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CULTURE

Buskers to return to Paris Metro after more than a year

Foreign languages, clinking glasses, harried waiters... The familiar sounds of Paris are back and soon another note will be added - buskers in the Metro.

Buskers to return to Paris Metro after more than a year
Emji, winner of the Nouvelle Star TV show, performs in the Metro in 2016. Photo: FRANCOIS GUILLOT / AFP.

Musicians will be allowed to perform in Paris Metro stations for the first time in over a year, from Wednesday, June 30th, as France continues to re-open its cultural sector.

While some continued to play, the practice has officially been banned since the beginning of the health crisis in March 2020. Performers will now have the chance to play in front of an audience once again, as long as they follow health guidelines, including wearing a mask.

“The return of artistic activities with the ‘Metro Musicians’ is excellent news for them, but also and above all for our passengers. It’s a breath of fresh air after more than a year of restrictions,” said Stella Sainson, in charge of the programme.

READ ALSO The strange rules of the Paris Metro you should know about

Musical acts in the Paris transportation system are tightly regulated by the ‘Metro Musicians’ label created in 1997, run by the RATP transport authority. Before the health crisis, 300 artists would be selected twice a year, following auditions. Only those who are chosen are legally allowed to perform in Metro and RER stations.

They are not allowed to play on platforms on on trains, which tend to be the preserve of unlicensed performers.

The RATP said it had kept in touch with its performers throughout the pandemic.

“During this period, we haven’t held back in our efforts to accompany and support them in every way, particularly thanks to social media. There, we have shared extracts of their music and organised live videos,” Sainson said.

A number of well-known musicians started off performing in the Paris metro, including the American singer Ben Harper, and the Nigerian singer-songwriter Keziah Jones.

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MONEY

Everything you need to know about France’s 2022 summer sales

In France, you can only shop the best deals twice a year - during the soldes. Here is everything you need to know about this year's summer sales.

Everything you need to know about France's 2022 summer sales

They happen twice a year – Each year, France has two soldes periods: one in the winter, usually starting January, and another in the summer, usually starting in June.

This summer, the soldes will start on Wednesday, June 22nd in most parts of France and run for four weeks, so even though you might be tempted to go on the first day, keep in mind they’ll be going on for a while.

They are progressive, so items will be continuously marked down as the soldes wear on. If you wait, you are risking that your favourite t-shirt might sell out quickly, but if you’re lucky it might end up marked down even further.

During 2020 and 2021 the government altered sales dates and time periods to help shops cope with closures and lockdowns, but now we’re back to the usual timetable.

This is the only time stores can have “sales” – Technically, the soldes are the only time that stores are allowed to have sales, but the definition of ‘sale’ is important.

Basically, the French government qualifies a ‘solde‘ as the store selling an item for less than they purchased it for.

During the rest of the year discounting is allowed in certain circumstances, so you might see promotions or vente privée (private sales, usually short-term events aimed at regular customers or loyalty-card holders) throughout the year.

In these situations the stores might be selling items for less than their original price, but they are not permitted to sell the item for less than they bought it for. 

Shops are also permitted to have closing-down sales if they are shutting down, or closing temporarily for refurbishment.

They are strictly regulated by the French government – Everything from how long the soldes go for to the consumer protection rules that apply to the very definition of ‘solde’ is regulated by the French government, and the main purpose of this is to protect small independent businesses which might not be able to offer the same level of discounts as the big chains and multi-national companies.

Whether you shop in person or online, the same rules apply.

As a consumer, you still have the same rights as non-sales times regarding broken or malfunctioning items – meaning you ought to be entitled to a refund if the item has not been expressly indicated as faulty. The French term is vice cachĂ©, referring to discovering a defect after purchase.

On top of that, stores must be clear about which items are reduced and which are not – and must display the original price on the label as well as the sale price and percentage discount. 

READ MORE: Your consumer rights for French sales

They started in the 19th century – France’s soldes started in the 19th century, alongside the growth of department stores who had the need to regularly renew their stock – and get rid of leftover items.

Simon Mannoury, who founded the first Parisian department store “Petit Saint-Thomas” in 1830, came up with the idea.

Funnily enough, this department store actually is the ancestor for the famous department store Le Bon MarchĂ©. His goal was to sell off the previous season’s unsold stock in order to replace it with new products.

In order to do this, Mannoury offered heavy discounts to sell as much merchandise as possible in a limited time.

The soldes start at different times depending on where you live – The sales start at the same time across most of mainland France, but there are exceptions for overseas France and certain dĂ©partements, usually those along the border.

France’s finance ministry allows for the sales to start at different times based on local economies and tourist seasons. 

For the summer 2022 sales only two parts of metropolitan France have different dates; Alpes-Maritimes sales run from July 6th to August 2nd, while on the island of Corsica they run from July 13th to August 9th.

In France’s overseas territories the sales are held later in the year.

You might qualify for a tax rebate – If you are resident outside the EU, you might be eligible for a tax rebate on your sales purchases.

If you spend at least €100 in one store, then you qualify. You should hold onto your receipt and tell the cashier you plan to use a tax rebate so they can give you the necessary documentation (a duty-free slip).

Then when you are leaving you can find the kiosk at the station or airport dedicated to tax rebates (détaxe) and file prior to leaving France. For more information read HERE. 

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