-stopping video of a daredevil in action. Here are our latest must-reads for anyone living in France

Summer jobs, European rail holidays and taxes: 6 essential articles for life in France
French tightrope walker Nathan Paulin walks on a slackline in the bay of Le Mont Saint-Michel, north-western France, during his world record distance attempt, on May 24, 2022. (Photo by DAMIEN MEYER / AFP)

As anyone who has lived in France for any length of time knows, the deadlines for the annual tax declaration are upon us.

But what are the penalties if you either miss the deadline or fail to file your return at all? We take a look at the sanctions – and explain where you can go for help if you’re having problems with your return.

Late fees, fines and charges: What you risk by missing French tax deadlines

Temperatures may have dipped in recent days, but we’re at the start of what promises to be another warm summer in France … and there’s already another frustratingly predictable row brewing over the Burkini, with a court blocking the city of Grenoble’s decision to allow the swimwear

If France wants to take its place in a multicultural world then it must make room for all its citizens, writes civil liberties expert Rim-Sarah Alouane.

OPINION: If France is to belong in a multicultural world it must accept its Muslim women

Speaking of summer, as the holidays approach in France, many employers are looking for seasonal workers – so if you’re looking for a seasonal job, here’s how to go about it, and the rules you need to know.

How to get a summer job in France

It’s around this time of year that many second home-owners head out to their place in the country. And some will discover an issue or two that needs fixing.

Plumbing emergencies are common in France, so here’s our guide to what to do, who to call and the phrases you will need if water starts gushing in unexpected areas.

Plumbing Emergencies in France: Who to call and what to say

Rail travel is a more relaxed, environmentally friendly way to travel than flying – but some argue that the time it takes to get from A to B is an inconvenience too many … so we’ve checked the timetables to find six European cities you can reach by train from Paris in a few hours.

6 European cities less than seven hours from France by train

And finally… French daredevil slackline walker Nathan Paulin claimed a new world record as he completed a 2,200-metre (nearly 1.4-mile) trip to Mont Saint-Michel along a wire suspended between a crane and the famous abbey on the tidal island.

VIDEO: French daredevil beats tightrope record with Mont Saint-Michel crossing

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MAP: The 20 cheapest French towns and cities to live in

The cost of living is a hot topic in France and across Europe right now - so where are the cheapest places to live?

MAP: The 20 cheapest French towns and cities to live in

At a time when purchasing power has never been so central to French people’s concerns, French daily Le Parisien has compiled a list of towns and cities where your money will go the furthest.

In order to produce this ranking, Le Parisien compiled the average salary in each location and then looked at the price of the average supermarket shop, the cost of transport (fuel as well as public transport), property prices (to buy or rent), property tax rates and the cost of a cinema ticket. 

READ ALSO Food, fuel and transport: Which prices will rise in France in 2023?

And it turns out smaller is better.

Of the 96 towns and cities tested, Niort, in the département of Deux-Sèvres in south west France (population around 60,000) came top,

Laval, in Mayenne (population around 50,000) was third; Saint-Brieuc, in the Brittany département of Côtes-d’Armor (population around 45,000), was 8th, and Rodez, down in the southern département of Aveyron (pop: c 25,000) was 10th.

The 20 most wallet-friendly towns in France are:

  1. Niort
  2. Châteauroux
  3. Laval
  4. Nevers
  5. Belfort
  6. Chaumont
  7. Épinal
  8. Saint-Brieuc
  9. Saint-Étienne
  10. Rodez
  11. Châlons-en-Champagne
  12. Quimper
  13. Arras
  14. Foix
  15. Poitiers
  16. Le Mans
  17. Colmar
  18. Montauban
  19. Bourg-en-Bresse
  20. Nantes

READ ALSO The 20 small towns most popular with house-hunters in France

Niort gains, the study found, in part because it has offered free local public transport since 2017 - a policy that other towns that rank well also implement, including second-placed Châteauroux (Indre), Bourg-en-Bresse (Ain, 24th) and Gap (Hautes-Alpes, 63rd).

For various reasons, including infrastructure, offering free public transport that meets higher levels of demand in larger cities is unviable, the report said. 

In fact, France’s larger cities are noticeably low in Le Parisien’s rankings. Lyon stumbled on to the list in 58th, Paris in 77th, Marseille 84th, and Montpellier 90th. Nantes, coming in 20th, is the only ‘large city’ representative in the top 20.

READ ALSO Wild boar, fast internet and kindly neighbours – why small-town France has the best of all worlds

The report stated that, despite salaries being little higher than average in larger conurbations, people also pay more for shopping, public transport, movie tickets, and housing.

The survey found that, on the whole, your euro goes further in the west of the country - where supermarkets are cheaper, and towns aren’t too congested, while the cost of a tank of fuel is lower, as are - researchers discovered - the more abstract costs, such as insurance, for the same level of service as elsewhere.

READ ALSO OPINION: An inflation ‘tsunami’ is about to hit France

Eastern France, the study found, benefited from relatively cheap property prices - offering more bang for a house-buying buck than the expensive ‘coastal bounce’-affected south or the Ile-de-France region, which orbits the cost-of-living singularity that is Paris.