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A Glance around France: Pesticide protests planned and a huge swindle in the north

In our look at the stories around France on Friday we cover the pesticide protests planned across the country, a crackdown on scooter riders who invade cycle lanes in Paris and a huge swindle in the north.

A Glance around France: Pesticide protests planned and a huge swindle in the north
Photo: AFP

Nord department swindled 

Local authorities in the northern department of Nord are counting the cost of a massive swindle.

A conman who posed as an accountant for a road works company swindled some €800,000 from the authority after filing fake invoices.

The president of the council Jean-René Lecerf tried to give an explanation for how the council could be conned for such an amount by saying: “The invoices corresponded to real works being carried out and for the real costs. Everything was credible.”

Police have opened up an investigation which they admit is “complex”.

For more on this story CLICK HERE

Paris officials to fine motorists and scooter riders in bike lanes

Good news for cyclists in Paris.

The mayor Anne Hidalgo has announced that from now on officials at the Mairie will use 900 CCTV cameras to identify and fine motorists and scooter riders caught in bike lanes.

“We can see far too many motorbikes and scooters in lanes reserved for cyclists and too many thoughtless drivers who park in bike and bus lanes” Hidalgo said. 

Police in Paris say there are around 200 offences of this type each day caught on camera. How many more are there that are not caught on camera.

Pesticide protests across France 

If you are wondering what all the commotion is outside your local town hall in France on Friday evening it's likely to do with pesticides.

French people are being called to protest at 18.30 in front of their village town hall to protest against the ongoing use of pesticides.

“Pesticides are poisons that destroy everything that lives. They are a tragedy for health,” read the text calling on people to demonstrate.

Some 400 protests have been organised so far with over 250,000 vowing o turn up outside their town hall.

For more on this story CLICK HERE.

Mini-bus driver to blame for fatal crash at rail crossing

In December last year France was left stunned after six pupils were killed after the minibus they were travelling in was hit by a train at a rail crossing in Millas, in the south west.

While the driver claimed the barrier had been raised at the time of the crash a new report throws doubt on her version of the story and concludes that she broke too late and was unable to stop the mini-bus crashing through the barrier and on to the tracks.

The investigation is ongoing.

For more on this story CLICK HERE.

Speed camera fines to bring €1 billion

The amount of money collected from speed camera fines in France is expected to pass the billion euros mark next year.

The expected 12 percent jump in revenue is due in no small part to the motorists being caught out by the drop in the speed limit on secondary roads from 90km/h to 80km/h.

By the end of 2019 there will be some 4,700 speed cameras in France.

Student protests in Rennes and Montpellier

Universities in Rennes and Montpellier will be blocked on October 9th as student unions renew their protests against the government.

Student protests had flared up last spring but then died out in the summer when universities were closed and students headed to the beach.

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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