A Glance around France: Bullet proof vests in the Var, and have wolves returned to Brittany?

Here's a look at some of the main stories from around France including the possibility that wolves have returned to Brittany after a century away.

A Glance around France: Bullet proof vests in the Var, and have wolves returned to Brittany?
Photo: AFP

Bullet proof vests in the Var

Ambulance crews in the Var department of southern France will wear bullet-proof vests from now on in order to protect them during risky emergency call outs because they fear becoming “collateral victims”.

Whether it's terrorism-related incidents or gun violence between gangs or just being called out to treat a psychologically ill patient, emergency crews with the Samu ambulance service will now wear the bullet proof vests.

“Our teams are not as protected as they should be,” read a statement from the head of the Var Samu.

For more on this story CLICK HERE.

No free transport in Bordeaux

Several towns in France, most notably Dunkirk, have rolled out a system of free public transport much to the delight of locals and visitors, which has put pressure on France's larger cities to do the same.

But it won't be happening in Bordeaux anytime soon after local politicians firmly rejected the idea.

“It's a fantasy that I don't understand,” said Bordeaux mayor Alain Juppé. “If it's free, who is going to pay?”

Juppé said that actually transport in Bordeaux was already two-thirds free for users, because they only pay one third of the real cost, whereas general tax payers pay the rest.

For more on this story CLICK HERE.

Have wolves returned to Brittany after a century away?

A photographer has claimed that wolves have returned to the Brittany region of western France for the first time in a century after seeing one with his very own eyes.

The photographer said he observed the animal for around a minute at the Lac de Guerlédan in the Morbihan department of Brittany, before it ran away.

He said it was around 60cm in height and was convinced it was a female.

Unfortunately he didn't have time to get his camera out to get proof. But a few days later some animal excrement was found and tests revealed it contained deer hairs and bones from small animals, all characteristic signs of the presence of a wolf, according to a specialist.

France's Wolf Observatory (L'observatoire de Loup) is looking into the sighting and hoping to gain proof of the wolf's presence.

However authorities at France's National Office of hunting and wildlife have so far declined to officially confirm the presence of wolves in Brittany. 

The animals are however slowly colonizing France and are present in 35 departments, mostly in the centre south and east of the country – so far away from Brittany.

For more on this story CLICK HERE.

And speaking of wolves…

Wolf attacks on the increase in Provence

There are concerns among farmers in Provence over the rise in the number of wolf attacks.

Last week some 25 sheep and lambs were killed at one farm in the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence which was to the total of around 300 attacks in Provence since the start of the year.

The French government has strict rules on the number of wolves that can be killed each year with the number currently standing at just 42. French farmers want that number raised.

For more on this story CLICK HERE

Flu vaccines in Occitanie

From this autumn people living in the south west region of Occitanie will be able to be vaccinated against the flu at their local pharmacy rather than having to go to the doctors.

Pharmacists aged over 18 will be allowed to administer the injections although it will only be available at pharmacies that signed up to be part of the scheme.

The French government hopes that more of the population will protect themselves against the flu virus and if the experiment in Occitanie is a success then from next autumn pharmacies across the country will be able to administer the vaccine.

For more on this story CLICK HERE

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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/
But while the map – created by – 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