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Glance around France: French students move into care homes and violent storms head for the south

Our round-up of the stories from around France on Wednesday include French students moving into nursing homes in Montpellier and storm alerts in the south east.

Glance around France: French students move into care homes and violent storms head for the south
Photo: AFP

French woman becomes first woman to win World’s Best Pastry Chef award

French pastry chef Christelle Brua has become the first woman to be awarded the title of World’s Best Restaurant Pastry Chef.

Brua, who is the head pastry chef at three Michelin-starred restaurant Pré Catelan in the swanky 16th arrondissement of Paris, was handed the prestigious Prix Valrhona title for Best Pastry Chef in Morocco on Wednesday. 

The prize was awarded to her by restaurant association Les Grandes Tables du Monde.

The dish that clinched her the title was her apple sugar soufflé, with caramel, cider and popping candy ice cream.
 

For more on this story CLICK HERE.

Storm and flood alerts in south east and Corsica 
 
A total of seven departments in the south east and Corsica have been placed on orange alert — the second highest warning — for storms and flooding.
 
The Bouches-du-Rhone, Herault, Var, Gard Aveyron, as well as Haute-Corse and Corse-du-Sud were placed on alert at 10 am on Wednesday and are expected to remain so until at least 6 am on Thursday. 
 
People in these areas are advised to be vigilant due to the risk of dangerous weather. 
 

 

For more on this story CLICK HERE.

French students move into care homes in Montpellier

Students in the southern French city of Montpellier are moving into care homes for the elderly allowing them to benefit from cheap rent as well as provide some much needed company for the older residents. 
 
So far, 11 students are living in nursing homes (Ehpad in French), paying between just €140 and €250 in rent each month. 
 
In return, they are expected to socialise with the elderly residents, befriend and talk to them for several hours a week, encourage them to be more active and help them with everyday tasks.
 
 
Rats take over in Beziers
 
Paris isn't the only French town struggling with its rat population. 
 
In fact, the southern French town of Beziers is so overrun with rats that an elderly lady was recently bitten by one in her own home, leading to a petition from local residents in a bid to get the local authorities to do something.
 
However the mayor of the Beziers isn't convinced its down to the authorities to solve it, claiming it is the fault of residents for littering and leaving their bins outside. 
 
“We have ordered local police to educate people who leave their bins out … I thought that it was enough to explain and teach, it is not enough,” Robert Ménard told the French press, adding that he will introduce a 1,500 euro fine for littering. 
 

 
Agricultural workers hospitalized in Angers
 
A total of 61 people working in a plant nursery near the western French city of Angers were recently hospitalised after being poisoned at work.
 
Their symptoms included breathing difficulties, nausea and irritated eyes after a suspicious odour spread through the nursery. 
 
“Subject to confirmation by a thorough investigation, the origin of these intoxications could be due to the spreading of a phytosanitary (plant) product being produced in the nursery,” said the prefecture.
 
“The product concerned probably contained sodium methane, which can cause lung disorder,” they said.

 

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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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