Seven people die in series of accidents in the French Alps over holiday weekend

Seven people, including two paragliders, died in a series of accidents in the French Alps as the country celebrated its Bastille Day holiday, rescue services said on Wednesday.

Seven people die in series of accidents in the French Alps over holiday weekend
Illustration photo: AFP

The bodies of a 40-year-old Dutch man and a 30-year-old French woman were found Tuesday afternoon near the Chapelle de la Gliere, a rocky ridge in the Chamonix valley, not far from the Mont Blanc.

The climbers plunged from the rocky face of the popular mountaineering route, though the cause of the accident was not immediately clear, authorities said.

Also on Tuesday, a 71-year-old hiker was killed after falling near the summit of the Mont de Grange, in the French Alps near the Swiss border.

Rescue services said the bodies of two Italian climbers were spotted by helicopter on Wednesday at the foot of the Mont Maudit, one of several peaks that emerge from the Mont Blanc chain, which forms the border with Italy.

The experienced climbers, aged 66 and 67, had travelled from Genoa to scale the summit from its Italian side, and were descending on the French side when the accident occurred.

“It was quite cloudy along the chain. They fell on the north face for an unknown reason and dropped at least 300 metres,” Lieutenant Colonel Stephane Bozon, head of the Chamonix mountain police, told AFP.

On Tuesday evening, two 48-year-old men were killed when their paraglider crashed while flying over the village of La Chapelle-d'Abondance, just south of Lake Geneva.

The two victims, a guide and his client, plunged when the wings of the paraglider suddenly collapsed, causing it to plunge onto the roof of a house.

Waves of climbers and tourists head to the picturesque peaks of the French Alps each summer, prompting warnings from officials that the challenging routes should not be underestimated.

Last week, authorities reported the first death of the season on the Mont Blanc, Europe's highest peak, which attracts nearly 25,000 climbers every year.    

The 65-year-old man was making his descent when he unhooked himself from his partner's rope thinking the terrain was less risky, but slipped on a patch of snow and fell 500 metres, rescue services said.


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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