This week in France: What you need to know

From Christmas rules to a crunch EU deadline and an extra Christmas festival, here's what is coming up in France this week.

A Saint Nicolas parade in Nancy, France
Photo: Jean-Christophe Verhaegen/AFP

Remember that this week new travel rules are in force – as of Saturday, December 4th – requiring negative Covid tests for all non-EU arrivals, vaccinated or not. Find the full breakdown of the rules here


Covid crisis meeting

The French government is holding a meeting – two days ahead of the regular Wednesday Defence Council meetings – to decide whether new restrictions are needed in France in the face of the fifth wave of Covid and the newly-discovered Omicron variant.

The meeting of the government’s “health council”, on Monday, December 6th, will “see if there is a need to take additional measures”, French PM Jean Castex said.

READ ALSO: French PM announces crisis meeting to decide France’s Covid Christmas rules

St Nicolas Day

Monday is also Saint Nicolas Day, which if you’re in north-east France involves celebrations, parades, festivals, small gifts and special gingerbread.

READ ALSO The extra December festival that some of France celebrates


French President Emmanuel Macron will hold a rare press conference (the second in 4 years) mainly on the subject of Europe to coincide with France taking over the presidency of the European Council in January.

“He will present his main priorities for Europe during France’s presidency,” a source from the Elysée told Le Parisien.


Truckers protests

Truckers in France are going on strike. It is unclear at this point whether they will deliberately block roads, which would lead to traffic jams across the country. We will be monitoring for disruption and will keep you updated. 

Fishing deadline

The EU has given the UK until December 10th to resolve issues over outstanding post-Brexit fishing licences, the great majority of which are for French boats.

If an agreement is not reached by then, the EU will look at beginning legal proceedings, but the passing of the deadline could also see extra actions from the French government, or more blockades of Channel ports and roads from the increasing irate French fishermen’s groups.


Independence referendum

France could become a little smaller. 

The islands of New Caledonia in the Pacific Ocean are voting in an independence referendum. It is the third such referendum since 2018. Pro-independence groups have called for the vote to be delayed and warned that they would not participate due to the pandemic. Paris insists that the result of Sunday’s vote in the French overseas territory will be legally binding. 

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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