This week in France: What you need to know

From the introduction of the vaccine pass to the outlining of a European dream, here's what is coming up this week in France.

This week in France: What you need to know
Photo: John Thys/AFP

The government hopes to move ahead with the conversion of the health pass into a vaccine pass some time this week after the bill was passed on a final reading in the French parliament. The exact date is yet to be confirmed, but Friday, January 21st looks likely.

EXPLAINED What changes when France’s health pass becomes a vaccine pass? 

Also a reminder that deactivation of health passes for over 18s who do not have a booster shot is now underway, along with a new travel regime for the UK.


A decision is expected from the courts over far-right TV pundit and presidential candidate Eric Zemmour, who is accused of inciting hatred against migrants, specifically unaccompanied children, in 2020.

Beginning of the international comedy film festival Festival de l’Alpe d’Huez in Isère, eastern France.


Calls for strike action among workers in the medico-social sector over working conditions. The strike is likely to involve demos and working to rule, rather than workers walking out on their jobs.

Launch of Paris fashion week. Most fashion houses have returned to live fashion shows, with health measures in place, after last year’s largely virtual shows. Fashion week begins with menswear.


French president Emmanuel Macron travels to Strasbourg to address the European Parliament, laying out his plans for France’s six-month stint as presidency of the EU.


The only surviving member of the group accused of taking part in the November 13th terror attacks at Paris venues including the Bataclan is expected to give evidence to the court. The trial into the November 13 attacks – France’s biggest ever trial – opened in September 2021 and is expected to last until May. In total 20 defendants are on trial but only Sahlah Abdelslam is accused of being one of the attackers – the rest all died either at the scene or in later police actions. 

French teaching unions are calling for renewed strikes against the government’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic in schools. 


Possible start date for the vaccine pass, although this is yet to be confirmed.

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On the agenda: What’s happening in France this week

A new Prime Minister, Covid rules relaxed, Cannes kicks off, and election candidates must confirm their plan to run for office - here’s what’s happening in France this week

On the agenda: What’s happening in France this week


Public transport mask mandates – The requirement to wear a facemask on public transport in France was dropped on Monday, as Covid-19 cases fall across the country. But it remains compulsory to wear one in nursing homes, hospitals and other medical centres. France’s decision to drop mask mandates on public transport coincides with a Europe-wide relaxation of rules for flights. Local rules will still apply, and airlines can still require passengers to wear facemasks.

PM to quit – Prime Minister Jean Castex has already handed in his ‘very simple, very classic’ resignation letter to re-elected President Emmanuel Macron and officially stand down, allowing President Emmanuel Macron – three weeks after his re-election – to begin his second term with a fresh cabinet.

It has been rumoured that Macron will name a female PM, with Audrey Azoulay – who has been Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) since 2017 – one of those namechecked in dispatches. If he does choose a woman, she will become France’s second female PM after Edith Cresson, who held the post between May 1991 and April 1992.

Burkini rules – Grenoble, in southeastern France, is set to reignite one of France’s recurring summer debates when it votes to authorise the “burkini” in state-run swimming pools.

The all-in-one swimsuit, used by some Muslim women to cover their bodies and hair while bathing, has become almost as topical as ice cream and sun hats during the holiday season in recent years. Seen as a symbol of creeping Islamism by its critics and an affront to France’s secular traditions, many right-wingers and some feminists would like to ban it outright. It is prohibited in most state-run pools – for hygiene rather than religious reasons reasons — the same strict swimwear rules mean men are required to squeeze into tight-fitting trunks.

But the city council, dominated by the EELV green party, is set to scrap its bathing dress code on Monday, effectively authorising long body coverings, beach shorts and topless bathing.


Phew, what a scorcher – It was warm last week. It’s set to get even hotter this week, as a ‘heat dome’ settles over France after weekend storms in the north and west. The southwest of the country, in particular, will be hot from Tuesday May 17th, with temperatures set to top 30C across most of the country, and 35C in the southwest. Combined with high humidity, it’s set to feel closer to 40C in parts during the day, forecasters have warned, while night-time temperatures are expected to hover around 20C. The stickiest conditions are expected between Tuesday and Thursday, with the dome set to break up on Friday.

Cannes do – The 75th Cannes Festival opens in the glamorous town on the south coast of France with the premiere of Michel Hazanavicius’ zombie movie “Z”. 

Rock n roll – The smashed guitar that finally broke up Oasis will be one of a number of big-ticket items going under the hammer at an auction at Hôtel Drouot in Paris. Noel Gallagher’s guitar is expected to fetch between €300,000 and €500,000.


Candidates assemble – It’s the last day for candidates for next month’s legislative elections in France to officially confirm they will run for election.


Sport – Defending champions Barcelona take on seven-time winners Lyon in the UEFA Women’s Champions League final in Turin. The French side are the most successful team in the competition.


May 22nd marks the start of the French Open tennis tournament at Roland Garros. It will run until the men’s final on June 5th.