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LIVING IN FRANCE

Phone bills, English-language films and Covid tests – 6 essential articles for life in France

From advice for non-EU citizens on how to avoid racking up massive phone charges in France to finding undubbed films and learning more about France's fiercest local rivalries, here are some must-read articles for life in France.

Phone bills, English-language films and Covid tests - 6 essential articles for life in France
Photo by Stefano RELLANDINI / AFP

Travelling without access to the internet is almost impossible these days. We use our phones for mapping applications, contacting the Airbnb, even scanning the QR code for the restaurant menu.

If you have a phone registered in an EU country you don’t need to worry, thanks to the EU’s cap on charges for people travelling, but everyone else needs to be careful with their phone use abroad. Here’s what you need to know.

How to avoid huge ‘roaming’ phone bills while visiting France

Speaking of travel … the virus that should not be named hasn’t gone away. Here are your questions answered on testing, isolation and medical treatment if you fall sick while on holiday.

Paxlovid, tests and isolation: Covid care for tourists in France

Going to the cinema is one of life’s joys for many people – and France, the home of Cannes, is well known as a nation of cinephiles.

But what if you want to enjoy an overseas film with its original language soundtrack rather than one that has been dubbed into French? You can do that…

Reader question: Can you avoid seeing a dubbed movie in French cinemas?

The risk of tsunamis in the Mediterranean Sea is real – on October 16th, 1979, a tsunami, caused by a landslide, hit the coast of Nice and killed a dozen people. More recently, the Greek island of Samos in the Aegean Sea was hit by a tsunami in 2020.

But the climate crisis and rising sea levels mean that experts fear they will no longer be rare events along the Mediterranean coast in the next 30 years.

French riviera: Unesco tsunami warning for Marseille and Cannes

In very much related environmental news, France has endured at least 43 heat waves have been detected since 1947, but they are becoming more alarming – with the latest one, before all the storms, breaking temperature records all over the place.

So, here is how the country plans to change the landscape of its cities in order to cope with ever-increasing canicules.

Trees to trams: How French cities are adapting to summer heatwaves

And finally … From football to breakfast pastries, France contains some fierce local rivalries which are mostly fought through words and gastronomy, but occasionally spill over into physical battles. Here’s a look at what near neighbours in France love to hate about each other.

Cassoulet to cider: Where are France’s fiercest local rivalries?

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CLIMATE CRISIS

French doctors advise ‘be more Spanish’ as heatwaves continue

With a fourth summer heatwave on the horizon for France, French doctors are advising their compatriots to copy Spanish habits to deal with the high temperatures.

French doctors advise 'be more Spanish' as heatwaves continue

France has had a dangerously hot summer – one that emergency doctor, Patrick Pelloux, estimates will lead to “5,000 to 10,000 excess deaths” by the end of the season.

French weather forecaster Météo France has repeatedly sounded the alert for dangerously high temperatures via its heat alert system – as of Wednesday, 18 départements are on ‘orange’ alert for high temperatures.

As a result, several emergency medicine doctors have announced new recommendations to help the French adapt and stay safe in the warmer temperatures.

Interestingly enough, it might involve mimicking the behaviours of France’s neighbours to the south – known for their heat adapted lifestyles (e.g. the afternoon siesta).

French daily Le Parisien, has even published a map comparing temperatures in French cities to those in Spain:

Here’s how these doctors recommend the French become more Spanish:

Alter the daily routine – Spain is famous for its afternoon siestas and late evening meals. In France the classic apéro or ‘happy hour’ usually begins at about 5 or 6pm with dinner at 7pm or 8pm, but during the heatwave many bar owners are reporting that terraces are empty at 5pm, and only fill up from 9pm when the temperatures start to fall.

Pelloux recommended to Le Parisien that the French may need to begin adjusting their working hours to avoid the hottest part of the day, but continue until later in the evening.

Another emergency medicine doctor, Agnès Ricard-Hibon, who works as head of the Samu du Val-d’Oise emergency unit, told the newspaper: “It is logical that we imitate the Spanish rhythm.

“When it’s very hot, you have to get up earlier and take a break in the afternoon, especially if you’re a vulnerable person with a risk of complications due to dehydration.”

It might also be recommended to extend the classic 12-2pm shop and office closure and keep shops closed during the high heat of the early afternoon, and instead take evening strolls at 8pm, rather than earlier.

Pelloux said that as France transitions “from a temperate to a tropical climate, we will have to stop working between noon and 5 pm.” 

No more tanning and goodbye suits – With skin cancer on the rise in France, experts worry about the popularity of the tanning trend, particularly during the hottest parts of the day.

Emergency physician Christophe Prudhomme told Le Parisien that it might be necessary to “close beaches at the hottest times” in order to keep people safe from the heat.

He also said we might have to change our fashion habits – dark coloured clothing, such as suits, hold in heat on hot days. Prudhomme recommends embracing fashion trends with more breathable fabric, such as cotton or linen.

In Spain, prime minister Pedro Sanchez is leading the way by announcing that he will no longer wear a tie when the weather is hot.

Lighter lunches – Ricard-Hibo told Le Parisien that as the days go by, we must learn to accept the heat and lighten our lunches.

Other experts recommend eating lots of hydrating foods during heatwaves, so maybe this is your opportunity to test out a particularly tasty gazpacho for your midday meal. The Local Spain has some other delicious recommendations to test out during the hot weather. 

READ MORE: The best Spanish food and drink to keep you cool during the summer heat

What about the official governmental advice? 

Meanwhile, the French government’s official advice is of course to drink plenty of water, but it is also a bit contradictory to the gazpacho suggestion – in the graphic below, you can see the French government recommending regular meals to keep from feeling faint in the high temperatures.

The government also recommends keeping the shutters closed, avoiding alcohol (maybe go light on the sangria), and staying cool by ‘getting your body wet’ whether that be by jumping in a fountain or standing in a brumisateurs (the machine that pumps out water vapour).

Eat sufficient meals and shut the shutters – French government advice for staying cool in a heatwave

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