Travel, cake and taxes: 6 essential articles for life in France

From a glimmer of hope for UK travellers to the France's high-speed internet plans, via one final Christmas treat, here's our pick of six recent articles that will help you to better understand life in France.

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French internet coverage and mobile roaming charges in the EU were among our recent headlines. Photo: Denis Charlet / AFP

After tightening travel restrictions to and from the UK the weekend before Christmas in an ultimately failed attempt to stop the Omicron variant sweeping across France, the French government this week decided to relax some of its travel measures.

The first raft of changes are relatively small, and focus on a slight enlargement of France’s “essential travel” category. So, for now some questions remain – and we’ve done our best to answer as many as we can.

When will France fully lift travel restrictions on the UK?

Throughout the pandemic, with all its travel restrictions, curfews, work from home rules and lockdown (remember Spring 2020?), online communication exploded. Meetings took place via Zoom, while Slack took the online intra-business chat world by storm. Streaming video on demand services like Netflix, Amazon Prime and Disney Plus picked up subscribers by the bucketload. 

Now, France claims to have the widest high-speed internet coverage of any country in Europe. Two-thirds of French households currently have access to high-speed internet. The government wants to ensure that 80 percent of French households will have access by the end of 2022 and that the entire country is covered by 2025. 

So we asked the obvious question: Is France’s plan for nationwide high-speed internet by 2025 on track? If you live in a bit of France that currently does not benefit from high-speed internet access, you may be surprised.

And we found that France’s electronic communications regulator, ARCEP, knows when the remaining 33 percent of the country will join the high-speed internet revolution.

MAP: When will my part of rural France get high-speed internet?

Meanwhile, as UK mobile phone network operators get ready to reintroduce roaming charges, while most EU operators seem set to keep the ‘free to roam’ status quo we outline what new charges are in store for travellers from the UK to France and beyond.

How roaming charges will hit travellers between the UK and EU in 2022

Christmas may be over for another year, as the French return to work – but they don’t  like to let the festive period go without one final hurrah. Cue Epiphany, officially the Christian holiday commemorating the Magi’s visit to the baby Jesus. 

In France, that’s an excuse to put off the diet just a while longer and enjoy one last blowout on a delicious galette des rois. Or two. Or three. Sadly, there’s a higher price this year than your expanding waistline…

Why the French Galette des Rois is getting more expensive

Speaking of paying the piper, here are a few important financial dates for your diaries in 2022.

The French tax calendar for 2022 – which taxes are due when?

Finally, from Brits needing residency cards to free contraception, here are some of the changes coming to France this year you should know about. 

What changes in France in 2022?

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Car hire, grocery shopping and being veggie: 6 essential articles for life in France

From the shortage of available cars for rent in France this summer, to gaining French citizenship through ancestry, new tests for motorbikes and being vegetarian in a carnivore country - here are six articles you need to read to understand modern life in France.

Car hire, grocery shopping and being veggie: 6 essential articles for life in France

With life returning to near-normal, pre-Covid conditions, tourism is booming. France is set to be a popular holiday destination this summer – but renting a vehicle could cost you a lot of money because of a combination of very high demand and reduced stocks.

So, if you are coming to France over the summer, and plan to hire a car to get around, we have some advice for you.

‘Book now’ – rental cars set to be scarce and expensive in France this summer

Bikers probably won’t like it – they campaigned hard to get the government to delay these measures until 2023 when they were first supposed to be brought in – but France’s highest administrative court has ruled that, from October, older motorbikes must undertake regular roadworthiness tests.

We explain more.

Contrôle technique: Motorbikes in France now need roadworthy tests

News broke last week that the father of Britain’s Brexit Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been granted French citizenship by ancestry.

We explain how you could do the same thing. Spoiler: it’s not easy.

How to obtain French citizenship through ancestry

Historically, France and vegetarianism don’t really mix. The consensus seems to be the country’s getting better at it, but there’s a way to go, yet.

While this can be frustrating, it also leads to some pretty memorable and funny experiences as our readers attest to in their accounts here.

‘My vegetarian crêpe was covered in crab and lobster’: Stories of going meat-free in France

And we also have some practical tips for veggies.

‘Call the restaurant’ – your tips for beging vegetarian or vegan in France

Speaking of food, with rising inflation and cost of living, many people in France are desperate to keep their grocery bills low.

Here are a few tips for how to avoid paying too much for food, drink and other everyday items. It won’t solve everything, but it may make things a little bit easier.

7 tips to keep your grocery shopping in France affordable

And finally, you may have noticed that the air where you are in France has been filled with drifting balls of white fluff. Fortunately, it’s perfectly natural and normal – there’s just a bit more of it this year. We explain exactly what it is.

What’s all that white fluff drifting around France?