Halloween, La Toussaint, and Storm Ciaran are all on the agenda this week, plus we’ve got some exciting free events to add to your diary and the latest on the proposal of a new visa for second-home owners in France. Here are the French news stories you need to know about this week.
1. France on storm alert
If, like me, you live along France’s west coast, it’s time to batten down the hatches (or at least bring in the garden furniture!) and prepare for what forecasters are predicting to be a week of “intense” rain and wind. Storm Ciaran is set to hit the English Channel and Atlantic coasts of northern France, with 18 departments placed on yellow alert. Winds could reach up to 140km/h, and up to 150mm of rain could fall between tonight (Tuesday) and Sunday.
For French residents, it’s recommended to keep an eye on the local weather forecast and ensure that your property is protected as best as possible. The high winds could also affect cross-Channel ferries between France and the UK, so if you’re travelling this week, keep a lookout for the latest news and guidance from your ferry operator.
2. November changes
Tomorrow, Wednesday, November 1st, is a jour férié in France, in honour of the Catholic All Saints festival or La Toussaint, which you can read all about here. November 1st also marks the start of France’s annual “winter truce” or trêve hivernale, the period during which landlords and utility companies are prohibited from evicting or disconnecting utilities for tenants or homeowners who fail to pay their bills. The trêve hivernale runs from Nov 1st until March 31st 2024.
The same dates apply to France’s annual winter tyres law, which requires that winter tyres or snow chains be fitted on all vehicles driving in the country’s mountain regions (you can read more about that here). Other changes that come into play from November 1st, include a rise in doctors’ and specialists’ fees (from €25 and €30 to €26.50 and €31.50, respectively), and a new law known as the ARA or Audience de Règlement Amiable, which introduces amicable settlement hearings for civil disputes – read more about that here.
3. Abortion rights to be written into the French constitution
You might remember earlier this year, in the wake of the controversial Roe vs. Wade ruling in the United States, that President Emmanuel Macron was among several world leaders who stepped up to condemn the ruling and stand in support of protecting women’s right to abortion.
Now, Macron is carrying forward his promise to add abortion rights to the French constitution, announcing online this Sunday (29th October) that a draft of the amendment would be submitted to France’s State Council this week. If accepted, the right to abortion will be enshrined into the constitution by the end of the year, meaning that, as Macron states below: “in 2024, the right of women to choose abortion will become irreversible”.
Fondé sur le travail des parlementaires et des associations, le projet de loi constitutionnelle sera envoyé au Conseil d'État cette semaine et présenté en Conseil des ministres d’ici la fin de l'année.
En 2024, la liberté des femmes de recourir à l'IVG sera irréversible. https://t.co/4uSoIJu310
— Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) October 29, 2023
4. A new visa for second-home owners?
You may have heard mumblings in recent weeks of a potential second-home visa being introduced for French property owners, but while the suggestion has been made, it’s a long way from being approved. Currently, second-home owners from non-EU countries (which, of course, now includes the UK) must abide by the 90/180-day rule, complicating things for those who wish to stay longer or make multiple trips to enjoy their second home.
Understandably, for Brits who bought their second homes back when the UK was in the EU and could stay in France for up to 180 days with no need for a visa or other requirements, this has been one of the most disappointing consequences of Brexit. Many have called for France to offer another visa solution for property owners, and now right-wing Senator Corinne Imbert from Les Républicains has submitted an amendment to France’s Immigration Law asking for just that.
The amendment asks for the creation of a new five-year visa aimed at foreign nationals who own second homes in France and is likely to be debated as part of the new immigration bill that will be debated in the Senate from next week. However, it’s important to note that this amendment is only one minor addition to the immigration bill, and it’s not yet known whether it will garner support among other senators.
5. Dates for the diary
If you’re looking to purchase a French property or move to France, then you’ll want to add these two dates to your diary. First up, the French Property Exhibition is back! Hosted by France Media Group and FrenchEntrée, this hugely popular event gives you the opportunity to come and meet me and the FrenchEntrée team in person, along with many of our partners and other industry experts, from estate agents to currency exchange specialists to legal, tax, mortgage, and visa advisors. It will all be under one roof in the Champagne suite at Novotel London West on 27th and 28th January 2024. To find out more and sign up for your free tickets, click here.
Another unmissable event for anyone looking to move to France now or in the future is our latest FrenchEntrée webinar, in which we’ll be answering all of your questions about visas, residency, and health insurance. I’ll be joined by Richard Hammond, founder of French Connections HCB, and Fabien Pelissier, founder of Fab French Insurance on Thursday 16th November at 2pm (London time) or 3pm (French time). Sign up for the free webinar here or click the button below, and you can also send in your questions to me in advance at [email protected] .
P.S. Happy Halloween!
While Halloween isn’t celebrated quite as enthusiastically over here as it is in the United States, the UK, and other anglophone countries, it is fast gaining popularity in France. With a bank holiday on the cards for tomorrow, there are likely to be plenty of Halloween events and festivities held around the country tonight, so dig out your spookiest costume! 👻 🎃
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