The winter sales start in France this week, new hunting regulations look set to become law, and homeowners in southwest France will face an extra additional to their tax bill. Here are the French news stories you need to know about this week.
1. It’s Sales time!
If you’re looking to bag a post-Christmas bargain, now’s the time. Tomorrow (Wednesday, January 11th) marks the start of France’s annual soldes d’hiver (winter sales), which will run through to Tuesday, February 7th.
In France, the law dictates that shops and businesses are only allowed to run sales during two six-week periods – the summer sales and the winter sales (technically, they can run shorter sales and discounts at other times, but strict rules apply). The dates are set nationally, so if you are looking to purchase clothes, accessories, electrical goods, household items, and more at discounts of up to 70% – now’s the time!
2. France tightens rules around hunting
La Chasse (hunting) has always been a controversial topic in France, and as more reports of hunting-related accidents and fatalities hit the headlines each year, there has been growing support for a Sunday hunting ban. In response to the complaints, the French government yesterday announced its 14-measure plan to tighten hunting regulations with an aim to address public safety concerns.
The proposed legislation does not include the proposed Sunday hunting ban; however, it does include proposals such as app with GPS locations of organised hunts and efforts to increase public awareness of hunts taking place; stricter safety measures and training protocols for hunters, including breathalyser tests for hunters; and more severe penalties for accidents, especially in instances where safety rules have been flouted.
3. Additional taxes for southwest France residents
While French homeowners will no longer pay the contribution à l’audiovisuel public (TV licence) or the taxe d’habitation on primary residences, homeowners and businesses in some southwest departments will now be subject to a new tax. The taxe spéciale d’équipement (special equipment tax) is being introduced to fund a new high-speed rail line between Bordeaux-Toulouse – the Grand Projet du Sud-Ouest or GPSO.
The tax will be applied to all homeowners (both primary residences and second homes), renters of furnished properties, and some businesses – essentially anyone who already pays taxe foncière on a property or land, taxe habitation, or taxe foncière des entreprises – living in a commune within 1-hour of the proposed railway route. Some 2,340 communes are affected in the Occitanie and Nouvelle-Aquitaine departments, and you can see a full map here.
The tax will be applied for the next 40 years, providing a €29.5 million annual budget for the railway project. But don’t worry – it’s not expected to be a big bill, with estimates placing the tax at around €4-8 per household or business.
4. Macron’s pension reforms revealed
Today (Tuesday, January 10th) is the day that Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne is set to present Macron’s long-awaited and much-contested plan for pension reforms in France. The bill is being presented to parliament today and is expected to lay out changes such as increasing the legal retirement age (currently 62 years old) and streamlining the country’s various pension regimes into one single state pension regime.
With the official press conference set for 5.30 pm tonight, we won’t have all the details in time for this week’s News Digest, so look out for a full breakdown of the proposed changes in next week’s roundup. In the meantime, read our guide to French pensions to learn how the system currently works.
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