Glance around France: Normandy mayors cry for help over coastal erosion

In today's round-up of news stories from around France we look at Normandy mayors calling for financial aid from the government over coastal erosion, a rise in fuel thefts and furious paramedics carry out road blocks outside Paris.

Glance around France: Normandy mayors cry for help over coastal erosion
Photo: AFP

Normandy mayors appeal to government for help with coastal erosion

Coastal erosion is really taking its toll in the northern French region of Normandy. 
In just a few months the beaches in the coastal towns of Bricqueville-sur-Mer and Bréhal have seen the coastline eroded by three to four metres, according to reports in the French press. 
As a result, mayors in the region say homes are at risk and it's time the government started coughing up some cash to help local authorities solve the problem. 
Mayor of Bricqueville-sur-Mer Hervé Bougon told the French press that the local authorities are forced to take expensive emergency measures while the government says it can cover between 60 and 80 percent of the cost. 
However Bougon says that this isn't good enough. 
“Getting sand back onto the beach costs €50,000,” he said. “Everyone knows that our municipal budgets don't allow us to finance the rest.”
This leaves with him with no choice but to strengthen the sand dunes that remain without replacing the sand, he argues. 
“Why should it be up to the taxpayers of our small communities to pay to protect what is national territory?”
And Bougon is not alone in his views, with more than 30 other communes in Normandy seeking emergency funding from the government to help protect their areas from similar problems. 

Rise in fuel thefts across France 
This may not come as surprising news for those of you who have been following the fallout from the rising cost of fuel in France
The number of fuel thefts recorded by authorities since the beginning of the year is on the rise. 
A total of nearly 10,000 fuel thefts have been recorded since January in France, with truck drivers, construction companies and farmers among the victims. 
And with motorists becoming increasingly angry at the rising costs, the thefts are proving to be very lucrative. 

Furious paramedics block roads outside Paris
There was traffic chaos outside the French capital early on Tuesday morning. 
The reason was down to a go-slow operation, which affected the inner ring road between Porte de Bercy and Quai d'Ivry, carried out by angry paramedics. 
The source of their anger was a recently introduced health transport financing reform which they fear will mean they have to cut costs.


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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