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From Toulouse to Albi: Ten things the EU has done for south west France

To paraphrase Monty Python, what has the EU ever done for us? Well, quite a lot actually. Here are just a few examples in south west France.

From Toulouse to Albi: Ten things the EU has done for south west France

Presumably with an eye on the forthcoming European elections, the EU had published a guide to exactly what it does and where its funding goes – and there are some surprising entries from south west France.

The My Region section of the EU's new What Europe Does for Me site, created by the  European Parliamentary Research Service, allows people to search their home region to see how it has benefited from EU funds or investment.


We took a look at the south west of France to see how it benefits from EU funds.

Transport – Toulouse's railway network recently underwent a major restoration. Of the €14 million needed to fund the project almost half – €6 million – came from the EU. In the Greater Angoulême region, transport is benefiting from EU grants for a new fleet of hybrid buses.

French beekeepers have been helped by the EU. Photo: AFP

Beekeepers – A south west France honey project has been the beneficiary of EU subsidies totalling €9,350. Set up in the 1960s, the  Miellerie des Sept Molles has a network of 700 beehives across the south of France. It produces and packages around 10 tonnes of honey a year, selling it direct to consumers.

Shopping – The picturesque Languedoc town of Albi saw a new shopping centre built in 2017, half funded by the EU. The centre in the Cantepau district received €900,000 for the EU (50 percent of the total cost) so that new retailers could be offered discounted rates on rent. 

Education – The EU is a major funder of education with many colleges and universities in the ares receiving funding for studies or projects. In the town of Castres the EU has provided €1.28 million (40 percent of he total cost) for a new campus for the town's high school. The new campus for the Collège de Bord Basse opened in 2018 and includes a library, collaborative work spaces, and areas dedicated to student life and relaxation for the roughly 900 students.

The town of Albi now has a new shopping centre. Photo: AFP

Safety – The Gard département is prone to heat waves in the summer, and between 2000 and 2018, almost 4,000 hectares of forest went up in smoke. The EU has put more than €1 million towards the Pyrosudoe project. The purpose of the project is to reduce the threat of fires for populations and infrastructure by improving fire prevention and managing forests and habitats at risk by establishing a knowledge-sharing network made up of French, Spanish and Portuguese partners.

Industry – The EU provided an advance of €5 million to MKAD which allowed the company to open a plant in  Varilhes in the Ariège region making titanium parts for the aerospace industry. The factory now employs 60 people.

A woman visits Bordeaux's Cité du Vin museum, partly funded by the EU. Photo: AFP

Tourism – Bordeaux's Cité du Vin, a vast cultural centre which traces the history of wine down the ages and in many different cultures and civilisations, in 2016. The EU contributed €12 million to this project, which combines the cultural and the commercial and created 250 jobs. More than 400,000 visitors, both tourists and locals, visited the Cité du Vin in its first year of operation.

Perpignan's Rigaud Museum has undergone a major refurbishment; to which the EU contributed €2 million, one third of the budget. The museum now hopes to increase its annual visitor numbers from 9,000 to 60,000.

Social projects – There was no specific support of any kind for people with mental disabilities in Lot-et-Garonne until a branch of the association ‘ARI Insertion’ was set up in 2006 in the department. The EU and France’s Association Gestionnaire des Fonds pour l’Insertion des Personnes Handicapées each provided 50 percent of the funds needed. More than 100 people have now found jobs thanks to ARI Insertion, some of them in long-term posts.

These are just some examples of the many EU funded projects in the region. To find out about investment in your area, click here and then select your département.

Member comments

  1. Ten things that the EU has done for south west France…with our own money. What about a list of 10 things the French government has done for the south east…again with our own money. “Organisation is capable of spending other people’s money” Brilliant!

  2. Last time I visited, Albi was the capital of the Tarn. That aside, does the EU really need to subsidise shopping???

  3. Nothing comes from the EU , just boomerang money from the taxpayers coming back to them via the EU and after the EU bureaucrats have taken their cut.

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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