The week in France: What you need to know

There's a big legal change this week, as well as film awards and more school strikes.

The week in France: What you need to know
Having a beer in a café now requires proof of vaccination. Photo: Thomas Coex/AFP


Vaccine pass – France’s health pass becomes a vaccine pass today, meaning that negative Covid tests will no longer be accepted for entry to a wide range of venues including bars, cafés, restaurants, gyms, leisure centres, cinemas, theatres, tourist sites and long-distance trains.

If you are not fully vaccinated (which includes a booster shot for most adults, including those who are only visiting France) you will need either a certificate of Covid recovery or a certificate of medical exemption to enter the above venues.

Both the recovery certificates and medical exemptions need to conform to French formats – you can find them HERE and HERE.

The vaccine pass is required for everyone aged 16 and above, while children aged 12-15 can continue to use the health pass, which allows for a negative Covid test no more than 24 hours old.

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

Booster shots – Also on Monday, the Covid vaccine booster shot programme opens up to under 18s – here’s how teens and their parents can book appointments.

Rail strike – a rail strike on Monday will affect travel in the south west of the country as workers walk out in a dispute over pay and pensions.


Presidential trip – President Emmanuel Macron travels to Berlin for meetings with new German chancellor Olaf Scholz.

Anti-conversion therapy law – MPs adopt a law banning the use of so-called ‘conversion therapy’ for gay people. Although such practices were previously illegal, prosecutions relied on charges of assault or false imprisonment, rather a specifically targeted law.


Strike – there are calls for workers at electricity supplier EDF to strike in protest at the government measures to contain energy prices.

Film awards – publication of nominations for the 2022 César film awards, the French equivalent of the Oscars.


Left primary – voting begins on the Primaire populaire de la gauche – this is an attempt by the French left to unite under a single candidate in the 2022 presidential elections, rather than spilt the vote between multiple candidates from leftist and green parties. However, several high-profile candidates have said they will not take part. 

Schools strike – teaching unions have called for another one-day strike in protest over the government’s handling of Covid in schools. This will be the third consecutive Thursday of strikes, although last week saw just 2.5 percent of teachers walk out, according to the Interior Ministry. Unions say they are focusing on January 27th for a major day of action and protests.

READ ALSO Why are French teachers striking and what does it have to do with Ibiza?


Winter sales – The sales end in Meurthe-et-Moselle, Moselle, Meuse and Vosges. These départements, all in border areas, began their sales period earlier than the rest of France. In the rest of the country, sales run until Tuesday, February 8th.

Double payments – Sunday was the original end date for a scheme that gave double payments to any medical personal for overtime hours. However, health minister Olivier Véran has announced that this will be extended until February 28th in order to recognise the “exceptional mobilisation” of health workers during the current wave of Covid cases. 

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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.