France’s top 13 barely believable stories of 2014

Here are our 13 barely believable must-read stories from France over the last 12 months, featuring rose-scented flatulence pills, noses made to look like the Eiffel Tower and a mind-boggling blunder by French rail chiefs.

France's top 13 barely believable stories of 2014
Some stories in France this year were just hard to believe. And one wasn't true at all. Photos: AFP

Some stories could happen in France and then there are others that, even in France, just seem too wacky to be true.

Read on:

New French trains too fat for platforms

The blunder of the year, without a doubt. French rail operators will have to shell out tens of millions of euros to adjust 1,300 platforms after a "mindboggling" blunder saw them order hundreds of new trains that are actually too wide for stations. 

French scallops cleaned in China then sent back to France

Why on earth are scallops fished in France's west coast shipped off to China to be cleaned, only to be sent all the way back to France to be cooked up?  Here's why it's apparently worth the cost.

Artist exposes vagina in Paris museum protest

Luxembourg-based visual artist Deborah de Robertis shocked visitors at Paris’s famous Musée D’Orsay with her own live representation of the 19th century painting ‘L’Origine du monde’ (Origin of the world). The May 2014 performance was greeted with applause by bystanders, but museum staff weren’t so impressed — they told her to cover up.

French TV news channel accidentally shows porn 

Viewers of a French TV channel got a full frontal introduction to Lars Von Trier’s X-rated new film “Nymphomaniac- Volume 2” when some of the more hardcore scenes from the movie were accidentally broadcast in February.  'Hard' news like they'd  never seen before. 


French families sue after babies switched at birth

This extraordinary story surrounded two baby girls who were mixed up by maternity hospital workers in France and grew up in the wrong families. Twenty years on, the families want €12 million in compensation. 

Escaped 'tiger' on the loose near Paris

Residents of the French capital were gripped with panic in November when news broke that a big cat had been spotted roaming around a supermarket car park. A frantic hunt was quickly underway by Paris authorities, but it soon emerged the 'beast' wasn't what it appeared to be…

French MP fined over grammar row in parliament

The inaugural winners of The Local's "Only in France" award went to two French lawmakers, who were involved in a heated battle over a narrow but crucial bit of grammar that resulted in a hefty fine for one of them and a furious debate over feminism.

Frenchman develops scented flatulence pills

Santa Claus lookalike Christian Poincheval graced the world with an amazing invention in November when he unveiled a pill that makes bodily gases smell like roses and chocolate. Is he just a bag of wind?

Homeless people forced to wear yellow triangles

In December, the city of Marseille was blasted for using Nazi-era tactics to identify its homeless population by issuing them with ID cards, adorned with a yellow triangle. The cards detail their health issues and are worn visibly.

“When you have done with the radiators, come to my bed". One of many indecent propositions these two unlucky plumbers had to put up with. Find out what else the woman did to be handed a 12-month suspended prison sentence.

Probe after French cops 'black up for negro party'

The words racism and cops might have become synonymous with Ferguson (Missouri) in 2014, but these French police officers could arguably win this year’s medal for the most overt display of political incorrectness. Find out why they managed to find themselves knee-deep in controversy. 

Parisians snap up 'butt plugs' after 'Tree' fiasco

Right-wing outrage and vandals put an end to an inflatable "Tree" artwork in Paris that was said to resemble a giant sex toy. But the controversy piqued Parisians' sexual curiosity and sent many – both men and women – rushing to buy real "butt plugs".

Eiffel Tower' nose surgery booms in China

Although this final one is not actually from France it is related to France and probably the hardest to believe. The year got off to a funny start when it was reported that scores of Chinese graduates were paying for plastic surgery to make their noses resemble the Eiffel Tower. The move may sound like a wind-up but is the latest tactic to help jobseekers get their noses in front.

And finally one extra, for those ready to believe just about anything:

Ratlib: Paris unveils plan to become world's first rat-free city

"Authorities in the French capital unveiled a pioneering five-point plan to clean up the city’s notoriously dirty streets with the aim of becoming the world’s first rat-free metropolis by the year 2025."

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