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What changes in France in February 2023?

From the carnival of lemons and pancake day to rising bills for homes and drivers and - of course - strikes, here is what is on the agenda for February 2023 in France.

What changes in France in February 2023?
Artists perform during the 137th Nice Carnival parade in Nice, southeastern France, on February 19, 2022. (Photo by Valery HACHE / AFP)

Strike action – As unions continue to protest the French government’s proposed pension reform – which includes raising the retirement age from 62 to 64 – more industrial action is likely throughout the month of February. As of January 27th – rail strikes were planned for February 7th and 8th, after two unions Sud-Rail and CGT-Cheminots filed renewable strike notices for ‘mid-February’ in addition to the two-day action for the 7th and 8th.

Unions representing ski resort workers – mainly lift operators – have filed “unlimited” strike notices that begin January 31st – so actions throughout February are possible. Additionally, oil refinery workers have threatened to strike for a period of 72 hours beginning on February 6th. You can keep up with ongoing strike action in France HERE.

READ MORE: Calendar: The latest French pension strike dates to remember

Pension reform – the bill for pension reform heads to parliament on February 6th for the first day of what are likely to be stormy debates. The government’s schedule is to have debates in both the Assemblée nationale and the Senate concluded by the end of March, with the bill coming into effect in September. We’ll see. 

Covid-19 self-isolation and testing – Starting February 1st, France will do away with compulsory self-isolation for people who test positive for Covid-19. Also, those who were around a person who tested positive for the virus (contact-cases) will no longer be required to test after exposure. Read more HERE.

Road Tolls – Toll rates on the main motorways across France are set to go up by an average of 4.75 percent starting on February 1st. More details here.

Olympics tickets – people who have been successful in the first round of the draw for Olympics tickets will be notified by email in mid February – and then have to go online to pick their events. Full details here.

Electricity bills – At the start of 2023, the French government increased the cap for energy price hikes. On January 1st, gas bills were allowed to rise by a maximum of 15 percent, and starting on February 1st, electricity bills will also be able to rise by a maximum of 15 percent. For the average household, this will represent an extra €20 a month. 

Fuel allowance – Motorists in France on low incomes who rely on their vehicles to get to and from work can now apply for the €100 fuel allowance – you can learn how to do so HERE. The request must be made before February 28th, 2023 on the website

Sales end – the winter sales in most of France end on February 7th, although in some border areas they end on January 29th.

READ MORE: Everything you need to know about France’s 2023 winter sales

Savings – Some potentially welcome personal finance news. The Banque de France announced in January that interest rates for the Livret A savings scheme will increase to three percent from February 1st. This impacts those who already have existing accounts open. You can learn more about Livret A savings accounts here.

School holidays – schools have a two-week holiday in February, but the exact date depends on which zone you are in. Zone A holidays run from February 4th to 20th, zone B holidays run from February 11th to 27th, and zone C holidays run from February 18th to March 6th. You can see which zone applies to you and your family with the graphic below:

Credit: Éducation Nationale

La Chandeleur –  February 2nd marks La Chandeleur aka the French pancake day. As well as eating lots of delicious crêpes, the French also have a complicated and fun set of superstitions around this day which apparently bring good luck for the year ahead.

READ MORE: La Chandeleur: The day the French get superstitious and go crazy over crepes

Nice Carnival – The Nice carnival is ranked among the top three in the world alongside Rio and Venice and has been going on since the 13th century. The carnival will start on February 10th, and a jam-packed calendar of activities is scheduled until February 26th. This year is the event’s 150th anniversary, and you can find more information about schedules and attending on the website here. Keep in mind that Nice is not the only French city that hosts a Carnival festival – other places like Colmar and Mulhouse also host smaller versions of the event.

Fête du Citron – When life gives you lemons…create a festival involving over 140 tonnes of citrus fruit and invite about 230,000 visitors annually? That is pretty much what Menton, a town on the French Riviera did in 1928 when a hotelier in the region wished to increase tourism. From parades to intricate lemon floats and exhibits – this year the lemon festival will run from February 11th to 26th. 

Retro car show in Paris – Rétromobile Paris is a show dedicated to classic cars. The second largest show of its kind in Europe, it happens yearly at the Porte de Versailles in Paris, welcoming over 100,000 visitors each year. This year marks the 47th edition, and it will run from February 1st through 5th. 

Ski world championships – The alpine ski world championships will be held in Courchevel Méribel from February 6th to 19th. You can find more information on their website here.

Flu vaccine campaign extended – The French government has extended its annual flu vaccination campaign until February 28th. You can learn more about getting a flu shot in France here.

Monthly lending rate adjusted – On January 20th, France’s Minister of Economy, Bruno Le Maire, announced that the timing for when lending rates are updated will be temporarily adjusted to help make borrowing less restrictive. From February 1st to July 1st, the lending rate (i.e. for mortgages, consumer loans, and other loans to local authorities) will be adjusted and updated on a monthly – rather than a quarterly – basis.

Train tickets – Starting on February 1st, the French national rail service, SNCF, will change its terms for exchanging and cancelling tickets. During the pandemic, SNCF allowed the free exchange or refund of tickets up to three days before departure. However, this will now be extended to seven days prior to departure, and related fees will be increased from €15 to €19, according to reporting by Le Parisien.

Student platform – On February 1st, the French government will launch its now “Mon Master” platform which will allow students and other applying for master’s programmes to do so on one single site that will provide access to the “entire range of master’s programmes in France,” according to the Ministry for Higher Education. This will put France’s 8,000 public and private master’s degree programmes together on the same website. Students will be able to send applications on the platform starting March 22nd.

Unemployment benefits – Starting February 1st, the duration of unemployment benefits will be reduced by 25 percent. This means that a person who may have previously qualified for 12 months of compensation will, beginning in February, only qualify for nine months worth of benefits. The new decree will keep a minimum benefit period of six months. This is part of the French government’s recent unemployment reform bill – you can find more information here.

Ride share and cab fares to increase – Local authorities will need to announce any increases in standard cab fare rates by February 1st. They will be able to raise standard rates by a maximum of four percent. The minimum price for a taxi journey will remain at €7.30, including for those in Paris, throughout 2023.

Uber and other rideshare drivers reached a landmark agreement to establish minimum wages in January. This means that a drivers will be owed a minimum income per trip of €7.65, “regardless of the application being used”. Ride share organisations also agreed to institute a minimum price for rides – setting it to at least €10.20 for the cheapest ride, which represents a rise of about 27 percent from previous minimum fares. These changes go into effect February 1st.

READ MORE: Uber reaches landmark agreement on drivers’ minimum wage in France

Renovation grants – Launched back in January 2020, the government scheme MaPrimeRénov’ lets homeowners apply for financial help to renovate their homes. Starting on February 1st, the French government will take into account rising inflation and will raise ceilings for the financing of renovation work. The amount offered will depend on your individual situation – for example, for the “copropriétés” scheme (people who live in shared buildings), the maximum renovation price will be increased from €15,000 to €25,000. For those with modest incomes looking to do energy renovation, the maximum amount will be raised from €30,000 to €35,000. You can learn more about MaPrimeRénov here.

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For members


What changes in France in April 2023?

From Easter holidays and practical jokes to spring festivals, a referendum on E-scooters and the final decision on controversial pension reform - here's what is happening in France in April.

What changes in France in April 2023?

Poisson d’avril 

April 1st is the day of ‘April fish’ – when France goes crazy for practical jokes. Basically France’s version of April Fool’s Day.

READER QUESTION: Can you explain the French ‘poisson d’avril’ tradition?

Benefit revision – To keep in line with inflation, social benefits, including as the family benefit offered by CAF will be increased starting on April 1st by 1.6 percent. This social benefit is intended for families with dependent children and is intended to help them with their expenses related to the education and maintenance of their children. The amount of the family allowance varies according to the number of dependent children and the household income. 

Other benefits, like the RSA, a work welfare benefit aimed at reducing the barrier to return to work, will also be increased by 1.6 percent.

READ MORE: France’s family benefit system explained

End of the winter ‘Trêve Hivernale‘ – During winter months, tenants who stop paying their rent cannot be evicted in France due to the trêve hivernale (winter truce). However, this ends on March 31st, meaning on April 1st evictions in France can begin again.

READ MORE: Trêve hivernale: Why you can’t be evicted in winter in France

Income tax declaration portal – Starting on April 13th, you will be able to go online to the Impots.Gouv.Fr website to filling in your tax declaration. Depending on your location and situation, you have between 6-8 weeks to file the declaration. Almost everyone who lives in France has to do this, as do some second-home owners with earnings here, and the deadline for doing so depends on how you declare and where you live. 

READ MORE: The French tax calendar for 2023 – which taxes are due when?

Easter – Easter Sunday falls on April 9th this year. Easter Monday – April 10th – is a holiday across France but Good Friday is only a day off work if you live in the Alsace-Lorraine region, for complicated historical reasons connected to wars with Germany.

Easter Monday will be the first public holiday of 2022 that doesn’t fall on a weekend. In 2023, only two of France’s 11 jours fériés fall on weekends – New Year’s Day (a Sunday) and Armistice Day (a Saturday).

May will be a particularly nice month, with four public holidays this year. Holidays that can be ‘bridged’ in 2023 are Ascension Day on Thursday, May 18th, and Assumption, on Tuesday, August 15th. 

Calendar: School and public holidays in France for 2023

Eid al-Fitr – Marking the end of month-long dawn-to-sunset fasting of Ramadan, the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr is expected to fall on April 21st or 22nd this year, depending on the lunar calendar.

Spring holidays for schools – Schools also get a two-week break around Easter time, but the exact dates vary between the different school holiday zones.  Zone A, which includes both Lyon and Bordeaux, has holidays from April 8th until April 24th. Zone B, which includes Aix-Marseille, Nice, and Strasbourg,  has holidays from April 15th until May 2nd. Finally, Zone C, which includes Paris, Toulouse and Montpellier, runs from April 22nd to May 9th.

READ ALSO Is there any kind of logic behind France’s school holiday zones?

Pension deadline – Friday, April 21st is the deadline for France’s Constitutional Council  to decide the fate of pension reform. The decision could come sooner, but this deadline could become an important date for action by unions. 

More strikes? It is possible that strike action will continue into April. Certain industries have called for rolling strikes that may continue into the month of April, as well. You can keep up to date with The Local’s strike calendar – found HERE.

Festivals – There are several festivals and activities happening across France this April. Starting with the annual music festival, the Printemps de Bourges, taking place in the central French town of Bourges. This is four-day music festival will run from April 18th to 23rd this year. It has a wide range of acts booked and it’s also a favourite place for scouts to sign new talent, so it’s a good place to hear the ‘next big thing’.

Next up – the Banlieues Bleues – Running most of the month of April (until the 21st), this will be the 40th year for the festival that has brought jazz and blues greats to Paris’ suburbs of Seine-Saint-Denis. The event consists of a series of concerts running over several weeks.

If you are a fan of ham, you may want to remember the dates for the Foire au Jambon – which will take place from April 6th – 9th. The Foire au Jambon started in 1462, and it takes place in Bayonne. It celebrates every stage of the creation of the famous hams that proudly bear the Basque town’s name. 

Finally – the Festival international du cerf-volant et du vent (Kite Festival) – taking place from April 8th – 10th. This will be held at the Châtelaillon-Plage in the south-west département of Charente-Maritimes. An annual event, people come to enjoy the big kites, little kites, competition kites, fighting kites and more. Plus, kite surfing and kite-building workshops. This event is perfect for families. You can find more information HERE

READ MORE: 14 places to visit and festivals to enjoy in France this Spring

Energy cheque – Some 5.8 million low-income households in France are set to finally receive their delayed 2023 “energy cheque” from April 21st, the government’s energy minister has announced. 

READ MORE: Millions of French households to be sent ‘energy cheque’ in April

In 2023, the French government has also created a benefit for households who primarily heat using wood. Applications must be submitted by April 30th for this. You can find out how to do so HERE.

Navigo pass reimbursement deadline – Public transport authorities in the Paris region have announced they will offer reimbursements for certain travel pass holders who suffered from delayed and limited services in 2022. The reimbursements will be allotted as part of two campaigns – one for people who held Navigo passes during the final months of 2022 and another focused on those who encountered the most difficulties with certain parts of the RER system during the calendar year of 2022.

To benefit, you must apply for the reimbursement online by April 14th. You can find more information HERE.

Paris marathon – Despite rumours that industrial action might lead to the cancellation of the Paris marathon, set to take place on Sunday, April 2nd, organisers told France Bleu that the event will go on as scheduled. The race will start around 8am at the Champs-Elysées.

Scooter referendum – Paris scooter referendum – inhabitants of Paris (or at least those on the electoral roll for the municipal elections, which does not include non-EU citizens living in the city) will be invited to vote on Sunday, April 2ns on whether to ban dockless electric scooters. The ride-hire scooters (trottinettes) have been the subject of much tighter regulation in recent years, but the citizens will get the final say on whether they should continue to be allowed. Privately-owned scooters are not affected.

READ MORE: ‘Inherently unsafe’ – Why Paris readers want e-scooter rental schemes banned

Paris café terraces extend – It was originally a Covid-related measure, allowing cafés to extend their terraces into adjoining outdoor space, parking spaces etc, but now the city of Paris has decided to allow extended terraces every summer, with a paid-for licence, from April 1st. The deputy mayor of Paris, Olivia Polski, confirmed to French daily Le Parisien that the terraces would make a comeback in 2023.

Olympics deadlines – The second phase for Olympics tickets – a draw for tickets to single events – began on March 15th. You can register for the draw until April 20th, 2023, 6pm CET. If you are chosen, you will receive word on May 9th by email. The portal to register as an Olympic volunteer is also currently open

READ MORE: Paris 2024 Olympics: How can I get tickets?