Seven good things that happened in France in 2020

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Seven good things that happened in France in 2020
Sophie Petronin hugs her son for the first time in four years. Photo: AFP

For most people, 2020 was not the greatest year, but some good things did actually happen. Here are seven positive bits of news from France this year.


1. Innovation in cancer treatments

World-leading robot technology developed in France has helped physicians operate on cancer patients. This summer two operations, one in Montpellier and another in Villejuif, succeeded in eliminating cancerous tumours in the liver in the first operations of this kind in the world.

This new robotic assistance, developed by French start-up Quantum Surgical, can treat without opening the skin in areas where heavy bleeding is frequent.

2. France doubled its paternity leave

In September, Emmanuel Macron announced that France would double its paternity leave from 14 to 28 days - a move bringing the country in line with progressive legislation elsewhere in Europe. The law comes into effect in July 2021.


READ ALSO These are the days off work you are entitled to in France



3. Advances in plastic recycling

France also leads in a different kind of technological innovation.

Carbios, the world-leader in bio recycling based near Clermont-Ferrand, has developed a revolutionary technology that will make recycling single-use plastics as easy as recycling glass. Considering the amount of disposable masks that have made their way into landfill this year, this is indeed something to celebrate.

The company is planning on building a factory capable of recycling 100,000 tonnes of PET plastic per year.

 4. Hostage release

The cries of “maman!” as Sébastien Chadaud was reunited with his 75 year-old mother, Sophie Petronin, warmed hearts around the world.

Petronin, a French aid-worker, had been in captivity in Mali for four years and was finally released in October. She was the last French citizen known to be held hostage anywhere in the world.


5. The cycling boom

When the first Covid-19 lockdown ended in May, French commuters adopted the bicycle en masse, with a 44 percent increase in cycling traffic compared to pre-confinement levels.

The French bicycle market recorded huge growth over the summer (sales doubled in May and June compared to the same months last year), causing would-be buyers to have to wait weeks for a brand new ride, as city dwellers looked for ways of avoiding crowded public transport. Several cities have created new cycle lanes, known as coronapistes, to accommodate new cyclists.


People cycling on dedicated cycle lanes on Rue de Rivoli in Paris. Photo: AFP

6. The return of the ‘bouquetin des Pyrénées’

The endangered ‘bouquetin des Pyrénées’ or Pyrenean ibex, has returned after the native species was completely wiped out over a century ago.

Officials counted a new generation of 70 long-horned wild goats that are now thriving in the Pyrenees national park.

7. Fairytale author back in print after centuries

A selection of stories by Madame d'Aulnoy, the 17th century French writer who coined the term conte de fées (fairytale), will be published in English for the first time in more than 300 years.

Unlike other authors like Charles Perrault, Hans Christian Andersen and the Brothers Grimm, her work has been largely ignored. Now Princeton University Press is preparing to release a collection of her works titled 'The Island of Happiness' in March 2021.



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