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What’s changing in France in February 2021

Price rises for gas, electricity and motorway travel all come into effect this month

Prices will increase for gas, electricity and motorway travel from today, as new rules for motorbikes are introduced. Benefits for students and the unemployed during the health crisis are also changing. We explain.

Winter sales to end soon

Winter sales will finish on February 16 throughout France. The sales usually begin in early January but this year - due to the health crisis - they were pushed back to January 20.

Gas prices to rise

Regulated gas prices will rise on average 3.5% from today. This represents a 0.9% rise for customers who use gas for cooking; 2.1% for cooking and hot water; and 3.7% for heating.

Electricity prices to rise

Electricity prices will go up on average 1.6% for consumers on bleu résidentiel rates, which are fixed by the government.

The rise was recommended by energy regulator la Commision de régulation de l'énergie (CRE) and has been approved by the Economy Ministry. It represents a €15 increase on an average household bill.

Bleu professionnel rates will also rise 2.6%.

Rising prices for motorway travel 

From February 1, motorway toll prices will rise between 0.3-0.65%, following stipulations in government contracts with motorway management companies.

Motorbikes no longer allowed to overtake car queues

Motorbikes will no longer be able to overtake queueing cars in the 11 departments where it is currently authorised in France. Drivers will face a fine of €135 and three points being removed from their licence for doing so. 

The new rule follows a trial which has been running in Bouches-du-Rhône, Gironde and Rhône since 2016. A report released by road safety agency la Sécurité routière found that motorbike accidents decreased by 10% on roads where overtaking was banned. 


Fixed interest rates for Livret A and LDDS savings accounts

Interest rates are to be fixed at 0.5% for 2021 for Livret A and LDDS (Livret de développement durable et solidaire) savings accounts.

Livret A and LDDs are both tax-free instant access savings accounts available to all.

Taxi fares remain stable

The minimum charge for a taxi ride will stay fixed at €7.30.

The price which goes onto the clock is set at €4.18 from the point a customer enters the taxi and costs €1.12 per kilometre for the rest of the journey. Fees are capped at €37.66 per hour for slow-moving traffic.

Ticket-restos valid for longer

Ticket-restaurants (luncheon vouchers) from 2020, which would normally become invalid at the end of February 2021, can now be used until September 2021. 

Use of the 2020 vouchers has been extended in the context of restaurant closures due to the pandemic. The daily limit on spending for vouchers will remain at €38.

Some cigarette prices to change

While the price of most packets of 20 cigarettes remains the same, the cost will go up, or down, for a few brands. Packets of Camel and News Fortuna cigarettes will go up by 10c, whereas Lucky Strikes will go down by 10c.

Psychological support available for students

chèque psy - promised by President Macron in January - will be made available to all students this month to help support their mental health as the Covid-19 pandemic continues to interrupt their university studies.

The cheque can be used as payment by students who wish to see a psychiatrist or psychologist.

New rules for partial unemployment

From February, people in France currently accessing chômage partiel benefits, who work for businesses that have been forced to close during the health crisis (but are not among the sectors the government have deemed severely affected), will receive 72% of their net salary instead of the 80% they received previously.  

A minimum payment has been set at €8.11 per hour.

People accessing chômage partiel benefits, who work for businesses that are among those severely affected, will continue to receive 84% of their net salaries until the end of March 2021. 

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