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Alcohol limits, training days and an app: How France plans to make hunting safer

The French government has laid out a 14-point plan to make hunting safer after growing controversy over the number of hunting accidents, including fatalities. Here's what the plan involves.

Alcohol limits, training days and an app: How France plans to make hunting safer
A sign indicating "hunting in progress" on the top of the Hautacam hiking trail, southwestern France on January 7, 2023. (Photo by Charly TRIBALLEAU / AFP)

With the stated goal of “zero hunting accidents,” France’s junior environment minister, Bérangère Couillard, on Monday unveiled the 14 measures the country plans to take in order to make hunting safer.

Over one million people go hunting every year, making it the sport with the third highest number of registered participants in France.

But it is becoming increasing controversial due to the number of accidents around la chasse (which usually means shooting) – including high profile cases in which passing hikers, dog-walkers, cyclists and even drivers have been shot by mistake by hunters.

READ ALSO ‘Like the wild west’ – life in rural France during the hunting season

During a press conference on Monday morning in Loiret, Couillard outlined the tenants of the 2023 Hunting Safety Plan. Here’s what it says;

No ban on Sunday hunting

Even though a ban on hunting on Sundays, public holidays and during school holidays had been called for by several associations and MPs, the National Federation of Hunters (FNC), was fiercely opposed to it. Members of the French government, including President Emmanuel Macron, had also spoken out in opposition to this measure.

Nevertheless, almost 80 percent of the French public favour a hunting ban on Sundays, polling firm IFOP found in December.

READ MORE: Everything you need to know about France’s hunting season

In explanation for why the ban was not included, Couillard said that “nothing says that Sunday is the most accident-prone day.” She elaborated, adding that “Thursday is the most accident-prone day” in fact.

The junior environment minister added that during the period of 2000 and 2003, when hunting was banned on Wednesdays, there “were more accidents during this period.”

“We want to see better safety, seven days a week,” Couillon added.

Safety rules and training

The government will introduce mandatory training for all hunt ‘organisers.’ These training sessions will not be simply theoretical, but they will also have ‘hands-on’ portions.

“By the end of 2025, all hunt organisers (around 200,000 people) will have received training from the federations. The courses will be created alongside the French Biodiversity Office.

“They will remind hunters, in particular, of the safety rules and the challenges of communicating with local residents,” Couillard said.

All hunters, not simply the organisers, will have to undertake a training course every 10 years. 

The French government also offered plans to harmonise hunting safety rules throughout the country, starting with the 2023-2024 season. While these have not been decided upon yet, they may include standardising the wearing of fluorescent jackets or instituting a 30′ hunting angle (meaning not firing the weapon on the peripherals), for example.

The hunting plan will also allow for the better monitoring of weapon possession in France, as well as the national registry of persons banned from acquiring and holding weapons.

Alcohol restrictions

The government will also institute a fine – put in place in early 2023 – to punish any person caught hunting under the influence of alcohol. According to Franceinfo, it will be forbidden to hunt with an alcohol content of 0.5 grams per litre of blood. This equates to approximately two glasses of wine, depending on the individual. 

Also, the FNC (National Hunters’ Federation) has backed a new criminal offence of hunting under the influence, similar to that in force for drivers.

The app

The junior environment minister discussed plans to roll out a new tool: an app where hunters will have to report active hunts.

The aim is to “promote and centralise information on hunting locations and times” in a way that is “available on a digital platform” and open for all to access, explained Couillard.

The app is expected to be available in autumn – when the next hunting season opens – and it should allow all people in France to identify whether any hunts are going on near their homes. 

The Secretary of State’s aim is to achieve peaceful cohabitation with the introduction of an application identifying the areas hunted: “Declarations of hunts will be compulsory from September 2023.”

One of the main complaints of residents in rural France is that it is hard to find out where hunts are taking place, and therefore which areas to avoid when hiking, cycling or dog-walking. 

Hunting signs

By September 2025 (at the latest) France will standardise the usage of hunting signs throughout the country. Additionally, starting in September, communal hunting associations (ACA) will have to display ‘hunting days’ at the town hall, to better inform residents of the area. 

Hunters must already by law display signs when la chasse is underway, but application of this is patchy around the country.

Tougher penalties for hunting accidents

The hunting safety plan will also introduce stiffer penalties for accidents where hunters are found to be at fault.

“Depending on the seriousness of the offence, the government hopes to strengthen penalties like the withdrawing hunting licences or placing bans on renewing the licence,” Couillard said.

READ MORE: French hunter ‘sorry’ after killing Franco-British man he mistook for boar

Statistics show hunting accidents have been on the decline in France over the past 20 years, but are still common.

In 2021-2022 the French Office of Biodiversity counted 90 hunting accidents (physical injuries linked to the use of a hunting weapon), compared to 80 in the previous season. Of these accidents, eight were fatal – six of the people who died were hunters and the other two were passers-by unconnected to the hunt.

Over the weekend, an 84-year-old hunter in Corsica accidentally shot himself dead as he was stowing his gun in his car.

Member comments

  1. So basically a non event! Putting hunting days on an app doesn’t mean 90% of the population will see it, and it puts the onus on non hunters to find out what is happening! As for an alcohol limit? More importantly the arrogance of the hunters has to be addressed, they seem to think they have precedent. However, I am not sure how that could be achieved other than a total ban.

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EXPLAINED: How to get a mobile phone contract in France

This is one of the first administrative steps you will need to handle after moving to France, here's what to expect.

EXPLAINED: How to get a mobile phone contract in France

If you are planning to spend extended time in France, you will likely want to set up a French mobile phone (cell phone) contract. 

Having a French phone number can be crucial when organising apartment visits, signing up for certain subscriptions, and setting up utilities bills in your French home.

Keep in mind that if you want to use your mobile phone from your home country, you will need to verify that it is unlocked and compatible with a new SIM card. You can check this with your previous provider. 

The main operators

There are four main cell phone service operators in France, Bouygues Telecom, Free, Orange and SFR. 

There are also some smaller operators that might offer less expensive plans, such as Prixtel or La Poste Mobile. 

Orange is often touted as the best telephone operator in France, and it is one of the world’s leading telecommunications companies with over 266 million clients across the world.

In France, however, Orange technically comes in second place to SFR for 4G coverage across the territory. According to data from France’s national frequency agency (ANFR), SFR covers 95 percent of the country with 4G access, while Orange and Bouygues both cover 94 percent and Free covers 92 percent.

As for 5G coverage, which began in 2020 in France, there is still a lot of room for improvement. In June 2023, Free had deployed the most 5G antennas, with 16,644 across the country. Bouygues came in second place, having set up 9,942. As for SFR and Orange, they came in third and fourth place, with 8,936 and 6,267 antennas respectively.

That being said, those figures only show antennas constructed – Orange had still activated the most 5G sites. 

How do they compare in price?

When it comes to price, the main four mobile phone operators keep costs similar. For 100 GB of data, as of September 2023, Orange offered a monthly deal of €16.99 for the first year, and then €31.99 after 12 months.

As for Bouygues and SFR, for a phone plan (forfait) with 100 GB of data you could expect to pay €15.99 per month fo the first year, and then €30.99 afterwards.

Free did not have a plan offering 100 GB as of September 2023, but its closest option offered 120 GB for €12.99 per month for the first year, and then €19.99 afterwards.

For plans with at least 200GB of data, you would pay more. Orange offered one for €32.99 for the first year and then €44.99 later on, Bouygues and SFR offered similar deals with €31.99 a year and €44.99 after 12 months.

Meanwhile, Free offered 250 GB for €19.99.

Keep in mind that you can also choose a ‘sans engagement’ plan, which means even if you sign a contract you can cancel it at the end of the month. 

Many phone contracts will be ‘avec engagement’ (or just engagement). This usually means that for a specified period of time –  typically one year – you pay the discounted price and then after that you may pay a higher price but you can cancel when you’d like to.

Beware that with these types of plans, if you try to cancel before the engagement period is finished, you could be asked to pay the remaining fees.

The other differences between contracts will depend on whether they allow you to use the service outside of France, and whether they charge a SIM card activation fee (for example – SFR charges €10).  

Some plans offer discounted rates for those who also use their service for internet or cable. 

Do I need a permanent address or French bank account to set up a plan?

It depends on the company. As of 2023, Free was one of the cell service operators that allowed clients to purchase a new SIM card using just a credit or debit card with one of their kiosks. 

For this purchase, only a valid bank card and email address were required. 

However, other cell service operators tend to require at least some of the following: a valid proof of identity (eg. passport), address in France (eg. utility bill or lease), or a French bank account for payment. 

What if I am visiting for a short/ defined period?

If you are travelling for a longer period of time it might work out cheaper to turn off your phone data and buy a pre-paid SIM or E-SIM card in France.

In order to get a pre-paid SIM card, you will need your passport or proof of identity (drivers’ licences do not count).

Keep in mind that you will not be able to use your normal phone number with the new SIM card in, but will be able to access your internet enabled messaging services, like WhatsApp, Facebook and iMessage. Your phone will need to be ‘unlocked’ (ask your carrier about whether yours is) in order to put a new SIM card in.

You can find more information with The Local’s tips guide for how visitors can avoid roaming charges.

READ MORE: How to avoid huge ‘roaming’ phone bills while visiting France

How can I cancel a French phone contract?

Prior to cancelling, you should again verify whether you are sous engagement (under contract) and if so, for how long. 

As of September 2023, it has been a legal requirement for companies to offer ‘cancellation in under three clicks’ directly on their websites. This would be done in your online space.

Your operator has 10 working days to cancel the contract once you have made the request. 

Some phone services might allow you to cancel by calling as well, but if you want to be entirely certain that your cancellation request has been sent and received you should send a lettre recommandée

READ MORE: Lettre recommandée: Why you need them and how to send them in France

What if I want to keep a phone number in my home country?

Many foreigners living in France want to maintain a phone number in their home country, perhaps to verify dual-factor authorisations or receive banking information.

Some opt for services like ‘Google Voice’ to port their existing phone number. It is advised to do this prior to moving to France.