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A Glance around France: Threatening graffiti in Corsica, and is Dijon set for ‘green stardom’?

Here's a look at some of the main stories from around France on Friday.

A Glance around France: Threatening graffiti in Corsica, and is Dijon set for 'green stardom'?
Burgundy
 
Dijon is famous for the green vineyards surrounding it producing the famed Burgudy wine.
 
And now, the city is hoping to be famous for being 'green' by becoming European Green Capital in 2021.
 
The town hall believes its environmental policies developed over the past 15 years, such as introducing hybrid buses, educating children in schools about environmental issues and limiting cars in the city centre means it has a fighting chance of winning the contest. It must hand in its application next month.
 
The European award is given out every year and 2018's winner was the Dutch town Nijmegen. The only French town to have won is Nantes, in 2013. Winners receive 350,000 euros.
 

 
 
Corsica
 
Some threatening graffiti that has started popping up around Corsica isn't being taken lightly.
 
On Thursday a preliminary investigation was opened into some graffiti scribbled on the wall of a secondary school and a former hospital in Bastia on the island's east coast.
 
One of the tags was written in Corsican and said: “Corsicans, take up your arms, war is about the start'. It was signed 'So qui' which means 'here' in the Corsican language and was probably a reference to a recent quarrel in a school in Bastia over a pupil who refused to speak French in class and only spoke Corsican, according to Ouest France. 
 
The other tag, written in French read: “Community of decline: you fight our people, We will kill yours! Signed Aramata Nova”. Armata Nova means 'new army' in Corsican. 
 
Tensions flare up easily on the Mediterranean island, between Corsican nationalists who want more independence and recognition of the Corsican language, and those who do not.
 

 

 
The south east
 
French police in the south of France have been left stunned by a motorcyclist's speeding. 
 
A young motorcyclist shocked — and annoyed — police in the Ardeche department of south east France on Thursday by breaking the record for speeding this year. 
 
The 20-year-old biker was caught by authorities going 200 km/h on an 80 km/h stretch of road. 
 
“It's sad to talk about a record but this is the most significant speeding we've seen this year,” said the head of the road safety department.
 

 

 
Marseille
 
Fairground workers in Marseille are furious… and they're letting everyone know about it. 
 
Outraged fairground workers took to the streets of the southern city to protest the mayor's proposal for a new location for the fairground while scheduled construction work takes place. 
 
But the mayor is not sympathetic to their cause.
 
“It is not acceptable that some fairground workers paralyze the city,” he said. 
 

 

 
Brittany 
 
A small island off the coast of the port city of Brest in Brittany is no longer accessible to the public after the private owner built a wall and installed video cameras to keep people out. 
 
But a collective, with support from the mayor, is fighting back, hoping to restore public access for those who like walking and sailing in the area. 
 

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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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