Christmas travel to free French classes: 6 essential articles for France

From travel over the festive period to claiming free language classes and the correct use of the word voilà - here are 6 articles that will come in handy for those living in France, or who visit regularly.

Santa at Strasbourg Christmas market
Will travel be open this Christmas? Photo: Patrick Herzog/AFP

We know that it’s only November, but we’re also aware that many readers are making travel plans for Christmas.

With lockdowns and travel bans, festive visits to family and friends in other countries were impossible for many last year – but will it be any different this year?

As Covid cases rise around Europe, we’re taking a look at the travel latest and whether any extra restrictions are likely to be introduced over the holidays.

Will travel to and from France to open this Christmas?

Assuming travel will be possible, readers going between France and the UK will be faced with their first post-Brexit Christmas, which has an impact both on the treats and presents that you can pack in your suitcase, and the items you can send by mail.

Travel between France and the UK: What can I pack at Christmas?

But there’s still the possibility that the French government might give you a gift – such as some free French classes.

We’re taking a look at the Mon Compte Formation scheme, which allows those working in France to claim a training budget, which for foreigners can be spent on French language classes.

It’s also surprisingly easy to register ever since the creation of an app, so we take you through the process.

How to get the government to pay for your French classes

It probably won’t be on your course syllabus, but do you know how to properly use voilà?

Perhaps one of the best-known French words of all, its day-to-day use in France is somewhat different from its meaning in the English-speaking world and it can be used in a surprising variety of different situations.

How the French really use voilà

Our columnist John Lichfield is also pondering the French language.

Taking a step back from his usual subject of politics, he is considering the changes that have occurred in the French language in his nearly 25 years in the country and the divides that have arisen around some of the ‘new’ words.

OPINION: There’s a new divide in France – between those who say ‘hop’ and ‘toc’

And speaking of John, if you like his pieces you can get them sent directly to your email – sign up here.

This week also saw the three-year anniversary of the first ‘yellow vest’ protest in France.

We take a look at what happened to the movement that once commanded huge numbers of followers and even at one point seemed like it might topple the government.

Whatever happened to France’s ‘yellow vests’?

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France to roll out ID cards app

Technology is being rolled out to allow people to carry their French ID cards in an app form - and could be rolled out to other cards, including driving licences and cartes de séjour residency cards.

France to roll out ID cards app

Holders of French carte d’identité (ID cards) will soon be able to carry certified digital versions of them on their smartphone or other electronic devices, a decree published in the Journal Officiel has confirmed.

An official app is being developed for holders of the newer credit card-format ID cards that have information stored on a chip. A provisional test version of the app is expected at the end of May.

Users will be able to use the ID card app, when it becomes available, for a range of services “from checking in at the airport to renting a car”, according to Thierry Breton, EU Commissioner for the Internal Market.

All French citizens have an ID card, which can be used for proving identity in a range of circumstances and for travel within the EU and Schengen zone – the new app will be in addition to the plastic card that holders already have.

Under the plans, after downloading the app, card holders will need merely to hold the card close to their phone to transfer the required information. According to officials, the holder then can decide what information is passed on – such as proof of age, or home address – according to the situation.

The government has not given any examples of situations in which the app would need to be used, but has set out the main principles and the ambition of the plan: to allow everyone to identify themselves and connect to certain public and private organisations, in particular those linked to the France Connect portal.

READ ALSO What is France Connect and how could it make your life simpler?

Cards will continue to be issued for the foreseeable future – this is merely an extension of the existing system.

Only French citizens have ID cards, but if successful the app is expected to be rolled out to include other cards, such as driving licences, cartes de séjour residency cards or even visas. A digital wallet is being developed at the European level – Member States have until September to agree what it could contain.

READ ALSO Eight smartphone apps that make life in France a bit easier