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Glance around France: US banking giant to invest $30 million in deprived Paris suburbs

Our round-up of stories from around France this Wednesday includes a US banking giant investing $30 million in deprived Paris suburbs, award nominations in Dijon and volunteers being attacked in Cannes.

Glance around France: US banking giant to invest $30 million in deprived Paris suburbs
Saint Denis is one of the impoverished areas outside Paris set to benefit from a $30 million fund from JP Morgan. Photo: Myrabella/Wikicommons
JP Morgan to invest $30 million in impoverished areas around Paris
 
JP Morgan, the biggest US bank by assets, has said that it has selected impoverished areas around Paris as the first foreign focus of an urban economic development strategy it started four years ago in Detroit, according to a report in Reuters
 
The report said that the bank will contribute $30 million over five years to programs to teach job skills and expand small businesses in Saint Denis and other places with high unemployment and poverty, JPMorgan said in a statement provided to Reuters.
 
Located north of Paris, Saint Denis has the highest poverty and crime rates in France. Dotted with large social housing projects, the area is separated from wealthy Paris only by an extremely congested highway circling the city. The area was in the center of the riots that devastated suburbs all over France a decade ago.
 
 
Dijon nominated for World Smart City Award
 
The city of Dijon’s ‘On Dijon’ project has made it on to the shortlist for the World Smart City Award.
 
One of seven global finalists, ‘On Dijon’ will connect services such as road signs, street lighting and transport into one online network.
 
The project also features an app which the city’s inhabitants can use to instantly report issues that might affect the network such as road accidents, signal failures, rubbish pile-ups and broken street lamps.
 
The winner of the World Smart City Award will be announces at the Smart City Expo World Congress on November 14th in Barcelona.
 
 
 
Homeless people attack volunteers in Cannes
 
Volunteers from the humanitarian emergency services SamuSocial were insulted and had their vehicles tagged as they were delivering food and drink to the homeless in Cannes.
 
Their attackers were the homeless themselves, who were dissatisfied with being given dehydrated coffee and cold sandwiches and pastries instead of hot food.
 
Volunteers claim that the homeless could have gone to a night shelter for hot food and have reported the incident to the police.
 
 
 
Violent Paris Saint-Germain supporters jailed in Troyes
 
A total of 13 PSG supporters known as the ‘K-Soce Team’ have been found guilty of violent affray following clashes with Ligue 1 rivals Reims, which occurred in a bar in April 2016.
 
Sentences for the guilty football fans vary from 6 month suspended terms to 10 months in jail, but all have been fined 500 euros and been banned from entering the Aube department in north eastern France for two years. 
 
Paris looks into cleaning up dirty Metro air 
 
No doubt there will be some relieved commuters out there. 
 
The French capital is on the hunt for ways of purifying the air in its underground Metro and RER stations. 
 
Several experiments have been launched to find a suitable solution to the air problem which will be carried out by five companies. 
 
Each of these companies will test a different technique and AirParif, the air quality monitoring association in the greater Paris region of Ile-de-France, will evaluate them at the end of 2019, with the hope of finding a solution for the entire network.
 
And they certainly need to. 
 
According to a report that came out in 2017 the air quality on the Paris Metro is ten times worse than in the streets above.
 

 
 
 

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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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