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WHAT CHANGES IN FRANCE

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

From the French pancake festival to school holidays and another mass strike, here's what is happening in France this week.

On the Agenda: What's happening in France this week
Photo by FRED TANNEAU / AFP

Monday 

Anti-discrimination plan – Prime minister Elisabeth Borne will present the government plan to combat racism, anti-semitism and discrimination based on origins.

Tuesday

Strikes and demos – January 31st is the second ‘mass strike’ day in the ongoing battle between unions and the government over pension reform. Expect severe disruption on public transport, school closures and possible power cuts. The day will also be marked by demos in towns and cities across France – the last one saw 1 million people take to the streets, and unions are hoping for a similar turnout.

Pension strikes: What to expect on January 31st

Some unions have announced their intention to continue with industrial action into February, so keep an eye on the latest updates HERE

Wednesday

Immigration bill – the immigration bill – which includes, among other things a requirement for foreigners to take a language test in order to obtain certain types of carte de séjour – is presented to the Council of Minister, before it comes before parliament.

Language tests and easier expulsion – what’s in France’s new immigration bill?

Electricity bills rise – from Wednesday, domestic electricity bills can rise by a maximum of 15 percent after the 2022 price shield expires.

READ ALSO What changes in France in February

Thursday 

Pancake day – the French festival of La Chandeleur is a celebration of the crêpe. It’s not a public holiday, just a chance to eat lots of yummy pancakes and indulge in some of the stranger pancake-based rituals (crêpe on the wardrobe, anyone?) which are said to bring good luck for the year ahead.

La chandeleur: The day France goes crazy for crêpes

Saturday

School holidays – schools in zone A begin the two-week February holiday on Saturday. The February holidays have different dates in different zones, with one B beginning holidays on February 11th and zone C on February 18th.

Reader question: Is there any logic to France’s school holiday zones?

Sunday

Rugby – France take on Italy in Rome in the opening weekend of the 6 Nations rugby tournament, with the French team hoping to repeat last year’s result, which saw them win the tournament.

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WHAT CHANGES IN FRANCE

What changes in France in March 2024

From changes to supermarket prices and medical costs to Easter egg hunts, Francophonie Day and a slew of Impressionism exhibitions, here's what changes in France in March 2024.

What changes in France in March 2024

Supermarket deals

Sales and markdowns of non-food products in supermarkets will no longer be able to exceed 34 percent of the total price as the loi Descrozaille comes into force. The law is intended to better regulate the sale of certain non-food items such as hygiene or cleaning products.

READ ALSO France’s pricing law that curbs the power of supermarkets

Energy benefits

The energy voucher (chèque energie) paid to 5.6 million households on April 21st, 2023, to help them pay their electricity and gas bills, expires on March 31st, 2024.

A new energy voucher for the remainder of 2024 will shortly be mailed to the households concerned, to help them cope with rising energy prices.

Benefits

A 15-hour working week minimum will be required of anyone in receipt of Revenu de solidarité active (RSA) payments in 47 départements of France from March 1st, as a trial conducted in 18 départements is further rolled out. 

The initial 18 were: Aisne, Aveyron, Bouches-du-Rhône, Côte-d’Or, Creuse, Eure, Ille-et-Vilaine, Loire-Atlantique, Loiret, Mayenne, Métropole de Lyon, Nord, Pyrénées-Atlantiques, Réunion, Somme, Vosges, Yonne and Yvelines. The additional 29 départements have yet to be confirmed.

Medical charges

The French government announced in January a doubling of the franchises médicales from March 31st – this is the amount that is deducted from a medical cost before you are reimbursed. So for example for a €30 appointment, €1 would be deducted as the franchise medicale so that you will be reimbursed for the remaining €29 at the standard rate.

It applies to prescriptions, medical transport and appointments with nurses, physiotherapists and masseurs, speech therapists and eye specialists and is capped at €50 per year.

The deduction from prescriptions will increase from €0.50 to €1.

The deduction for ‘paramedical procedures’, which includes appointments with nurses, physiotherapists and masseurs, speech therapists and eye specialists, will increase from €0.50 to €1. 

The deduction for medical transport costs, will rise from €2 to €4. 

These new costs will not affect children, pregnant women and those who benefit from 100 percent reimbursement of medical costs (eg war veterans and people on very low incomes). 

Later in the year, in June 2024, the ‘participatory‘ fee, which is different from the franchise médicale and is applied to medical appointments including visits to generalists will be increased, from €1 to a minimum of €2 and a maximum of €3. 

Back to school

The winter school holidays are over. Children in Zone A schools head back to classes on March 4th, while those in Zone B return on March 11th and Zone C have already returned.

Olympics tickets

The next tranche of Olympics tickets will be on sale on Monday, March 4th, the same date as the unveiling of the official poster for the Games.

The tickets will go on sale at 10am (Paris-time). They can be bought from anywhere in the world on the official Olympics website (paris2024.org).You will need an account to purchase tickets.

Ramadan

The Muslim period of fasting, prayer, reflection and community begins on March 11th and runs until April 9th when the celebrations of Eid begin. 

Trêve

The annual winter ‘truce’, when tenants cannot be evicted from their rented homes for non-payment of rent, ends as it does every year on March 31st.

Equinox

Spring is sprung on March 20th, when the Spring Equinox arrives, meaning that there will be more hours of daylight than darkness.

Clocks change

We all lose an hour’s sleep as the clocks go forward on March 31st

READ MORE: Whatever happened to the EU plan to ditch the changing of the clocks?

Easter

Also on March 31st, and compensating for the loss of blissful slumber, it’s Easter Sunday, so we’re all allowed chocolate for breakfast, lunch and evening meal.

Easter Monday is a bank holiday, meaning a long weekend is possible from Friday, March 30th to Tuesday, April 1st, although Good Friday is not a holiday in most of France – only the residents of Alsace Lorraine get the day off.

Why is Good Friday not a holiday in (most of) France?

Easter in France generally involves plenty of chocolate, Easter Egg hunts and fun activities for children, some special markets and a weird legend about church bells.

8 ways the French celebrate Easter

The end of winter festivals

The Nice Carnival and the Menton Lemon Festival, both of which bring in thousands of visitors every year, will conclude on Sunday March 3rd. The former will run its closing ceremony from Saturday to Sunday, with musical performances and a parade of traditional boats – more info here.

US Primaries

Super Tuesday – the date when 15 US states hold primary elections and caucuses – will take place on March 5th. US citizens living abroad can participate in primary elections, but they may need to register beforehand. 

READ MORE: How Americans in Europe can vote in the US primary elections

International Women’s Day

Referred to as journée internationale des droits des femmes in French, the day honouring the achievements of women will take place on March 8th. Usually there are feminist marches and other forms of protests across the country.

In 2023, French president Emmanuel Macron announced on International Women’s Day his intention for “the right of women to choose abortion [to] become irreversible.”

READ MORE: France moves step closer to constitutional right to abortion

International Francophonie Day

Each year, the world’s 369 million French speakers celebrate the journée internationale de la francophonie on March 20th. In previous years, French presidents have made speeches or presented plans for international strategies to maintain and push forward the French language.

In 2023, the Museum of the French language opened in northern France. It is set to host the Francophonie Summit, which will be held in France in autumn 2024. 

Impressionism exhibitions

Celebrating the 150th anniversary of art movement that was born in 1874, a series of museums will host impressionism exhibitions starting during the month of March. 

Paris’ Musée d’Orsay, which has the world’s best collection of impressionists, will host the exhibition ‘1874: Inventing Impressionism’ starting on March 26th.

READ MORE: 8 French special exhibitions to mark 150th anniversary of Impressionism

French films with English subtitles

Lost in Frenchlation, the cinema club that screens French films with English subtitles, has six films on offer in March 2024, including two Oscar-nominated dramas. If you live in the Paris area, you can reserve your tickets online.

Train tickets for the summer holidays

France’s national rail service SNCF will open sales for summer tickets starting on March 7th. These will be for trains running between May 23rd and July 5th. On March 13th, you will be able to purchase tickets for the period between July 6th and September 11th. 

For Ouigo budget services, tickets for the period from July 6th to December 2024 will go on sale on March 6th.

. . . And watch out for April 1st

April 1st is the day for ‘poissons d’avril‘ in France – aka pranks and practical jokes. So don’t believe everything that you hear on this day.

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