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A Glance around France: Naked grape picking in Auvergne and anger in Normandy towards the British

In our round-up of stories from around France on Tuesday there is anger in Normandy towards the British once again, naked grape harvesting in central France and why the price of a burial plot in Paris has gone through the roof.

A Glance around France: Naked grape picking in Auvergne and anger in Normandy towards the British
Photo: AFP

'The British have pilfered everything'

There was anger in Normandy this week when fisherman returned in their boats on the first day of the official scallop fishing season.

The French fishermen returned on Monday with only a 12th of their usual haul from the Baie de Seine area where the plentiful scallop fields normally offer rich pickings.

They blamed the British fishermen who have been raiding the stocks since August, getting a lead on their French counterparts who are banned from fishing for scallops before October 1st.

French fishermen told France Info radio they returned with 360 kilos after 12 hours of fishing whereas it would normally only take two hours to net a tonne of scallops.

“It's a disaster, they've scraped up everything. We can say thank you to the British, it's like being in May on the closing day of the season, there's nothing left,” said one fisherman.

As The Local reported British and French fishermen were involved in skirmishes in the sea off the coast of France at the end of August which saw stones thrown, insults hurled and boats rammed before the two sides reached an agreement after fraught talks.

For more on this story CLICK HERE.

Naked grape picking in the Auvergne

For the second year running, naked grape pickers have taken to vineyards in the Auvergne region of central France.

Grape harvest season is well underway in France and naturally some naturists prefer to do it in the buff, despite the autumn chill.

The French Federation of Naturism organised the naked grape picking in a vineyard in the Puy-de-Dome part of the Auvergne.

“We wanted to show that naturism is a way of life, a concept of life that you can practice while doing many different activities,” said Thierry Guillot, president of the Auvergne branch of the French Federation of Naturism.

It's worth a reminder that 2.6 million people practice naturism in France.

For more on this story CLICK HERE.

Time running out for Charente-Maritime's mystery millionaire

The search is on in Charente-Maritime to find the owner of a lottery ticket now worth one million euros. The ticket was bought in the town of Saint-Germain-de-Lusignan on August 10th.

The Euromillions winner now has only seven days  to come forward or the risk losing their jackpot. 

For more on the story CLICK HERE.

Hunt for Dordogne murderer

Police in the Dordogne are hunting for the killer of a well-known shopkeeper in the town of Perigueux. 

The 65-year-old Hervé Contie ran a leather shop in the old town after running the Wagram shop. He was also involved in the local rugby scene for many years and was popular among locals.

He was murdered at his home on Rue Charnay-Frachet.

For more on this story CLICK HERE.

Price of a burial spot in Paris goes through the roof

The lack of burial space in Paris is sending the prices of a place in a cemetery sky high, according to a new report.

Anyone who wishes to be laid to rest in Paris will have to have a spare €15,000 for two square metres. That compares to €11,000 back in 2008.

The prices of a burial spot is so high basically because there are only around 150 places for 5,000 requests.

The problem is 97 percent of grave plots in Paris have been sold to families “for life”, whereas it is now the norm to sell them for 10 or 50 years.

For more on this story CLICK HERE

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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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