Glance around France: Halloween ‘damage control’ in Brittany and more storms in the south

In today's round-up of news stories from around France we look at how one Breton department is taking precautions against some ghoulish Halloween antics, southern France braces itself for yet more storms and the pickpockets who made off with a small fortune (but not for long).

Glance around France: Halloween 'damage control' in Brittany and more storms in the south
Photo: AFP

Pickpockets steal €7,000 from Japanese tourists outside Paris

Four pickpockets managed to get their hands on what was probably the haul of their lives (albeit briefly) when they stole a whopping €7,000 from Japanese tourists in the department of Yvelines to the west of Paris. 
The incident took place at around midnight in the town of Velizy on Tuesday, with the thieves quickly fleeing from the scene leaving the victims stunned, according to reports in the French press. 
However it seems the tourists quickly came to their senses, filing a detailed report with the police that led to the pickpockets being quickly arrested and some of the money being found just a couple of hours later. 
Southern France on alert for storms and flooding
It's been a big week for weather in France so far what with the early winter chill bringing snow to some parts of the country, as well as storms and high winds elsewhere. 
And it isn't over yet. 
Five departments in southern France have been placed on orange alert — the second highest warning — for storms and floods by France's national weather agency Meteo France. 
These are Var, Aveyron, Lozère, Gard and Hérault were placed in orange alert by Météo France, for heavy rains.
Orange alert indicates that people in these areas should remain vigilant due to the risk of dangerous weather. 

Sale of alcohol, fuel and fireworks banned in parts of Brittany… all because of Halloween 
Local authorities in one Breton department have taken some serious precautions this Halloween. 
The capital of Brittany Rennes, and the department in which it sits Ille-et-Vilaine, has banned the sale of alcohol, fuel and fireworks as a result of the overenthusiastic Halloween celebrations seen in 2016 and 2017. 
So much damage was caused during in those years by “bands of young people”, including cars being set on fire and bus shelters being destroyed, that the authorities have issued the public order in a bid to stop the same thing happening again. 
The order will be in place across the while of the department from Halloween itself, October 31st, and November 2nd. 


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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