Rural petrol stations struggle with 3-cent cut

Rural petrol stations in France are struggling to put in place a new three-cent reduction in fuel prices, claiming they cannot afford it.

Station owners in rural parts of France are saying the new measure, announced by the economics minister this week, is bad for businesses that have already been in decline for years.

They simply can’t afford to drop their prices, they claim.

The number of stations in the countryside has decreased by two thirds in the last 30 years – a result of petrol services in supermarkets and hypermarkets becoming more popular.

But a spokesperson for the national federation for the automobile industry, Emile Repusseau, underlined that people living in the countryside are precisely the ones who need the three-cent reduction the most.

“Their situation is becoming critical,” she told newspaper Le Parisien.

But, she noted:

“A lot of these initiatives have zero profitability [for petrol stations]. As a result, it is impossible to ask them to put in place extra efforts.”

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French village inherits fortune from Austrian who fled Nazis

An Austrian man who fled the Nazis with his family during World War II has bequeathed a large part of his fortune to the French village whose residents hid them from persecution for years.

French village inherits fortune from Austrian who fled Nazis
The village of Chambon-sur-Lignon in Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, France. Photo: AFP

Eric Schwam, who died aged 90 on December 25th, wrote the surprise gift into his will for Chambon-sur-Lignon, located on a remote mountain plateau in the Auvergne area of southeast France that historically has a large Protestant community known for offering shelter to those in need.

“It's a large amount for the village,” Mayor Jean-Michel Eyraud told AFP.

He declined to specify the amount since the will was still being sorted out, but his predecessor, who told a local website that she met with Schwam and his wife twice to discuss the gift, said it was around two million euros.

Schwam and his family arrived in 1943 and were hidden in a school for the duration of the war, and remained until 1950.

He later studied pharmacy and married a Catholic woman from the region near Lyon, where they lived.

Eyraud said Schwam asked that the money be used for educational and youth initiatives, in particular scholarships.

Around 2,500 Jews were taken in and protected during World War II by Chambon-sur-Lignon, whose residents were honoured as “Righteous Among the Nations” by Israel's Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial centre.

Over the centuries the village has taken in a wide range of people fleeing religious or political persecution, from priests driven into hiding during the French Revolution to Spanish republicans during the civil war of the 1930s, and more recently migrants and refugees from the Middle East and Africa.