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Glance around France: Burgundy forest gives priority to hunters and a Bordeaux to London high-speed train?

Our round-up of the stories from around France on Wednesday includes the new death toll from the flooding in the south west , a mayor allowing only hunters in a forest in Burgundy and could there soon be a high-speed train between Bordeaux and London?

Glance around France: Burgundy forest gives priority to hunters and a Bordeaux to London high-speed train?
Photo: AFP
Death toll in French flooding hits 14
 
At least 14 people died and one remained missing after the storms and floods that battered southwest France earlier this week, local authorities said Wednesday, updating the toll.
   
The equivalent of three months rainfall was dumped overnight Sunday to Monday in the region of the fortress city of Carcassonne, bursting the banks of rivers, including the Aude, which reached levels not seen in 100 years.
   
The worst flooding took place in the medieval town of Trebes, where six people were killed by flash floods which overturned cars, gutted streets and swamped hundreds of homes, officials said.
   
Trebes had already made headlines in March when a jihadist went on the rampage, killing four people during a shooting spree and hostage-taking at a supermarket.
   
Five people were arrested after attempting to steal from a food truck abandoned near the town, authorities also said.
   
Water levels have since started falling along the Aude river and its tributaries, according to Vigicrues, the government agency responsible for monitoring flooding.
   
Some 700 firemen and civil defence personnel are involved in clean-up operations, and extra police and army personnel have been drafted to the area.
   
The storms were triggered when a front of warm and humid air from the Mediterranean Sea slammed into colder air around the Massif Central mountain range. 
 
A flooded street in the city of Trèbes, near Carcassone, southern France. Photo: AFP
 
Only hunters allowed in Burgundy forest until end of season
 
If you like the outdoors, you'd be wise to avoid the Is-sur-Tille forest in Burgundy… at least on Sundays.
 
Since October 14th joggers, cyclists and hikers have been prohibited from going into the forest on Sundays, with the ban set to remain in place until the end of the hunting season on February 28th. 
 
The order was issued by the mayor who says the move is all about keeping the public safe. 
 
The ban was made at the request of the Is-sur-Tille hunting association which has said it is more prudent that the access be reserved for hunters on Sundays because certain walkers are not prudent and not visible enough.
 
“We would not want there to be an accident,” the treasurer of the Is-sur-Tille hunting association Marc Leyoudec told the French press. 
 
 
 
Could there soon be a new high-speed TGV train between Bordeaux and London?
 
Fancy travelling from Bordeaux to London in just five hours?
 
Well, that could soon become a reality. 
 
The four infrastructure managers SNCF-Réseau, Eurotunnel, Lisea and HS1 signed an agreement on Wednesday to launch a feasibility study into a direct TGV  linking London St Pancras to the Girondine city.
 
And if the results are positive, the line could be up running as early as spring 2021.
 
The study will measure the necessary adaptations for the Bordeaux station to acquire a border security control terminal and estimate their cost. 
 
The trains would be 400 meters long and able to accommodate 900 passengers.
 
 
 
120 doctors resign from the same hospital in Brittany
 
No doubt it came as a bit of a shock to hospital management. 
 
In one fell swoop, the hospital in Saint-Brieuc lost a whopping 120 doctors as they quit their positions over disagreements with those in charge of running it.
 
Among their grievances were the fact that some employees had not had their fixed-term contracts renewed and a dispute over the construction of an outpatient centre. 
 
Unsurprisingly the situation marks “a first in the history of the hospital”.
 
 
Primark opens in Toulouse 
 
The popular Irish brand opened its doors in France's Pink City on Wednesday, with customers queuing up from 6 am to make they were among the first to see the new store. 
 
Several hundred people swept through the four levels of the 7500 m² store however some remained outside in order to protest the opening due to the company's “unethical practices”.
 

 
 
French government abandons plans for new road in central France
 
The French government had abandoned plans to build a new road between Lyon and Saint Etienne. 
 
The ministry of transport confirmed the decision to scrap the A45 motorway project in a meeting with local officials on Wednesday. 
 
Instead the money will be spent on existing highways and railways.
 

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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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