Markets, pests and public transport: 6 essential articles for life in France

From Constitutional changes to Christmas markets, via Paris transport issues, pest control and festive strikes - here are half-a-dozen must-read articles for life in France.

Markets, pests and public transport: 6 essential articles for life in France
The French city of Saint-Etienne lights up for Christmas. Photo by JEAN-CHRISTOPHE VERHAEGEN / AFP

Lawmakers in the French parliament voted to add the right to abortion to the constitution in response to recent changes in the United States and Poland. But how easy is it to amend the Constitution in France? We explain…

Can France’s Constitution be changed to add the right to abortion?

France’s former Prime Minister Jean Castex is set to take charge of Paris’s RATP transport network and says he ‘looks forward’ to the job ahead – here are 10 of the biggest challenges he faces.

The 10 problems with Paris transport system France’s ex-PM must deal with

Speaking of transport issues in the capital – are e-scooters an essential new part of the Paris’ transportation landscape or a dangerous menace to pedestrians and motorists alike? Readers of The Local weighed in on whether the city should ban rental schemes.

Inherently unsafe’ – Why Paris readers want e-scooter rental schemes banned

You may not want to think about them, but pests (of the animal and fungal kind) are a common part of the experience of living in France, particularly in the cities – here’s what you need to know if you have unwelcome visitors in your home.

Bedbugs, mice, and mould: How to handle infestations in your French home

Let’s move on to happier thoughts – sort of. Christmas time; mistletoe and strikes… for the past two Christmases strict Covid-19 rules prevented many people from travelling. This year that isn’t an issue, but there are strikes, service reductions and high ticket prices to contend with.

Strikes, prices and services – what you need to know about Christmas travel to France

But, once you’re in France, you do get to enjoy a proper seasonal spectacle as, towns and cities across France get into the festive spirit. Here’s our list of go-to seasonal markets, fetes and fairs.

14 of the best Christmas markets in France in 2022

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Timbre fiscal: Everything you need to know about France’s finance stamps

If you're doing a French admin task, you might be asked to provide a 'timbre fiscale' - here's what these are and how to get them.

Timbre fiscal: Everything you need to know about France's finance stamps

In France, you can buy  a very particular kind of stamp to cover the cost of a titre de séjour, or French passport, to pay your taxes, get an ID card if you’re eligible, or pay for your driving licence.

Basically a timbre fiscale is a way of paying a fee to the government, and some online processes – such as the tax offices – now have the more modern method of a bank transfer or card payment.

However there are plenty of official tasks that still demand a timbre fiscale.

In the pre-internet days, this was a way of sending money safely and securely to the government and involved an actual physical stamp – you bought stamps to the value of the money you owned, stuck them onto a card and posted them to government office.

They could be used for anything from paying your taxes to fees for administrative processes like getting a new passport or residency card.

These days the stamps are digital. You will receive, instead, either a pdf document with a QR code that can be scanned from a phone or tablet, or an SMS with a unique 16-digit figure. Both will be accepted by the agency you are dealing with.

Once you have the code you need, you can add this to any online process that requires timbre fiscaux (the plural) and that will complete your dossier.

You can buy them from a properly equipped tabac, at your nearest trésorerie, or online

Paper stamps remain available in France’s overseas départements, but have been gradually phased out in mainland France.