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TECHNOLOGY

Flying a drone in France: What you need to know

Hoping to capture special moments like your upcoming hiking vacation or your friend's wedding with your newly purchased drone? Well, according to French rules for drone usage, you might not be allowed to do so, as recreational drones are highly regulated in France. 

Flying a drone in France: What you need to know
A man flies a drone during a demonstration at the 1st 'Drones Paris Region Expo' fair south of Paris in 2018. (Photo by Christophe ARCHAMBAULT / AFP)

On January 1st, 2021, the flying of recreational drones in France became subject to regulations developed by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), which aims to simplify and standardise the rules for all countries in the European Union.

But in France, the rules for owning and operating recreational drones were already quite strict. Most regulations apply across the board to drone owners and users, while some additional rules depend on when you purchased your drone and its size.

Here is what you need to know if you bought a drone and plan to operate it on French territory:

Determining your drone’s category

When purchasing your drone, you were likely informed of which category it fits into. Drones purchased before 2021 fall into categories based on weight, and drones purchased after 2021 also fall into categories by weight, but these are defined by groups ranging from “C0” to “C4.”

Class C0 groups the least dangerous devices, and class C3 is for the most dangerous. Class C4 concerns devices that are similar to “radio-modeling, without electronic assistance to piloting.”

Every drone sold after January 1st, 2023 will have to be CE marked with class indication. The only exceptions will be for privately built aircraft.

Age

To operate a recreational drone, you must be at least 14 years old.

The only exceptions to this are if you built the drone yourself and it weighs less than 250 grams (this applies to pre-2021 drones). Under 14’s can also operate drones if they are accompanied by a certified drone operator who is at least 16 years old themselves.

Location

There are several locations across France where drones are either strictly regulated or completely prohibited, such as near airports or military bases.

You can check to see whether there are height regulations, or whether using your drone entirely, is allowed in your location with this interactive map developed by the civil aviation authority in France. Click HERE

Height 

In France, recreational drones are not allowed to fly higher than 120 metres in height. As the user, you must always have your drone in sight, as well. The reason behind this rule is to ensure that the user maintains complete control of the drone, and that it is not lost due to strong winds or unexpected weather.

Registration and identification

Registering your drone depends on whether or not it is equipped with a recording device. If so, then you must register the drone with the civil aviation authority. Keep in mind this rule applies to the majority of drones – both those purchased prior to and after 2021.

You can do so HERE. Registration is typically valid for a maximum of five years. If you fail to register your drone and you are required to, then you could incur a fine of up to €750. 

Additionally, if your drone is pre-2021 and weighs more than 800 grams, then it must be equipped with an electronic alert device that broadcasts the identity of your drone at regular intervals while it is in flight.

Some drones purchased after-2021 must also be outfitted with a ‘remote identification system.’ You can read more HERE.  

Respect for privacy and filming people

All people in proximity of the drone must be informed about whether the device is capable of recording them in any way.

Images that can be used to identify people (faces, licence plates, etc) are not allowed unless the person has given you their permission. Recreational drones also cannot be used for commercial or professional purposes.

The French government outlines that in the case of the violation of privacy, by capturing, recording or broadcasting images or words of people without their consent, you risk incurring one year of imprisonment or a fine of up to €45,000. 

Flying in urban areas

Even if you launch your drone from your personal garden or a private space, you are still not permitted to fly it above public spaces when in a ‘built up area.’ If you have any doubts about what is considered a ‘built up area’, you can always refer to the interactive map above. 

Flying during the day

Recreational drones must be operated during daytime hours and are not permitted to be operated at night time. This applies even to those who have a proper kit for night time flying. “Night” is defined by the aeronautical night, which is the period thirty minutes after sunset until thirty minutes before sunrise.

Flying directly over people and sensitive sites

Most drones are not permitted to fly directly over people, as the loss of control could be dangerous for the people on the ground.

You must keep a safe distance from people and vehicles. The exact distance depends on the size of your drone – the heaviest drones must keep a distance of at least 150 metres away from residential, commercial, industrial and recreational areas. 

You are also not permitted to your drone near sensitive sites, such as airports, airfields, power plants, or high security locations. Doing so risks up to six months imprisonment, a fine ranging from €15,000 to €75,000, and the confiscation of your drone.

Required training

If your drone is a pre-2021 model and it weighs less than 250 grams, then you do not need to enroll in a course. However, if your pre-2021 drone is heavier than 250 grams then you must take an online class on how to operate it safely. 

For newer models, those drones marked CO are not required to take the training course, but it is recommended. For drones marked C1 through C4, the course is required. You can find it HERE.

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CULTURE

Asterix: Five things to know about France’s favourite character

Asterix is hitting the box offices again, so to celebrate here's a look at France's most treasured hero.

Asterix: Five things to know about France's favourite character

If you have walked past a bus stop anywhere in France in recent weeks, then you have likely run into film posters advertising Asterix and Obelix: The Middle Kingdom.

Starring high-profile French actors Marion Cotillard and Vincent Cassel, France’s film industry is hoping that this film, capitalising on France’s nostalgic relationship with the comic series “Asterix” will bring box office success.

The Asterix comic book series was first published in 1959, and tells the story of a small Gallic village on the coast of France that is attempting to defend itself from invaders, namely the Romans. Asterix, the hero of the series, manages to always save the day, helping his fellow Gauls keep the conquerors at bay.

As the beloved Gaulish hero makes his way back onto the big screen, here are five things you should know about France’s cherished series:

Asterix is seen as the ‘every day’ Frenchman

“Asterix brings together all of the identity-based clichés that form the basis of French culture”, Nicolas Rouvière, researcher at the University of Grenoble-Alps and expert in French comics, told AFP in an interview in 2015.

READ MORE: Bande dessinée: Why do the French love comic books so much?

The expert wrote in his 2014 book “Obelix Complex” that “the French like to look at themselves in this mirror [of the Asterix series], which reflects their qualities and shortcomings in a caricatured and complacent way”.

Oftentimes, the French will invoke Asterix – the man who protected France from the Roman invaders – when expressing their resistance toward something, whether that is imported, American fast food or an unpopular government reform.

The front page of French leftwing newspaper Libération shows President Emmanuel Macron as a Roman while Asterix and his team are the French people protesting against pension reform.

The figure of ‘a Gaul’ is a popular mascot for French sports teams, and you’ll even see people dressed up as Asterix on demos. 

A man dressed as Asterix the Gaul with a placard reading “Gaul, Borne breaks our balls” during a protest over the government’s proposed pension reform, in Paris on January 31, 2023. (Photo by JULIEN DE ROSA / AFP)

Asterix is the second best-selling comic series

The series has had great success in France since it was first launched in 1959, originally as Astérix le Gaulois. It has also been popular across much of Europe, as the series often traffics in tongue-in-cheek stereotypes of other European nations – for example, caricaturing the English as fans of lukewarm beer and tasteless foods.

Over the years, Asterix has been translated into more than 100 languages, with at least 375 million copies sold worldwide.

It remains the second best-selling comic series in the world, after the popular manga “One Piece”.

There is an Asterix theme park 

The French love Asterix so much that they created a theme park, located just 22 miles north of Paris, in the comic series’ honour in 1989.

The park receives up to two million visitors a year, making it the second most visited theme park in France, after Disneyland Paris. With over 40 attractions and six themed sections, inspired by the comic books, the park brings both young and old visitors each year. 

READ MORE: Six French ‘bandes dessinées’ to start with

The first French satellite was named after Asterix

As Asterix comes from the Greek word for ‘little star’, the French though it would be apt to name their first satellite, launched in 1965 after the Gaulish warrior.

As of 2023, the satellite was still orbiting the earth and will likely continue to do so for centuries to come.

Asterix’ co-authors were from immigrant backgrounds

Here’s become the ‘ultimate Frenchman’, but both creators of the Asterix series were second-generation French nationals, born in France in the 1920s to immigrant parents.

René Goscinny created the Asterix comic series alongside illustrator Albert Uderzo. Goscinny’s parents were Jewish immigrants from Poland. Born in Paris, René’s family moved to Argentina when he was young and he was raised there for the majority of his childhood. As for Albert Uderzo, his parents were Italian immigrants who settled in the Paris region.

Goscinny unexpectedly died at the age of 51, while writing Asterix in Belgium. From then on, Uderzo took over both writing and illustrating the series on his own, marking Goscinny’s death in the comic by illustrating dark skies for the remainder of the book.

In 1985, Uderzo received one of the highest distinctions in France – the Legion of Honour. Uderzo retired in 2011, but briefly came out of retirement in 2015 to commemorate the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists who were murdered in a terror attack by drawing two Asterix pictures honouring their memories.

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