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BREXIT

New online portal for French travel pass for under-18s

The French interior ministry has announced the creation of an online system to allow foreigners in France aged under 18 to get a pass for travel.

New online portal for French travel pass for under-18s
Photo: Ina Fassbender/AFP

All non-EU citizens living in France (which now includes Brits as well as other non-EU nations like Australia, Canada and the USA) need either a visa or a residency permit.

The exception to this is under 18s. Children under the age of 18 do not need a residency permit and in most cases are not able to apply for one.

However, proof of residency can be useful when travelling (for example at certain points during the pandemic non-residents were not allowed into France), especially for older children who are travelling without their families.

The French government therefore allows under 18s to apply for a document known as a Document de circulation pour étrangers mineurs (DCEM) – circulation document for non-EU minors.

The document is not required for travel, it is simply intended to make it easier for minor to prove their residency status if needed. Around 60,000 are issued or renewed every year, according to the Interior Ministry. 

The pass itself is not new, but now instead of going to the préfecture, families can apply for the document online – part of the French government’s gradual move of all residency paperwork online.

Parents or legal guardians make the application on behalf of the child, and you can now do so HERE.

You fill in the online form and upload supporting documents.

Once the application is processed, you will then only need to go to the préfecture to pick up the document.

The document is valid for five years and can be renewed.

Once children reach the age of 18 they need to apply for their own residency document.

In the case of UK nationals who were living in France before December 31st 2020, they continue to benefit from the Withdrawal Agreement, but can no longer use the post-Brexit online portal to apply, instead they must make their application at their local préfecture – more details here

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TOURISM

What to know when visiting France’s lavender fields this summer

Known affectionately as 'blue gold,' France’s lavender fields are a popular tourist attraction every year. Here is what you need to know about visiting them:

What to know when visiting France's lavender fields this summer

Lavender is the “soul of Provence,” the French region where the fields can be found. Like wine, lavender was brought to France around 2,000 years ago by the Romans. The flower is the emblem of ‘Haute Provence’ regional identity, though the fields stretch from just outside of Nice almost all the way up to Valence, and they are not fully exclusive to France.

Even the washerwomen, those whose job it was to clean clothes and linen, were referred to as les lavandières in France. 

The flowers, which can be found mainly in two species in Provence, have several uses – as oils for cooking and bathing, as a perfume for soaps, and even as an antiseptic for healing wounds and scars.

The lavender essential oil that comes from Provence is even an AOP (L’Appellation d’origine protégée) in France. 

When is the best time to see the fields?

Typically, the lavender flowers from around mid-June to early-to-mid August. However, depending on the weather, especially if there is a drought or hotter temperatures, the lavender might flower sooner than normal, which is likely the case for this year.

This is unfortunately also a side effect of climate change, which might be pushing up the lavender flowering season.

Where should I go?

The Valensole plateau is perhaps the most famous place to go for lavender fields. Speckled with several small Provencal towns, the area is beautiful, with a mountainous backdrop in the distance. If you go here, you might also be able to see the sunflower fields too.

Sault is perhaps a bit less known, partially because due to its altitude, the lavender typically flowers a bit later.

It is still a great place to go see the fields, and every year the town hosts a Lavender Festival in August. Walking (or cycling) between the villages (Aurel, Saint-Trinit and Saint-Christol) is very manageable.

This is not too far from the Sénanque Abbey, a medieval 12th century abbey which is surrounded by lavender fields. You might notice some small stone houses called bories in the fields, which were historically used for field workers.

Luberon Valley is another location that comes highly recommended. In the area, there is a regional national park, home to rosé wines, castles (chateaux) and charming villages, like Gordes, a stunning hilltop village.

Here you can also find the Musée de la Lavande, if you are looking to learn more about harvesting, producing and distilling lavender, its industry, and some interesting regional history.

How to get there?

You can take a TGV train to Aix-en-Provence or Avignon, or rent a car. With a car, you can also enjoy the several scenic routes that allow you to see the fields from the roads.

What else is there to do while in the region?

The area is also known for its rosé wine, so you could take the opportunity to go visit some vineyards or spend some time wine-tasting. 

In the summer months, the south of France can get quite warm. If you are looking to go swimming or enjoy the water, the Gorges du Verdon are not too far away. Though a bit of a tourist hotspot, the canyon is a beautiful and a wonderful place for paddling along in a canoe.

If you’re a fan of hiking, you can always go for a (light) hike along the Ochre Trail near Roussillon. Here, there are two marked paths that will take you through sunset-colored red and yellow cliffs in an old quarry.

Words of Wisdom

Unless you have been given express permission, do not pick the lavender, as this is the farmer’s livelihood. You can always buy a bouquet from nearby souvenir shops for your photo shoots! 

Also, stick to the paths that exist to avoid trampling any crops, and of course do not litter in the fields. 

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