[Article updated August 15 at 12:00 with details of the allocation de rentrée scolaire payments being made this week.]
Assumption Day Public Holiday
Today (August 15) is the day of l’Assomption (The Assumption), which is a public holiday in France, marking the occasion of the Virgin Mary’s bodily ascent into heaven at the end of her earthly life.
The feast day was first introduced by Bishop Cyril of Alexandria in the fifth century and placed on August 15.
Assumption Day is also a public holiday in countries including Belgium, Austria, Andorra, Croatia, Greece, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Slovenia and parts of Germany.
In some parts of the world, parades and festivals are organised to celebrate the day. For example, the population of the hamlet of Praha, Texas, swells from 25 to around 5,000 people for the festivities held there.
The end of the latest heatwave
Temperatures in France have now fallen from the 35-40C peaks experienced last week, and are expected to remain in the low 20s for the next few days.
There are 38 departments under a yellow storm warning this morning, mostly in the north of France. You can find out more about this on the Météo France website.
However, there are no heat warnings in place anymore.
Lacanau Pro surfing competition
Today marks the start of the Lacanau Pro surfing competition, which has been running since 1979.
The competition takes place on the Lacanau beach to the west of Bordeaux, bringing together some of the best surfers in Europe and the world.
Visitors can also attend extra events such as zumba workshops, yoga sessions and vintage surfboard exhibitions.
New aids for electric bike purchases
From today, people wishing to buy an electric bike (vélo à assistance électrique or VAE) should be able to receive more state funding.
People wishing to buy an e-bike are already able to apply for a Bonus Vélo de l’État (state bike bonus) of up to €200 if their revenu fiscal de référence (taxable income) is less than or equal to €13,489 per household ‘part’ (unit).
You can find out more about this criterion on the government website.
From today August 15, this sum increases to a maximum of €300, but will vary depending on the income of the applicant.
For the lowest-income households and people with disabilities, the aid can increase to €400.
If you are hoping to buy an electric cargo bike – with a rack or storage case, for example – the government grant could reach €2,000, as opposed to €1,000 currently.
However, this funding is capped at 40% of the original price of the bike.
In addition, people wishing to access grants will no longer have to have their government funding matched by a grant from their local authority, a process which has caused issues for some in the past.
Le Festival Berlioz
On Thursday (August 18) the Festival Berlioz will begin in La Côte-Saint-André in Isère – the composer’s birthplace – running until August 31.
This symphonic festival is one of the biggest classical music events of the year, bringing together around 1,000 musicians to perform 50 concerts.
The majority of these events take place in the courtyard of the Louis XI Castle, although others happen in the Berlioz farm and in nearby churches.
Thursday’s opening ceremony will include concerts, dance workshops and food tastings.
First allocation de rentrée scolaire payments made
Lower-income families in France will receive a first payment of their allocation de rentrée scolaire (ARS) back-to-school benefit on Tuesday (August 16).
This year, the amount paid to help such families with the cost of preparing for the new school year has been increased by 4%, and this change means that a second payment will also be made a few days later.
The ARS varies depending on the age of the child and the financial situation of their parents. Families with one child will qualify if they earn less than €25,370, those with two children must earn less than €31,225 and so on.
Children aged between six and 10 will receive €392.05, while 11 to 14-year-olds will get €413.69 and 15 to 18-year-olds will receive €428.02 as long as they are still in education.
You can find out more about the ARS on the French government website.