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POLITICS

Macron told ‘let Josephine Baker be buried in Paris Panthéon’

Cabaret singer, Resistance heroine and civil rights activist Josephine Baker should be awarded France's highest honour and be buried in the Panthéon - that's the demand of a petition to president Emmanuel Macron on the subject of the American star.

Macron told 'let Josephine Baker be buried in Paris Panthéon'
Cabaret star Josephine Baker. Photo: AFP

The online petition has now gathered 50,000 signatures and local authorities in Paris have also backed the move to have the black star re-interred in the Panthéon along with the most famous names in French history.

The petition was started by essayist Laurent Kupferman and has received backing from French celebrities including former culture minister Jack Lang, TV presenter Stephane Bern and actress Line Renaud.

Kupferman said: “Josephine Baker was a free and committed woman, a feminist, a resistance fighter, and a committed activist against racism and anti-Semitism. In a world turned in on itself where division and racism are exacerbated, her struggle finds a natural resonance today.”  

Born in the USA, Baker moved to Paris in the 1930s where she quickly became famous for her risqué cabaret acts, which famously included dancing in nothing but a skirt made of bananas.

Her signature banana skirt continues to inspire cabaret acts. Photo by FRANCOIS GUILLOT / AFP

Fleeing racism and segregation in America, Baker became a devotee of France, later marrying a Frenchman and taking French citizenship.

When war broke out in 1939 she remained in France and became a member of the Resistance, using her fame to extract valuable information from military leaders.

After the war she became involved in civil rights battles in the USA and Europe and adopted 12 children.

She died in Paris in 1975, but was buried in Monaco, where she was living in her final years.

The idea of having her body moved to the Panthéon was first put forward in 2013 under François Hollande’s government but was not approved.

Now supporters hope she can be given this final honour, which would make her only the sixth woman buried in the Panthéon.

Entry to the Panthéon is France’s highest posthumous honour, extended to those who have performed a great service to the country.

The final decision lies with the president, although in recent years there have been public votes on deserving candidates.

Earlier this year, Macron rejected a call to move poet Arthur Rimbaud to the Panthéon, saying he did not want to go against the wishes of Rimbaud’s family. Supporters had called for the poet to be moved to the Pathéon and buried next to his lover Paul Verlaine.

However in 2020 he presided over a ceremony to inter writer and World War II hero Maurice Genevoix in the Paris monument. 

You can sign the Josephine Baker petition here.

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PARIS

Paris public transport ticket prices set to rise in 2023

Public transport users in the Paris region may be facing higher prices for tickets and travel passes in the new year, as the region's transport network attempts to meet €950 million in additional costs for 2023.

Paris public transport ticket prices set to rise in 2023

Grappling with rising costs, local authorities for the Paris region are considering raising the price of tickets and the monthly Navigo pass for the capital’s public transport system.

These new fares would come into effect on January 1st, 2023 – although local authorities still have to approve the price rises, which will be put to the vote on December 7th, and the government may yet step in to shield commuters from the sharpest increases. 

According to information leaked to French media, the cost of a single ticket – currently set at €1.90 – could go up by 21 percent – reaching €2.30 in the new year. Paris runs an integrated public transport system which means that tickets can be used on the Metro, tram, bus or RER train services. 

Fans of the 10-ticket carnet could see prices go up to €20.30, a rise from €16.90 for paper ticket purchasers and from €14.90 for mobile phone app and Navigo easy users.

As for the Navigo pass – the monthly rail card – which will be the focus of daily transport users in the Ile-de-France, the region’s President Valérie Pécresse warned that it could jump from the current €75.20 per month to €90. 

Other travel passes are also predicted to see a rise – the weekly Navigo semaine from €22.80 to €31, and the Navigo annual from €827.20 to €990.

READ MORE: Food, fuel and transport: Which prices will rise in France in 2023?

The transport system is considering price rises because it faces €950 million in additional costs for 2023, as a result of energy rates rising and the fact that the transport system will begin owing payments to the French government on their “Covid loans” in the year 2023. 

While the increase in single ride fares to €2.30 could bring in an additional €500 million, the region’s transport operators would still be short by €450 million.

Possible outcomes

In order to avoid sharp increases to fares for passengers, there are three possible solutions that have been put forward by President of the Region, Valérie Pecresse. 

The first option would be a sort of fare shield. This would keep the price of a Navigo pass at €75.20 by relying on the State for various aids, such as transforming the region’s “Covid loans” of €2 billion into a subsidy, spreading out repayments between 2023 and 2036, and lowering the Value Added Tax (VAT) from 10 percent to 5.5 percent, which would bring in €150 million per year. So far these proposals have not been met with support.

The second possible solution would be a uniform increase of 7.5 percent from all contributing parties to the transport system, Île de France Mobilités (IDFM).

Currently, the IDFM is financed in 12 percent by the region, 38 percent by passengers, and 50 percent by contributions from private companies. If a 7.5 percent increase was applied across the board, the impact on passengers would be an increase in the Navigo pass to €80.80 euros per month.

And the third possibility, one that has been championed by Pécresse, would be to increase the contribution of companies in Paris and the inner suburbs to the ‘Mobility’ fund. However, this would have to be done by an amendment to the French government’s Finance Bill, and as of late November, parliament stood opposed to tax increases on these companies.

Without any of these solutions taking place, Pécresse has warned that users would have to withstand a 20 percent price increase, meaning a monthly Navigo pass costing between €90 to €100.

Pécresse has called this possibility “socially unbearable” and “anti-environmental.”

The Minister of Transport, Clément Beaune, told RMC on Monday that the ministry will to “everything to avoid an increase to the Navigo pass,” adding that discussions were still underway.

Meanwhile, the government spokesman, Olivier Véran, told France Inter that the government plans to “identify ways and means to avoid an increase as significant as that which has been cited” in discussions with the region.

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