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Wolf spotted on the Dordogne-Charente border in southern France

A wolf has been spotted near the border between Charente and Dordogne - an area where it had been thought wolves were extinct.

Wolf spotted on the Dordogne-Charente border in southern France
A grey wolf - the species spotted in Charente. Photo: AFP

The grey wolf sighting has now been confirmed by France's biodiversity office l'Office français de la biodiversité – which marks the first confirmed wolf presence in Charente since 1926.

The wolf was spotted and photographed in the commune of Gurat, on the border between Charente and Dordogne, by 28-year-old local woman Marina Varraniac-François on Monday morning, as she returned from dropping his son off with his childminder.

READ ALSO MAP: Where in France do wolves live

“He passed within two or three metres of the car,” she told Le Parisien.
 
“At first I thought it was a big dog, but it looked a lot like a wolf. He was scared, you could tell he was scared.”
 
She photographed and filmed the animal on her phone, and the sighting has now been confirmed by the OFB, which monitors wolf activity in France.
 
 
 
Wolves are relatively common in France, but they tend to stick to higher ground and are concentrated in the east of the country, particularly in the Alps.
 
The last time there was a confirmed wolf presence in Charente was in 1926, when local newspaper Charente Libre reported that one had killed 11 sheep.
 
“The species is known for its great dispersal capacity, especially during the territory search phase. Thus, since its reappearance in the Southern Alps in 1992, the wolf has crossed territories as far away as the Pyrenees, Lorraine, Burgundy and the Somme”, said a spokesman for the OFB.
 
Once hunted to extinction, wolves were reintroduced to France in 1992 and since then have steadily expanded their territory.
 
Their numbers are tightly controlled, with the French state licensing hunting of a certain number per year to keep the population in check.
 
Nevertheless, their presence in France is the subject of fairly regular protests from farmers, who say they damage their livelihoods. 
 
 
 

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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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