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A Glance around France: Pyrenees farmers ‘declare war’ and Bordeaux students face lodging crisis

In our round-up of stories from around France on Thursday, farmers "declare war" in the Pyrenees, vegan militants carry out attacks on butcher shops in Brittany, and Paris airports are changing hands.

A Glance around France: Pyrenees farmers 'declare war' and Bordeaux students face lodging crisis
French farmers in the Pyrenees have "declared war". Photo: AFP

Farmers block roads in bid to stop the release of Slovenian bears into the Pyrenees

French farmers in the Pyrenees have “declared war” over the arrival of two Slovenian bears.

About 100 farmers, angry at losing their sheep and other livestock to the 40 bears currently roaming the mountain range, took up position late on Wednesday on the RN 134 route near Sarrance.

But their blockade may well have been in vain: on Thursday morning two helicopters, believed to be carrying the new bears, flew over their heads to delivery their cargo.

The picture below taken in Sarrance in the French Pyrenees shows the words “War is declared” painted on the road.

 

The two new animals are part of a 10-year “Bear Plan” to increase their numbers to some 50 sexually mature bears.

Some 40 brown bears currently live 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.

Vegan militants attack butcher shops in Breton city

In the French city of Brest two butchers have become the latest to be attacked in a growing wave of vandalism carried out by vegan militants.

The two shops were daubed with slogans including “Stop massacring animals.”

Incidents of vandalism and intimidation have reached such a level that the country's butchers' confederation, representing 18,000 businesses, sounded the alarm publicly in June and asked the government for protection.

“Since the start of the year, we've seen 17 butcher shop windows destroyed and dozens of acts of vandalism,” said Jean-Francois Guihard, head of the CFBCT confederation.

French state gets green light to privatise Paris airports

The French parliament has given the green light to the government to sell off its majority shareholding, worth nearly 10 billion euros, in the company that runs Paris airports.

The Assemblée Nationale voted in the early hours of Thursday to let the state sell all or part of its 50.6 percent stake in Aeroports de Paris, the group which runs the French capital's three airports – Orly, Charles De Gaulle (CDG), and Le Bourget.

The vote overturned a law which obliged the state to maintain its majority in the company.

Passengers who have ranked Orly and CDG airports among the worst in Europe will no doubt be hoping that any privatisation will improve their all-round experience of travelling through the two hubs.
 

Golfers volunteer to fix damage by rampaging wild boar in Atlantic resort

Golfers have turned out in their dozens on the French seaside resort of Olonne-sur-Mer to fix the damage wreaked by rampaging wild boar on the greens of their local course.

“We have always had this type of attack at this time of year but never on this scale,” said the golf course director Laurent Geslin.

Around 1,000 square metres were damaged this week by the foraging animals. Some 40 golfers have turned out to help fix the greens and let play get back in swing.

 

And it's not just golfers who have a problem with wild boars in France right now. Farmers across the country have called on the government to take measures to compensate them as the animals tear up their fields and ruin their livelihoods.

Student accommodation crisis continues in Bordeaux

The student accommodation crisis in Bordeaux has led a local university teacher to publicly call on authorities to step in and resolve the issue.

“People of Bordeaux, open your eyes!” wrote Marc Carrey.

“I am sick of seeing my young students arrive in class exhausted because they have had to get up at 4 am (and commute as they live so far away),” he said.

https://www.sudouest.fr/2018/10/03/etudiants-sans-logement-a-bordeaux-le-cri-d-alarme-5446102-2780.php

Last month a student group pitched tents by a tram stop in Bordeaux and mockingly advertised them as accommodation to highlight the crisis.

Bordeaux University has sent an email to all its staff requesting that some of them offer lodgings to students.

Des étudiants sans logement campent sur le campus de Bordeaux

France’s most notorious gangster moves into secure new home near Lille

The town of Vendin-le-Vieil near Lille has become home to France’s best-known criminal, jailbreak artist Redoine Faid, who on Thursday moved into one of the country’s most secure prisons.

Faid, who has said his life of crime was inspired by blockbusters such as “Scarface” and “Reservoir Dogs,” in July pulled off a spectacular helicopter jailbreak from a high-security prison near Paris.

He was recaptured this week north of Paris and was later taken to the jail in Vendin-le-Vieil, where he was placed in solitary confinement as he awaits trial.

The three-year-old jail is home to some of France’s most violent and troublesome prisoners.

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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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