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Will Christmas trees be the next victim of France’s drought?

French Christmas tree growers are counting the cost as summer droughts have killed off tens of thousands of young trees.

Will Christmas trees be the next victim of France's drought?
Customers look at Christmas trees for sale outside the "O'Fleurs de Montmartre" florist in Paris in 2020. (Photo by ALAIN JOCARD / AFP)

France’s drought has had widespread impacts – with some villages even seeing their taps run dry.

Farmers have especially felt the impacts of this summer’s historic drought and heatwaves, as several industries, including French staples such as cheese production to wine have felt the affects – with Christmas tree growers also facing big losses.

Young fir trees (those that are under two years old) have been decimated by the drought, as their roots had not developed enough to dig deep enough to seek out water.

For Christian Colliette, a fir tree producer in Côte-d’Or, this will result in a significant loss in earnings. 

READ MORE: Fears for 2022 French wine vintages because of ‘stressed grapes’

Colliette told Franceinfo that losing the young trees will mean having to do “a lot of work over.” He explained to the French news site that “normally two-year-old trees have their roots more established and manage to resist. But with June temperatures that were close to 40C and a significant drought, conditions were not conducive for the plants to stay alive.”

He estimates that an entire generation of trees on his farm have been lost this summer – equivalent to about 20,000 plants. 

As a result, he and other Christmas tree producers will need to replace the lost trees. For Colliette, this will likely amount to at least €30,000 and lots of work digging new, deeper plots for the trees to hopefully remain alive.

This will not affect this festive season, as it will be the older trees (usually five years old or above) that are sold – though likely at a higher price due to inflation. 

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LIVING IN FRANCE

How and when to send Christmas presents from France

If you want to send Christmas presents to friends and family overseas you need to know the deadline dates and how to avoid being hit with extra charges - here's what you need to know.

How and when to send Christmas presents from France

Deadlines

First things first, you need to make sure your parcel arrives in time for Christmas, which means sending it before the deadline.

The French postal service La Poste has the following deadlines;

In Europe

If you’re sending a parcel within France, the deadline to have it delivered by Christmas is December 23rd. 

If you’re sending to the UK or Bulgaria, Cyprus, Spanish islands (eg Tenerife), Croatia, Finland, Greece, Ireland, Iceland, Malta, Norway, Portuguese islands (eg Madeira) or Romania you have until December 16th.

If you’re sending to Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden or Switzerland you have until December 17th.

If you’re sending to Germany, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands or Portugal you have until December 19th.

Outside Europe

If you’re sending to the USA, Canada, Australia, South Africa, New Zealand or Hong Kong you have until December 10th. Likewise if you’re sending to most French overseas territories, the deadline is December 10th.

For most other countries the deadline is December 3rd, but you can find the full list here

Private couriers like Fed-Ex and DPD have their own deadlines, although they are broadly in line with La Poste, and if you’re buying online each company has its own deadline on when it can guarantee a Christmas delivery.

Fees and customs declarations

If you’re sending parcels to another EU country then it’s pretty straightforward – just pay the delivery cost (you can check how much it will be to send via La Poste here) and make sure you send it before the deadline.

If, however, you are sending to a country outside the EU (which of course now includes the UK) then you will need to fill out a customs declaration form explaining what is in your parcel and whether it is a gift or not.

In addition to standard postal charges, you may also need to pay customs duties, depending on the value or your parcel and whether it is a gift or not. 

Find full details on customs duty rules HERE.

Banned items

And there are some items that are banned from the post – if you’re sending parcels to the US be aware that you cannot send alcohol through the mail as a private individual, so don’t try a ship some nice French wine or a bottle of your local liqueur. 

Most countries ban firearms and fireworks, not unreasonably, although be aware that this includes items like sparklers.

Sending food and plants is also often restricted with countries including Canada and Australia having strict rules and most other countries imposing restrictions on what you can send.

This also applies the other way and France bans any foodstuffs containing animal products (eg chocolate) sent from outside the EU. 

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