News Digest: Wildfires Rage Across France Plus the New French Language Test for Residency



News Digest: Wildfires Rage Across France Plus the New French Language Test for Residency

Temperatures are still swelteringly high across the country as southwest France battles to get wildfires under control; plus, we’ve got the latest on the French language tests that you might need to pass if you are hoping to become resident in France. Here are the French news stories you need to know about this week.

1. Wildfires Sweep South-West France

France is currently in the middle of a heatwave or canicule (which we talked about in last week’s News Digest), and this week has seen record-breaking temperatures in Nantes (42°C), Biscarosse (42.6°C), and along the Channel coast in the north (39.5°C). Temperatures are set to fall from today, with thunderstorms possible throughout the country, but it’s not cooling off too much, and you can still expect highs of 30-35°C over the coming week.

The hardest hit region has been the Gironde in southwest France, where firefighters have been battling to gain control of three raging wildfires. The fires include two week-old fires at La Teste-de-Buch and Landiras, along with a third fire that broke out at Vensac last night. The wildfires have swept through Gironde’s natural forests, burning some 19,000 hectares of woodland to date, destroying several campsites close to the Dune du Pilat, Europe’s tallest sand dune, and leading an estimated 22,000 people to be evacuated.

Nearby Bordeaux and much of the west coast have experienced the secondary effects of the wildfires, as smog and ash are blown up-country, while another fire broke out last night in Finistère, Brittany, further north.

2. Stade de France Apology

Back in May, we reported on the chaos that took place at the 2022 UEFA Champions League finals on May 28th at the Stade de France in Paris. Thousands of Liverpool fans were left waiting for hours to enter the stadium, with police even resulting to using tear gas on supporters.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Liverpool chiefs both criticized France’s handling of the event, calling out the French government for blaming the events on fraudulent ticket sales rather than shouldering the blame. Their concerns were vindicated last week as the official enquiry carried out by the French Senate concluded that the problems were indeed caused by a series of “dysfunctions” at “every level” of the organization. Government official Laurent Lafon confirmed that the number of Liverpool supporters outside the stadium was not the reason for the chaos that unfolded.

3. Language Tests for French Residents

France’s Interior minister, Gérald Darmanin, announced last week that the government plans to add a French language requirement to applications for multi-year residence permits or ‘carte de séjours’. “At the request of the Prime Minister, we will double the credits for integration, and we will condition in particular the multi-year residence permit for a foreigner who spends several years on the national territory (to master) the French language, either for naturalization either for a regularization examination, ” he told the Assemblée Nationale.

While this has not yet been debated in parliament or passed into law, it is a bill that will likely attract support across all parties, and could become law from as soon as next year. If it does, it won’t affect foreigners applying for a long-stay visa for France, but it will affect anyone applying for a Carte de Séjour, the next step on the road to permanent residency in France. Details of the language tests haven’t been given, but it’s likely that it will be the same as the level already required for French citizenship. That would mean that candidates would need to sit a written and oral exam, demonstrating a B1 level of French.

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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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  •  Stanley Scholes
    2022-07-20 09:39:39
    Stanley Scholes
    Why is France being so harsh on us English, Welsh, Scottish, and Irish, in saying that we have to be able to speak French to a verry good standerd, so that we can live in France, why all of a sudden are you doing this, when we were in the European union, there was no talk of this IS THIS BECAUSE WE ARNT IN EUROPE ANYMORE don't forget how many BRITISH people live in France I wait for your reply


    •  Peter
      2022-08-08 05:34:46
      Hi Stanley. I think it's up to the French people and their govenment to decided what standards they want to live in France. Remember this is not to do with the UK it's for all third country nationals and the UK is just one of them after leaving the EU, this language test is not for other countries in the EU as they have a right to live and work in France as part of the EU. Also this is for new arrivals those with a Carte de Sejour will be unaffected.


    • Zoë Smith
      2022-07-21 12:42:07
      Zoë Smith
      Hi Stanley,

      While we can't comment on the actions of the French government, it should be noted that if this legislation is passed, it will affect ALL immigrants looking to move to France and apply for a Carte de Séjour, not just those from the UK. Best regards, Zoe


  •  Geoff
    2022-07-19 08:26:32
    To complete your story on "Language tests for French residents", it's worth pointing out that for those seeking French citizenship (dual nationality) that the language test is waived for applicants aged 60 and over. That said, after I'd jumped through all the hoops, I had a final interview (in French) at the sous Préfecture at Bordeaux. It was all very friendly and for anyone who's lived in Francd for a length of time it was not demanding. The lady who interviewed me was far from being a 'jobsworth' and it was an enjoyable and good-humoured process.


  • Chris Nation
    2022-07-19 06:23:59
    Chris Nation
    Bonjour Zoë Even here in Calvados it's been in the mid 30C's. Tomorrow and the following days are given as low 20C's. Relief! A friend in a Spanish town where 40C is frequent and persistent can't believe it. A meteo rove around the major cities south of the Loire has it otherwise - still in the 30C's++ in the coming week. The change for the hotter is creeping northwards. Discussion on the Survive France forum confirms that 'old hands' south of the Loire are seeing this trend as unmistakable. I switched my property search areas from south of the Loire to Normandy for this very reason. So far, my decision has been vindicated. I don't have the resources for installing a/c or a swimming pool so a climate less susceptible to prolonged high temperatures was the answer. I'd be interested to know if this summer's hot spell is affecting the decisions of people looking to buy in FR. It's certainly a consideration worth taking seriously, now.


  • Chris Nation
    2022-07-19 06:05:00
    Chris Nation
    Bonjour Zoë I don't think it was made clear in the article on the language test that this would apply to applicants who arrived/arrive in FR post 31/12/2021 i.e. not to those that already have a W.A. CdS.