Glance around France: Diesel now more expensive than petrol and snow tyres set to be obligatory in Alps

Our round-up of the stories from around France on Tuesday includes rising diesel prices, snow tyres becoming obligatory in the Alps and drivers in the east being fined for ogling a road accident.

Glance around France: Diesel now more expensive than petrol and snow tyres set to be obligatory in Alps
Photo: AFP

For the first time, diesel is more expensive than petrol 

Diesel used to be the cheaper fuel, but no longer. Around Paris, 60% of gas stations, diesel prices have overtaken petrol prices, and in one fifth of gas stations nation-wide, Le Parisien has reported.

This is a first, and is a result of tax measures. Higher taxes on diesel were introduced under the last presidency and taken on by Emmanuel Macron, who has vowed to bring the taxes on diesel in line with petrol taxes, which have historically been much higher.

In 2018, taxes on diesel will rise by 7 centimes and 4 centimes on petrol. This could mean a lot of unhappy drivers: 80% of cars in France run on diesel, according to Le Parisien.


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Drivers fined near Mulhouse for ogling at road accident

If you drive past a road accident in France (and the police are already dealing with it) don't slow down or you could get a fine!

That's what happened to 40 drivers on Wednesday near the town of Mulhouse in the eastern Haut-Rhin department.

The police decided to take action after dozens of drivers slowed down to look at an accident on the A36 motorway bewteen Colmar and Mulhouse, caused by a collision between a lorry and a van.

The police were so fed up trying to deal with the traffic and preventing other accidents from occuring, they decided to fine drivers, hoping it will dissuade them from slowing down in the future.

“We ended up making the area secure. We realised people were slowing down in both directions to take photos or film the accident with their mobile phones,” an exasperated policeman told France 3 Grand Est. Around 40 drivers where fined, and could end up paying up to 135 euros and lose 3 points on their driver's license.

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Corsica named France's 'champion of poverty'
It's not exactly the kind of title the Corsican authorities will be proud of. 
It seems poverty is gaining ground on France's 'Isle of Beauty', according to analysis revealed on the island's 'day of solidarity' which highlights the region's homelessness problem.
Corsica has a poverty rate of 19.8 percent, taking first place in terms of poverty levels in France ahead of Hauts de France and Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur.
In Corsica, most of those affected by poverty are under-30, with 28.9 percent of them touched by the issue, as well as people over 75, with 17.5 of them affected. 

Drought persists in the east

While the south west is experiencing one of its worst floods in decades, the east of France is suffering from the opposite problem.

The drought in the north east of France which started in the summer is only getting worse as rainfall continues to elude the area.  

The river levels in the worst affected departments of Marne and Ardennes are extremely low, with the moisture levels in the soil around the town of Rethel in Ardennes continuing to plummet.

In September the soil moisture flirted with the levels of 1976, the year of drought of reference in France, said Thiery Beaudenon from France's national weather agency Meteo France.

Without significant rainfall by November, experts fear there will be long-term consequences.

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Snow tyres soon set to be obligatory in France's mountains

A new measure set to be approved by French law is about to make snow tyres in France's mountainous areas obligatory.

46 departments including the Savoie and Haute-Savoie in the French alps could be affected by the new measure, which is set to enter into force next winter.

From then on, cars in these areas will have to have snow tyres from a fixed period ranging from November 1st to March 31 each year.

Other Europeans countries have already implemented similar measures over the winter months, including  Austria, Germany, Estonia and Finland.

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Authorities attract doctor with a year's free rent

As many parts of rural France face a dearth of doctors, some areas are coming up with new ways of attracting GPs.

In the Ardèche in south eastern  France, local authorities were so keen to recruit a GP they offered to pay successsful candidates a whole year's rent.

The offer paid off. 39-year-old doctor Anca Don from Romania will set up in the village of Andance in November and serve a number of villages in the area. One other job is still up for grabs, but the local authorities are optimistic they will be able to attract another doctor soon.

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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/
But while the map – created by – 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