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Recap: 12 changes in France - eye tests, Covid rules, heat pumps, fuel

We highlight recent changes that may affect your life in France

Getting a glasses prescription is easier, Covid isolation rules change, more money for heat pumps and fuel aid is extended Pic: Dmytro Zinkevych / Kuchina / Tomas K / Jarun Ontakrai / Shutterstock

1. Train ticket changes

Rail operator SNCF has tightened its rules around refunds after relaxing them during the pandemic.

Tickets can now be cancelled or exchanged at no additional cost up to six days before departure, compared to three days previously.

Beyond that deadline, the cost of a refund or exchange has risen from €15 to €19 for TGV Inoui trains, and from €12 to €15 for Intercité trains requiring a reservation.

There has been no change to Ouigo tickets, which are non-refundable, but can be exchanged for a €10 fee plus any price difference.

It is no longer mandatory to stamp paper tickets using a machine. Those using a paper ticket should see the train manager to have it validated.

Read more: Holiday traffic, ferry plans, new flights: 9 French travel updates

2. French citizenship

Applications for French nationality must now be completed online at the new NATALI service. 

This can be used for making an application, checking its status, and informing users of the outcome or any extra documents that may be required.

Only the interview, as well as the naturalisation ceremony, will be conducted in person. 

The changes took effect on February 6. If you submitted an application before this date, and received a dossier number, you are advised not to submit another application.

Read more: What it is like to take TCF French test when applying for nationality

Read more: Is French nationality my right if I am married to a French person?

3. Taxi prices

The prices taxi drivers can charge, which are heavily regulated, have risen. 

The maximum price per kilometre is now €1.21 (up from €1.12). 

The price of the pick-up cannot be more than €4.18, and the hourly price (for waiting times and slow-moving traffic) is limited to €38.96, a slight rise on 2022. 

The minimum trip fee remains €7.30.

A fixed fee applies to airport pick-ups. A trip from Charles-de-Gaulle to Paris’s right bank is €55, or €62 to the left bank (€41 and €35 from Paris-Orly).

4. Easier eye tests

People aged 16 to 42 are now able to go to an orthoptist for a glasses or contact lens prescription, instead of having to take an appointment with an ophthalmologist first.

You can consult an orthoptist for a first prescription. 

If you already wear glasses, you can only do so if your last eye test with an ophthalmologist was within the last five years (or three years for contact lenses).

Read more: What is changing in relation to glasses prescriptions in France

5. Pension alerts

People who have a top-up pension from the private sector in France can now be informed in real time of when payments arrive in their accounts.

You can sign up for email or text alerts by logging into your account at the Agirc-Arrco website, and clicking on your name, then Mes abonnements.

6. Heat pump grant

The grant for replacing a coal, oil or gas boiler with a geothermal heat pump will rise to €5,000 for all in March.

The Coup de pouce Chauffage scheme was previously €2,500, or €4,000 for low-income households. This can be combined with other grants such as MaPrimeRénov’.

Read more: France ups aid for geothermal heat pumps to minimum of €5,000 for all

7. Food price rises

Food prices are expected to rise in March as annual negotiations between suppliers and distributors come to a close in the context of high inflation.

In response, the government is due to launch an ‘anti-inflation basket’, including around 50 daily essentials from fruit and vegetables to meat and cleaning products, for which prices will be stable. 

It will be up to supermarket chains to choose whether to participate.

8. Covid vaccine

Children aged between six months and four years who are at risk of developing serious forms of Covid-19, or who live with an immunocompromised person, can now be vaccinated.

Those considered at risk are children with at least one of the medical issues identified for adults and those with specific conditions, such as obesity or Down syndrome.

9. Isolation rules

People who test positive for Covid-19 no longer have to isolate at home and those in contact with them no longer have to take a test after two days.

Self-isolation in case of a positive test, however, is still highly recommended.

In addition, the exception allowing workers to receive sick pay the first three days they are off work after testing positive has been abolished.

10. Unemployment

Reform to unemployment benefits (assurance chômage) has seen a 25% reduction in the duration of compensation for jobseekers who open a claim.

An unemployed person who would have been entitled to 12 months of compensation under the system will now be entitled to only nine months. 

People aged 55 and over will be reduced from a maximum of 36 months to 27.

A minimum of six months will be maintained.

11. Fuel aid applications

The deadline for drivers to apply for the fuel allowance of €100 has been extended by an extra month to the end of March due to only five million of the 10 million eligible drivers applying.

The one-off payment is aimed at individuals who use their car for work and had a taxable income per household ‘part’ of €14,700 or less in 2021. 

Check your eligibility at

Read more: Applications for France’s €100 fuel aid extended due to slow take up

12. Travel compensation

Travellers in Ile-de-France who had a Navigo subscription between September and December 2022 can request half a month’s refund, or €37.60, because of late trains and disrupted services last year.

Those using the RER B or D can get a refund of up to one month.

An online platform will open on March 14, where refunds can be requested until April 14. 

Beware of scams inviting you to pre-register.

Dates for your diary

March 7: Unions are calling for cross-sector renewable strike action to begin on this date if the government does not do a U-turn on pension reform

Read also: French unions unfazed by low protest turnout, all hopes on March 7

March 8: International Women’s Day

March 26: Clocks go forward

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