Only in France? ‘Semi-naked’ dancers help inaugurate… a water treatment plant

Why did the opening of a water treatment plant in central France require the presence of two young women in skimpy skirts and boob tubes? That's the question outraged social media users were asking in France this week.

Only in France?  'Semi-naked' dancers help inaugurate... a water treatment plant
Photo: Tours Métropole/Facebook
We are used to the sight of scantily clad women presenting prizes at the Tour de France, but not at the official inauguration of water treatment plants.
But there they were, two scantily clad women paid to stand alongside two elected officials responsible for cutting the ribbon at the opening of the new water treatment plant in Luynes, near Tours in central France. 
Standing alongside Philippe Briand, president of Tours Métropole Val de Loire, and Bertrand Ritouret, mayor of Luynes, the young women's attire at an event, that under normal circumstances would hardly have made news outside the local area, sparked outrage on social media and headlines on national news sites.
When the photo of the event was posted on the Facebook page of Tours Métropole Val de Loire social media users reacted angrily accusing organisers of “casual sexism”.
“Shameful,” said one commenter. “Girls in skimpy clothing, was it really necessary?”
One angry commenter named Scarlett Smulkowski wrote: “Is it not a bit…too much, half naked cheerleaders in the middle of these old 'uncles' in ties?”
Another user wrote: “Two young girls/women? dressed up in lascivious clothing under the amused gaze of these big pigs with lots of money that doesn't belong to them.”  
One Twitter user (see below) wrote: “Thank you for reminding us to do something each day to respect women.”
But the unwanted publicity prompted Philippe Briand the president of Tours Metropole to defend the presence and attire of the two women.
“Those who organised the inauguration invited all kinds of people including snake breeders, local actresses, musicians and a samba troupe. The two dancers were kind enough to take part and hold the ribbon so it could be cut.
“Everything went very well, everyone was very happy.” 
Briand objected to the controversy and described it as a “non-story”. 
“This wasn't Crazy Horse”, he said, referring to the famous Paris cabaret club.
Only in France: Pupils (and their teacher) pose naked for school photo


France’s mystery rooftop panther stolen from zoo

A black panther rescued from rooftops near the northern city of Lille last week has been stolen from the zoo where it was taken after capture, officials said.

France's mystery rooftop panther stolen from zoo
Photo: AFP/ Sapeurs Pompiers du Nord

The feline was seized overnight from the zoo in Maubeuge near the Belgian border, the city's mayor, Arnaud Decagny, told AFP on Tuesday.

“This animal was the only target,” Decagny said, adding that “considerable efforts” were made to force locks and avoid security systems.

Zoo personnel are worried about the young panther's health, “which is rather delicate because he lacks strength,” the mayor added, saying the animal was just a few months old and weighed between 25 and 30kg.

The panther after its capture. Photo League Protectrice des Animaux de la Nord de France/AFP

The panther was going to be transferred to a centre specialised in rehabilitating wild animals that had been domesticated.

Firefighters caught the cat last Wednesday as it roamed rooftops in Armentieres after escaping through the window of a private apartment believed to have been its home.

The panther's owner is thought to have escaped through the same window, for fear of being charged with illegally harbouring a wild animal.

Police have not located the fugitive owner, who could face charges of endangering the public, which is punishable by up to a year in prison and €15,000 in fines, Decagny said.