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What changes in France in December 2023

What changes in France in December 2023
People walk along the Champs-Elysees avenue in Paris after the inauguration of the annual Christmas illuminations (Photo by Miguel MEDINA / AFP)

From tax deadlines and a controversial immigration bill to Christmas bonuses and festivals, here's what changes in France in December 2023.

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Saint Nicolas Day

In Germany the festival of St Nicolas (December 6th) is a big deal and for historic reasons certain parts of France celebrate it too.

It’s not a public holiday but it is a day of celebration with small presents for children, parades in some towns and special gingerbread for everyone.

READ MORE: Saint Nicolas: The festival celebrated in parts of France on December 6th?

Immigration bill

France's wide-reaching immigration bill, with several new amendments added, has been approved by the Senate.

On December 11th, MPs in the Assemblée Nationale will begin debating it before taking a final vote. Before the debate begins however, it will be examined by MPs on the Commission des Lois (legal commission) to check that all aspects of the bill, including Senate amendment, comply with French law. 

READ MORE: How would France’s new immigration bill affect moving to France?

Christmas bonus

Each year, France gives certain households the Prime de Nöel, an end-of-year bonus, also known as the Christmas bonus. It is paid out each year around ten days before Christmas (usually December 15th). It is reserved for low-income households and those who qualify for the government's top-up benefit, RSA. This year, the amount will remain the same as last year €152.45 for a single person, €228.67 for a couple without children, €274.41 for a couple with one child and €320.14 for a couple with two children.

New state aid for victims of domestic violence

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Starting on December 1st, victims of domestic violence will become eligible for emergency financial assistance from the French government. In order to qualify, an application must be submitted to CAF - either online or in person. The aid is paid out "within three to five days", Aurore Bergé, France's minister for solidarity, told France Inter in late November.

Deadline to correct tax returns

If you made any mistakes - or noticed unintentional omissions - you can correct your French tax return. However, this is only available until Wednesday, December 6th. In order to do so, you must log onto your personal space on Impots.Gouv.Fr. You cannot change your address or marital status, however.

Vacant property tax

Owners of properties deemed to have been vacant (TLV) for at least one year must pay the vacant property tax. This is due by mid-December (usually the 15th) each year. 

READ MORE: Reader question: Who has to pay France’s 'vacant property' tax?

Metro closures in Paris and Marseille

In preparation for the 2024 Paris Olympics and the 'Grand Paris Express', several metro stations in Paris will be closed for works during the month of December. Others may close early, like Line 11. You can find the list of affected stations here.

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As part of a refurbishment project, the two lines of the Marseille metro system will close at 9:30pm on weekdays. This began in October 2023 and will remain in place for two years in an effort to test automated trains.

Ski resorts open

Most of France's high altitude ski resorts, including Courchevel, Méribel, and parts of Chamonix-Mont-Blanc (specifically 'Grands Montets'), open the first weekend of December. Other resorts, like Val Thorens opened early, in November, due to optimal weather conditions.

READ MORE: From high altitude to family friendly: 15 of the best French ski resorts

Christmas 

In France, December 25th is a holiday. Luckily, this year, it falls on a Monday, so there’s an extra day off for workers.

December 24th and 26th are not public holidays in most of France (the region of Alsace-Lorraine gets December 26th off for historic reasons) although quite a lot of businesses do let their employees take days off during these days. Many businesses will be closed. 

January 1st is also a holiday, and this year it falls on a Monday - so workers get another day off.

READ MORE: Why 2024 is a very good year for holidays in France

School holidays begin

Schoolchildren across France will have time off from Saturday, December 23rd to Monday, January 8th for the Christmas break. There is often heavy traffic on the roads the evening before the start of the school holidays and over that weekend, so keep this in mind when making your travel plans.

Winter festivals

The Fête des Lumières in Lyon is a magnificent event - between Thursday, December 7th and Sunday, December 10th, visitors can enjoy enchanting walks in an ever-changing sea of light and sound - including large projections over some of the city’s most beautiful monuments. You’ll find incredible exhibitions displayed over the facades of major landmarks and scattered around the city as you walk (perhaps with a vin chaud in hand).

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The winter of 2024 has plenty of other fun festivals - from Christmas markets in eastern France to music festivals on the western coast.

READ MORE: 10 of the best winter festivals in France

End of the bicycle bonus

The French government's scheme to help people purchase bicycles will come to an end on December 31st. The plan allowed people to receive up to €150 to go toward the purchase of a conventional bicycle, and up to €400 for the purchase of an electrically assisted bicycle.

Vehicles eligible for 'ecological bonus'

The French environment and energy agency (Ademe) will publish a list on Friday, December 15th with all of the vehicles eligible for state aid in the form of the 'ecological bonus'. This is meant to help people purchase new or used vehicles with a low carbon footprint. 

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