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Glance around France: Winter weather leads to road closures in the Alps and sniffer dogs arrive in Nice

Our round-up of the stories from around France on Friday includes road closures in the Alps due to threat of icy weather and sniffer dogs arrive in Nice.

Glance around France: Winter weather leads to road closures in the Alps and sniffer dogs arrive in Nice
Photo: AFP
Alpine roads to close this weekend as icy weather expected
 
With temperatures forecast to drop drastically all over France this weekend, local authorities in the Savoie in the Alps have decided to close several roads leading to some of the mountains highest passes called the cols de Maurienne.
 
The closure affects the following passes:  the Galibier, the Iseran, the Madeleine, the Croix de fer et the Glandon. 
 
These closures are a preventative measure, and the roads could open again next week if the weather permits. Every year, the cols de Maurienne close for the winter at the start of November.
 
For more on this story, click here.

 
Police arrested a man who drove a car to the driving centre to sit his test
 
An 18-year-old man was arrested in Marseille this week for arriving at a centre to take his driving test… at the wheel of a car. 
 
This was obviously illegal as he didn't yet have his drivers licence. 
 
The young man, who was just showing off in front of his friends, according to Ouest France, was driven away in a police car shortly after he got there. He faces a one-year prison sentence, a 15,000-euro fine and potentially a five-year-ban from sitting his test.
 
To read more about this story, click here.
 
 
Police in Nice bring in sniffer-dogs to patrol the streets
 
Police in Nice are testing a new way to deter bad behaviour in some of the southern city's seedier districts.
 
They've brought in dogs to help reassure its inhabitants, with the hope that the animals will also put some order back in some parts of the city.
 
“These sniffing-dogs are a physical presence. That's important because there are drug dealers and fights outside nightclubs here,” local shopkeepers told 20minutes.
 
The dogs will be tested for a month, and possibly longer if their presence is effective.
 
To read more about this story, click here.
 
 
 
Unemployment in Brittany is on the rise
 
The number of unemployed people in Brittany has increased by 0.8%, the latest figures show. Unemployment in France overall has risen by 0.5%.
 
In total, this means 146,170 people in the area have not found any work at all in the last three months.
 
Unemployment in Brittany particularly affects men of all ages. Regarding women however, fewer of them under the age of 25 and over 50 are out of work, francebleu reported.
 
To read more about this story, click here.
 
Wild boar strolls onto road bridge
 
Police in Brest issued a warning Friday about an intruder on the northern port's main entrance bridge.
 
A wild boar was seen strolling across the pont de l'Iroise shortly before 11am. The authorities urged drivers to be careful until the animal wandered quietly away.

To read more about this story, click here.
 

 

 

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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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