Travel, cake and taxes: 6 essential articles for life in France

From a glimmer of hope for UK travellers to the France's high-speed internet plans, via one final Christmas treat, here's our pick of six recent articles that will help you to better understand life in France.

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French internet coverage and mobile roaming charges in the EU were among our recent headlines. Photo: Denis Charlet / AFP

After tightening travel restrictions to and from the UK the weekend before Christmas in an ultimately failed attempt to stop the Omicron variant sweeping across France, the French government this week decided to relax some of its travel measures.

The first raft of changes are relatively small, and focus on a slight enlargement of France’s “essential travel” category. So, for now some questions remain – and we’ve done our best to answer as many as we can.

When will France fully lift travel restrictions on the UK?

Throughout the pandemic, with all its travel restrictions, curfews, work from home rules and lockdown (remember Spring 2020?), online communication exploded. Meetings took place via Zoom, while Slack took the online intra-business chat world by storm. Streaming video on demand services like Netflix, Amazon Prime and Disney Plus picked up subscribers by the bucketload. 

Now, France claims to have the widest high-speed internet coverage of any country in Europe. Two-thirds of French households currently have access to high-speed internet. The government wants to ensure that 80 percent of French households will have access by the end of 2022 and that the entire country is covered by 2025. 

So we asked the obvious question: Is France’s plan for nationwide high-speed internet by 2025 on track? If you live in a bit of France that currently does not benefit from high-speed internet access, you may be surprised.

And we found that France’s electronic communications regulator, ARCEP, knows when the remaining 33 percent of the country will join the high-speed internet revolution.

MAP: When will my part of rural France get high-speed internet?

Meanwhile, as UK mobile phone network operators get ready to reintroduce roaming charges, while most EU operators seem set to keep the ‘free to roam’ status quo we outline what new charges are in store for travellers from the UK to France and beyond.

How roaming charges will hit travellers between the UK and EU in 2022

Christmas may be over for another year, as the French return to work – but they don’t  like to let the festive period go without one final hurrah. Cue Epiphany, officially the Christian holiday commemorating the Magi’s visit to the baby Jesus. 

In France, that’s an excuse to put off the diet just a while longer and enjoy one last blowout on a delicious galette des rois. Or two. Or three. Sadly, there’s a higher price this year than your expanding waistline…

Why the French Galette des Rois is getting more expensive

Speaking of paying the piper, here are a few important financial dates for your diaries in 2022.

The French tax calendar for 2022 – which taxes are due when?

Finally, from Brits needing residency cards to free contraception, here are some of the changes coming to France this year you should know about. 

What changes in France in 2022?

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How to adopt a pet from a French animal shelter

Around 300,000 pets are abandoned every year in France, many of them during the summer months. So if you're looking for a pet there are many lovely cats and dogs in shelters looking for a good home - here's how to go about it.

How to adopt a pet from a French animal shelter

Where to look

French animal welfare charity the Société Protectrice des Animaux (SPA) is an excellent place to start – it currently lists nearly 4,500 animals available for adoption. 

But there are lots of other smaller, local organisations – it may be worthwhile dropping in to see a local vet as they will generally know of local groups seeking homes for abandoned pets.

There will be paperwork

First-time buyers of cats or dogs have to sign a ‘certificate of commitment and understanding’ before they will be allowed to buy an animal, and the same applies to those looking to adopt. 

After the signed document is delivered to the authorities, future owners have seven days to change their mind – the idea is to prevent people from ‘impulsively’ buying or adopting pets only to abandon them later. 

The SPA, certainly, demands that would-be adopters are of legal age and are willing to take part in a “responsible adoption process”.

These things take time – as you should expect for a commitment that can last more than a decade. As the SPA website says, it seeks to ensure “that each decision is carefully considered and that the adopted animal matches its new family and way of life”.

The process may include home visits, interviews and discussions to help adopters find the animal to which they are best suited – older people may not cope well with an energetic puppy, for example.

READ ALSO What you need to know about owning a dog in France

Shelter animals

Some welfare organisations ensure their animals spend some time with ‘foster families’ until they are adopted. This means that the organisation has a pretty good idea how that animal is likely to behave when it gets to its new adopted home.

It is more difficult to judge an animal’s character if it has been kept in a pen in a shelter.

It will cost money

A financial contribution will most likely be requested by the organisation from which you are adopting. The sum will depend on the age and type of animal being adopted. 

The SPA, for example, asks for a donation to cover vets’ fees of between €250 and €300 for a dog, depending on its age, and €150 for a cat or a kitten.

Another well-known animal welfare organisation in France, Les Amis des Animaux, has a slightly different scale of fees covering the cost of chipping, vaccinations – including rabies/passport in mature animals, sterilisation, worming, et cetera. 

READ ALSO What you need to know about microchipping your pet in France

What else you need to know

Under French law, pet dogs – and cats and ferrets – over a certain age must be identified and registered on a national database. 

The animal must be identifiable by a tattoo or microchip – the latter is the most common method these days – that is registered on the Identification des carnivores domestiques (I-CAD) database

The procedure to insert the microchip, or ink the tattoo, must be carried out by an approved professional. The procedure should be done by a vet and costs between €40 and €70, the shelter will tell you whether your new pet already has a microchip or not.

You might not believe it if you have walked along certain streets in Paris, but you can be fined if you fail to pick up after your pet. 

The standard fine is €68, but the mayors of some towns have imposed stricter rules in the street, in parks, gardens and other public spaces. 

The French government’s Service Public website lists other rules regarding the health and wellbeing of pets. Read it here.