Inheritance tax to virtual reality: 6 essential articles for life in France

From health passes to inheritance tax via a virtual reality cathedral tour, here's our pick of the six articles that will help you to better understand life in France.

See inside Notre-Dame cathedral on a VR tour.
See inside Notre-Dame cathedral on a VR tour. Photo: Alain Jocard/AFP

Life in France can be pretty blissful – like when you’re sampling a local crémant and watching the sun set over the Promenade Anglais – but there are also some stressful and difficult parts.

Whether it’s language struggles, bureaucracy wrangles or just feeling like you don’t belong, it’s not always easy being foreign in France.

That’s why we have put together these quick and simple tips that can make life a bit easier with minimal effort.

France has brought in some changes to the health pass which has rapidly become essential for everyday activities like meeting friends for a drink or going to see a film.

From January 15th, all over 18s need to get a booster dose no later than seven months after receiving their last Covid vaccine – if they want to carry on using the health pass. Up to 800,000 people could have their health pass deactivated on Saturday when this rule comes into force. Tourists over the age of 18 will also need to have had a booster dose to use the French health pass.

Unless you’re a French politics expert, you might not have heard of parrainage.

We asked our regular columnist John Lichfield to explain this aspect of France’s electoral system, and why it could sink the presidential bid of far-right media pundit, Éric Zemmour.

“Village mayors are the forgotten heroes and heroines of French politics, hard-working, little paid and frequently ignored,” writes John.

“Once every five years, however, the micro-bosses of tiny places – there are at least 30,000 of them – become the most flattered and sought-after politicians in France.”

Read John’s piece on how these officials could take Zemmour down below: 

If you enjoy following politics, France is certain to have plenty of drama over the next four months as the presidential election hots up.

So we’ve put together a guide to the French words and phrases you might need to follow the election campaign – from the technicalities of the process to why candidates might be talking about power-washers.

They say there are only two certainties in life – death and taxes. But both could be getting a revamp in France. 

The French Economy Minister, Bruno Le Maire, has been flirting with the idea of reducing inheritance tax.  

We have used the occasion to write a handy guide on how the complex system of inheritance tax and succession rights work in France:

And on a cheerier note, a new virtual reality exhibition opens this weekend, allowing visitors to travel back in time to discover the history of Notre-Dame cathedral – from the 12th century up until now. During this 45-minute experience, visitors will be given a VR headset and witness key events in the cathedral’s story, meeting a number of historical characters along the way. 

The cathedral itself has remained largely closed to the public since being ravaged by a fire in 2019. You can read more about this project and watch a mind-blowing video in the story below. 

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What you need to know about microchipping your pet in France

Under French law, dogs, cats and ferrets that are kept as pets must be identified and registered on a national database.

What you need to know about microchipping your pet in France

The animal must be identifiable by a tattoo or microchip – the most common method – registered on the Identification des carnivores domestiques (I-CAD) database. 

All dogs aged four months and over, cats over seven months old, and ferrets born after November 1st, 2021, that are over seven months old that were, must be tagged in this way. This also offers pet owners peace of mind as it means they can be easily identified and returned if they go missing, as pets sometimes do.

READ ALSO Do you really need a licence if your cat has kittens in France?

The procedure to insert the microchip, or ink the tattoo, must be carried out by an approved professional. The procedure should be done by a vet and costs between €40 and €70.

For anyone who has travelled to France from another country with a pet, the animal will already be microchipped – and on the register. But if the animal joined a family while in France, a trip to the vet may be in order.

READ ALSO Paperwork and shots: How to bring a pet to France from the USA

Once the animal is registered on the database, the owner will receive a letter from I-CAD, along with a credit card-sized document listing the registered animal’s details, including its home address.

It is up to the owner to ensure the details remain correct, including notifying the database operators of any change of address. This can be done via the I-CAD website. Alternatively, you could use the Filalapat app (download for free here), or the more traditional postal service.

As well as declaring any change of address, you should also inform the database operators if you are giving up the animal, or if it dies.

Under a 2021, first-time buyers of cats or dogs have to sign a ‘certificate of commitment and understanding’ before they are allowed to purchase a pet. 

After the signed document is delivered to the authorities, future owners have seven days to change their mind – the idea is to prevent people from ‘impulsively’ buying pets only to abandon them later.