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France at a Glance: New Bordeaux transport tickets and a dam in the Jura that could burst

Here's a round up of some of the main news stories from around France on Thursday.

France at a Glance: New Bordeaux transport tickets and a dam in the Jura that could burst
Photo: Deposit photos

Nice

Nice airport will soon only be a short ride away from the city centre. 

Tests for the new tram line linking Nice to the city's Nice-Côte d’Azur airport were successfully carried out on Thursday. 

The new line 2 is scheduled to open on December 14. It should carry passengers from the city centre to the airport in 26 minutes, and transport an average of 15 000 passengers a day. City mayor Christian Estrosi inaugurated the event as well as the building of a new business district in the city. 

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Nantes 

Paris and Calais have had longstanding issues with sprawling migrant camps and recently authorities in the western city of Nantes have had the same conundrum.

This week a migrant camp where 600 people were living in the centre of the city was evacuated. 200 hundred police officers were present. The migrants were moved to five gymnasiums throughout the city, where they will be given two meals a day.

The judge who ordered the evacuation said that the situation was only temporary and that the state had to find a longer-term solution. 

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Burgundy/Côte d'Or

It's not only speeding drivers who get fined in France.

A man who was driving on a motorway between Dijon and Chalon-sur-saône in the department of Côte d'Or was given a driving ticket for driving too slowly. The driver slowed down after a car coming in the opposite direction flashed its headlights at him. Police caught him driving under 20km/h and he was fined 22 euros. 

The driver vowed to fight his fine in the courts.

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The Pyrenees 
 
All is not well in the Pyrenees and bears are to blame.
 
Dozens of farmers and lawmakers stormed out of a meeting Thursday with France's new environment minister after he confirmed that two more bears would soon be released into the Pyrenees mountains.
 
Some 40 brown bears currently roam the range between France and Spain after France began importing them from Slovenia in 1996 after the native population had been hunted to near-extinction.

 
The latest move to increase their numbers infuriated farmers who have long complained about the predators killing sheep and other livestock.
 
The addition of two more females was announced by former environment minister Nicolas Hulot last March as part of a 10-year “Bear Plan” to increase their numbers to some 50 sexually mature bears.
 
Northern France
 
Some rough weather is its way to northern France.

High winds and storms are expected across Northern France on Sunday from West to East, as storm Ali makes its way across from the British Isles, where it has wreaked havoc over the past week.
 
Météo France said winds of up to 110kms per hour could hit the coastal areas. Regions likely to be most affected are the departments of the Manche and the Nord Pas de Calais. 
 
 
Paris 
 
People were left shocked in the French capital on Thursday after the news of a vicious attack circulated online and in the media. 
 
Police in Paris are investigating a homophobic attack which took place in the 20th arrondissement of the French capital after a man hugged his male partner in public. 
 
The victim Arnaud Gagnoud published photos of his swollen face after the attack on Twitter to show the damage caused by the violence with a message saying that he knew “someday it would happen to me”. 
 

 
Gagnoud told the French press that the group of youths responsible for the attack levelled “homophobic insults” at the two men before hitting him around the head repeatedly. 
 
 
Jura 
 
There was some worrying news from Jura on Thursday after an expert revealed that the Vouglans dam could be suffering under the (water) pressure.
 
The Vouglans dam located at the Lac de Vouglans in eastern France could burst at any moment and flood the Ain and Rhône rivers, an expert has told the French press. 
 
The expert, who has spent his entire career at EDF, the French electric utility company which manages the dam, revealed that the construction has “stability” problems. 
 

 
If the dam were to burst a wave 12 metres-high would hit more than 50 villages and flood the Ain valley and affect the nuclear power plant 90km south of Vouglans, according to predictions.
 
 
Bordeaux
 
There was some good news for the people of Bordeaux on Thursday after they finally got a date for the launch of the city's new transport ticketing system. 

 
Bordeaux is set to introduce its new transport ticketing system in March 2019… 20 months later than planned. 
 
The new system will see only contactless tickets available, which will allow passengers to top-up travel cards with their smartphones. 
 

 
“We have not progressed as we would have liked,” said the vice president of Bordeaux Métropole, the organisation in charge of the city's transport network. “This is partly due to the fact that it is an extremely high-tech system.”
 
The organisation is also planning to make other improvements to the network, such as increasing the number of buses and trams, trialing 'on demand bus stops' and continuing to target harassment on the city's public transport. 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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LANGUAGE AND CULTURE

Snobs, beaches and drunks – 5 things this joke map teaches us about France

A popular joke 'map' of France has once again been widely shared on social media, sparking endless jokes at the expense of certain regions of France.

Snobs, beaches and drunks - 5 things this joke map teaches us about France
Image AFP/cartesfrance.fr
But while the map – created by cartesfrance.fr – is clearly intended to be comic, it teaches us some important points about France’s regional divides, local stereotypes and in-jokes.
 

 
 
 
Here are some of the key points.
 
1. Everyone hates Parisians
 
The map is purportedly France as seen through the eyes of Parisians, and contains a series of snobbish and rude generalisations about every part of France that is not maison (home) in the capital and its surroundings. The great majority of the country is labelled simply as paysans (peasants).
 
The general stereotype about Parisians is that they are snobs, rudely judging the rest of the country which they regard as backwards and full of ploucs (yokels) apart from small areas which make nice holiday destinations.
 
Like all sweeping generalisations, this is true of some people and very much not of others, but one of the few things that can unite people from all areas of France is how much they hate les parigots têtes de veaux (a colloquialism that very roughly translates as ‘asshole Parisians’)
 
 
2. Staycations rule
 
Even before Covid-related travel restrictions, holidaying within France was the norm for many French people.
 
As the map shows, Parisians regard the southern and western coastlines as simply plages (beaches) which they decamp to for at least a month in July or August. In the height of summer French cities tend to empty out (apart from tourists) as locals head to the seaside or the countryside.
 
 
In winter the Pyrenees and Alps are popular ski destinations.
 
3. Northerners like a drink
 
There is a very widespread stereotype, although not really backed up by evidence, that the people of Normandy, Brittany and the Nord area like a drink or two. Many suggest this is to cope with the weather, which does tend to be rainier than the rest of France (although has plenty of sunshine too).
 
 
Official health data doesn’t really back this up, as none of these areas show a significantly greater than average rate of daily drinkers, although Nord does hold the sad record for the highest rate of people dying from alcohol-related liver disease.
 
What’s certainly true is that Brittany and Normandy are cider country, with delicious locally-produced ciders on sale everywhere, well worth a try if you are visiting.
 
 
4. Poverty
 
The map labels the north eastern corner of France as simply pauvres – the poor.
 
The north east of the country was once France’s industrial and coal-mining heartland, and as traditional industries have declined there are indeed pockets of extreme poverty and high unemployment. The novel The End of Eddy, telling the story of novelist Edouard Louis’ childhood in a struggling small town near Amiens, lays out the social problems of such areas in stark detail.
 
However poverty is not just confined to one corner of France and the département that records the highest levels of deprivation is actually Seine-Saint-Denis in the Paris suburbs.
 
5. Southern prejudice
 
According to the map, those from the south are either branleurs (slackers) or menteurs (liars). 
 
This isn’t true, obviously, there are many lovely, hard-working and truthful people in southern France, but the persistent stereotype is that they are lazy – maybe because it’s too hot to do much work – and slightly shifty.
 
Even people who aren’t actually rude about southerners can be pretty patronising, as shown when south west native Jean Castex became the prime minister in summer 2020. 
 
Castex has a noticeable south west accent which sparked much comment from the Paris-based media and political classes, with comments ranging from the patronising – “I love his accent, I feel like I’m on holiday” – to the very patronising – “that accent is a bit rugby” (a reference to the fact that TV rugby commentators often come from France’s rugby heartlands in the south west).
 
 
In his first year as PM, Castex has undertaken a dizzying schedule of appointments around the four corners of France, so hopefully the lazy myth can now be put to bed.
 
And anyone tempted to take the piss out of his accent – glottophobie (accent prejudice) is now a crime in France.
 
For more maps that reflect France, head to cartesfrance.fr
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