What are the rules on having a chimney fire in France?

Location can impact the use of chimneys in a home

Indoor fireplaces are usually allowed, although there are rules in place
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Reader Question: Our new home has a beautiful open chimney but it clearly has not been used by the previous occupants. We do not know if this was solely their choice, or if there was a specific reason forbidding it. How would we find out?

Although a fixture of many traditional homes, having a functioning fireplace is something that is regulated in France.

Both the use of a chimney (cheminée) or wood stove to have a fire can be affected by the rules.

They apply both to ‘open’ fireplaces and those with an insert or stove (closed chimneys), and to wood stoves which use pellets as well as logs.

Usually allowed in rural areas

The main rule for chimney or wood stove fires is to check whether the local mairie allows them.

In some areas, due to the local surroundings (such as dense forests), fires of this kind may be prohibited, so you should always contact your mairie to see if there are any rules on lighting an indoor fire.

Secondly, if you live in a co-ownership, you will have to check whether the rules allow for open fireplaces.

Some may ban fireplaces due to the increased risk of fire, although this is more commonly an issue in larger cities and not the countryside.

In addition, those with chimneys or wood stoves must keep up with maintenance of their fires.

For chimneys in particular, legislation introduced in 2023 requires chimneys to be cleaned at least once per year, and in certain cases more (if requested by local authorities or your insurance provider).

You should check cleaning rules with local sweepers (ramoneurs) and your insurance company.

Read more: How often do I need to sweep my chimney in French home?

Rules in Paris and other cities are different

In the Île-de-France region (Paris and the surrounding departments) rules are tighter due to local rules on air pollution.

Open fireplaces follow the same rules as above, but closed fireplaces (those with a stove or insert) must also have emissions under a certain level.

You can find out more information about this here.

These rules do not apply to all communes within the region, but only those with the poorest air pollution – again, you should check with your mairie whether your commune is classed as being in a ‘zone sensible’ for this purpose.

It is also no longer possible for an open chimney to be the main source of heating for a home within the region – fireplaces are allowed as an additional choice of heating or for aesthetic purposes, but cannot be the sole way to keep a house warm.

In Lyon, open fireplaces have also been banned due to air pollution concerns.

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