News Digest: Is the South of France Banning Swimming Pools?

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News Digest: Is the South of France Banning Swimming Pools?

If you’re looking to purchase property in the south of France, there’s a worrying trend to take note of, plus doctor’s fees are on the rise, and more strikes are coming our way in June. Here are the French news stories you need to know about this week.

1. France celebrates the coronation of King Charles III

Yesterday was a public holiday or jour férié in France and the second of May’s four (yes, four!) long weekends – this time in honour of VE Day. But while France was marking the end of WWII in Europe with remembrance parades and ceremonies, its UK neighbours were enjoying their own bank holiday in celebration of the coronation of King Charles III.

The coronation ceremony took place on Saturday (May 6th), and it was a surprise hit among the French, too. The televised ceremony reportedly snagged a whopping 70% of viewers, with nearly nine million people tuning in to watch from France.

King Charles III’s first state visit overseas to France was cancelled back in March due to the ongoing strike action against President Macron’s pension reforms, but it seems that his no-show has done little to wane the public’s fascination with the royal family.

2. Swimming pool bans in the South of France

We announced last week that Meteo France had predicted one of France’s hottest summers to date, and 19 French departments have already been placed on drought alert this spring. Depending on the alert level, this means various water restrictions affecting residents that want to use hosepipes, wash cars, and fill up swimming pools. This is nothing new for many French residents, as many departments have drought alerts in place during summer – however, there is increasing concern that they are becoming longer and increasingly more restrictive.

On Saturday, France’s Environment Minister, Christophe Béchu, announced plans in a radio interview on RTL to take the restrictions one step further. Bechu stated that he’d requested the Pyrénées-Orientales préfecture issue a complete ban on above-ground pools, insisting that the drought situation in the area is severe and is not going to improve. The ban isn’t just an idea, either – it is set to come into action from tomorrow (May 10), but it isn’t yet clear whether it will only affect sales of the pools or will also be extended to their usage.

Under level 2 drought restrictions, residents are not allowed to fill up small above-ground pools, while level 1 restrictions include a ban on filling all in-ground or large above-ground pools. Béchu said that the ban on sales was to remove the temptation for buyers to fill them even with the restrictions in place. He stressed that this was not a decision taken lightly but “is the reality of nature and the situation we are in”.

3. June travel strikes

Strikes have been sweeping France over the past few months, but while Macron’s controversial pension reforms have now been passed into law, some French unions are still refusing to give up the fight. The strikes seem to be on hiatus throughout May (perhaps, so that we can all enjoy the many bank holiday weekends?), but a further day of ‘mass mobilisation’ has been announced for June 6th. There is a high possibility of train, public transport, and airline strikes on this day, as well as marches and demonstrations held in towns and cities throughout France, but it is not thought to cause anywhere near the same level of disruption caused by previous strikes.

4. Doctors’ fees set to rise in 2023

Visiting the doctors in France will be more expensive from the end of 2023, with new prices for consultations being announced by the French Ministry of Health last week. In France, patients pay out of their own pocket to see a GP doctor or specialist, with the majority (70%) of the fees being reimbursed automatically upon presentation of their Carte Vitale and the remainder often covered by their mutuelle health insurance.

Prices for visiting a GP or ‘category 1’ doctor will go up from €25 per visit to €26.50, while specialist fees will increase from €30 to €31.50 and more complicated consultations from €46 to €47.50.

The precise date of the changes is not yet known, but it won’t be before October 2023.

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FrenchEntrée's Digital Editor, Zoë is also a freelance journalist who has written for the Telegraph, HuffPost, and CNN, and a guidebook updater for the Rough Guide to France and Rough Guide to Dordogne & Lot. She lives in the French countryside just outside of Nantes.

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  •  Brian OConnor
    2023-05-09 07:19:33
    Brian OConnor
    "a further day of ‘mass mobilisation’ has been announced for June 6th" - how ironic that the French will strike on the very day that the Allies began their invasion to free Europe from Nazi tyranny.

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