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Glance around France: Uber to challenge Velib’ in Paris and dengue fever hits the south

Our round-up of the stories from around France on Thursday includes Uber setting up a rival to Velib' in Paris, an outbreak of dengue fever in the south and road deaths shooting up in September.

Glance around France: Uber to challenge Velib' in Paris and dengue fever hits the south
Photo: AFP
Uber to set up rival to Velib' in Paris
 
US ride hailing app Uber might have shaken up the taxi market in the French capital but now it has set its sights on a different challenge. 
 
From early 2019, the taxi app will be offering a bike hire service just like the pioneering 10-year-old Velib system which recently turned into a fiasco.
 
The service, introduced by Uber at a trade show on Thursday, will be called Jump and its bright red, electric bikes will no doubt prove hard to miss on the streets of the French capital. 
 
So far it is unclear exactly when the launch will happen and how many bikes will be available for hire. 
 
“The deployment will be progressive, but the goal will be to compete with other offers,” Uber said. 
 
Like other rival bike hire services in the capital, Uber's Jump bikes will be available to be picked up and dropped off anywhere in the city instead of using docking stations.
 
Customers will be able to book them on the Uber app. 
 
 
Road deaths shoot up in September 
 
The number of people killed on French roads shot up by 8.8 percent in September.
 
After a sharp drop in August (-15.5 percent) and July (-5.5 percent), the news of the increase will no doubt come as a blow to the French government which has made cutting road deaths one of its priorities. 
 
In September, 323 people were killed on France's roads – 26 more than were killed in the same month in 2017. 
 

 
 
Hunter shot dead during nighttime boar hunt 
 
A 50-year-old man who was taking part in a wild boar hunt in a forest near Bordeaux was killed Thursday night by a fellow hunter. 
 
The rescue services said the man who fired the shot mistook the hunter for game. 
 
Local police have opened an investigation. 

 

For more on this story CLICK HERE.

Outbreak of Dengue fever in southern France 
 
The regional health authority in the Alpes-Maritimes is asking the public to protect themselves from mosquito bites after four new cases of dengue fever were reported in the area. 
 
All five cases occurred in the town of Saint-Laurent-du-Var in the French Riviera and the health agency has described the situation as having a “limited risk of becoming an epidemic”.
 
Nevertheless it has asked people living in the area to be cautious. 
 
“Although the risk of an epidemic developing is, for now, considered limited, the authorities are fighting unwaveringly against mosquito-borne diseases,” the authorities said.
 
“Residents are encouraged to limit the spread of mosquitoes (including by emptying stagnant water sources where mosquitoes lay their eggs) and to protect themselves from stings.”
 
Symptoms of dengue fever typically begin three to fourteen days after infection and may include a high fever, headache, vomiting, muscle and joint pains, and a skin rash.
 

 
 
126 towns affected by floods in south west declared in 'a state of natural disaster'
 
A total of 126 towns in the south western Aude department, the worst affected by the floods this week, have been declared to be in a state of 'natural disaster'. 
 
The deadly floods killed 14 people and 75 were injured, according to reports in the French press.
 

 
 
Firefighters in Haute-Loire file unlimited strike notice
 
Firefighters in the south central department of Haute-Loire took the unusual step of filing an unlimited strike notice on Thursday morning, denouncing the unsustainable working conditions due to a lack of staff. 
 
Members of the SNSPP (National Union of Professional Firefighters) and the hard left CGT union joined forces to file the notice which means there is no set end date. 
 
“We have to do more, but the numbers do not change, we are in a tight state of flux,” Pascal Rizet from the CGT told the French press.
 

 

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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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