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Glance around France: Mayors resign en masse and a dark day for wolves in Provence

Our round-up of the stories from around France on Friday includes mayors in mass resignation in central France, wolves being shot in Provence and a street is named after a policeman hero in a Paris suburb.

Glance around France: Mayors resign en masse and a dark day for wolves in Provence
Hunters have shot and killed two wolves in the foothills of the Alps near the Provence town of Grasse. Photo: AFP

70 furious mayors and councillors resign to protest maternity closure in Indre 

Seventy elected local officials, including 19 mayors and 50 deputy mayors, have resigned in protest at the closure of a maternity ward in the town of Le Blanc in central France.

The move was meant to express “despair at not being listened to by the government,” said Le Blanc’s Socialist mayor Annick Gombert, adding that President Emmanuel Macron’s administration showed “profound contempt for rural territoires.”

The maternity ward was shut in June, meaning that women about to give birth have to make an hour-long journey to maternity wards in the towns of Châteauroux or Poitiers.

For more on this story CLICK HERE.

Hunters shoot two wolves in Provence

Hunters have shot and killed two wolves in the foothills of the Alps near the Provence town of Grasse. They were killed as part of a national plan to limit the number of wolves in France, where many farmers are angry at losing sheep to them.

Forty-one wolves have been killed under the scheme out of the planned total of 43 for this year.

Last month around 25 sheep and lambs were killed at a farm in the Provence region, which has suffered a total of around 300 wolf attacks since the start of the year.

Hunting wiped out the grey wolf in France during the 1930s and they only returned in 1992 via Italy — currently home to around 2,000 wolves — before spreading into Switzerland and Germany.

Currently there are less than 400 wolves in France.

For more on this story CLICK HERE.

Several people taken ill after exposure to pesticide in western France

Emergency workers were called in after several people were taken ill when they were exposed to the pesticide metam sodium in a village near the city of Angers.

Five locals and four pompiers – firefighters who also work as ambulance workers – were treated in the village of Mazé-Milon after they were exposed to the product that a farmer was spreading on his nearby fields.

The product he was using was identified as having the same molecular structure that a few days earlier caused dozens of people to fall ill in the village of Brain-sur-l’Authion, just a few kilometres from Mazé.

Authorities shut down a road near Mazé while the farmer took measures to stop the spread of the metam sodium, notably by watering the land it had been used on to stop it spreading in the air.

A French farmer sprays a glyphosate herbicide on his land. Photo: AFP

 
Paris suburb names street after heroic policeman Arnaud Beltrame

 

A street in the Paris suburb of Créteil is to be named after the heroic French policeman who was killed after he offered himself in exchange for a hostage in a jihadist siege at a supermarket in March this year.

The southeastern suburb of Créteil will on Sunday baptise a new pedestrian thoroughfare as the Avenue Beltrame.

Lieutenant-Colonel Arnaud Beltrame, 45, took the place of a woman who gunman Radouane Lakdim was holding hostage in the Super U store in the quiet southwest town of Trebes.

Lakdim, who claimed allegiance to the Islamic State group, shot and stabbed him, prompting a police raid that left the attacker dead. Beltrame later died from his wounds.

For more on this story CLICK HERE.

Paris zoo hails arrival of two snow leopard cubs

The mini-zoo in the Jardin des Plantes in Paris has welcomed the birth of two snow leopard cubs.

The cute cubs were actually born in August but the zoo has kept quiet about them until this week, when they started making their first forays around their enclosure.

Visitors are advised that late mornings and late afternoons are the best times to catch a glimpse of the pair of male cubs from the protect species.

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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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