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POLITICS

Who’s who in French TV, newspapers and magazines

With a presidential election coming up in France, every news outlet will put its own spin on things. If you are an avid consumer of French news, it is worth understanding the traditions and political leanings of the various French media sources.

All media organisations have an editorial line. France is no different.
All media organisations have an editorial line. France is no different. Here is a political guide to the country's media. (Photo by Ludovic Marin / AFP)

All publications around the world have an alignment with a certain philosophy, ethos or political slant, and France is no exception. 

With a presidential election set to be held in April 2022, we take a look at some of the most popular French news organisations to help you understand the likely angles.

Newspapers 

  • Le Monde 

Widely considered France’s newspaper of record, Le Monde, is generally considered to be a centre-left publication – although it claims to be non-partisan. It truth, it is a very straight bat newspaper offering a rich variety of hard news, colourful reportage and socio-cultural critique. It regularly features expert voices from across the political spectrum. 

  • Le Figaro 

This is a pretty right-wing newspaper. It is the kind of publication that will run scare headlines about immigrants, based on polls conducted on its own readers. It has swayed slightly further towards the centre in recent years. It was a key public supporter of Nicolas Sarkozy during his tenure as president – and most Le Figaro readers today still vote for the centre-right Les Républicains party. 

  • Libération 

Co-founded by Jean-Paul Sartre in the wake of the 1968 student protests, it will come as no surprise to read that Libération, popularly known as Libé, is a newspaper on the left. Like Le Figaro, it too has moved closer to the centre in recent years. The newspaper is known for its investigations into abuses of power. Before the second round of the 2017 election, it urged readers to vote for Emmanuel Macron over Marine Le Pen to avoid a far-right president. 

  • Le canard enchainé 

This weekly newspaper, sometimes compared to the UK’s Private Eye, is highly influential in French politics. Journalists at Le canard enchainé (the chained duck) are excellent at securing leaks from people in high places. It is known for its investigations and it’s exposé helped cripple the presidential campaign of the LR candidate, François Fillon, in 2017. Everyone in the French political world keeps a close eye on this newspaper, which is offers a hive of inside knowledge and political gossip. Because it fearlessly exposes the establishment, some believe Le canard enchainé to be left-wing. But the paper has also exposed abuses of left-wing candidates in the past. 

  • Sud-Ouest 

This is a regional publication but is still consistently one of the most read newspapers in France and covers a lot of national and international news. Its motto is: “The facts are sacred, the commentary is free.” This newspaper reports a lot of hard news, without giving away its political leanings. It features guests editorials from most sides of the political debate.

  • La Croix

This newspaper has some outstanding international coverage and a pretty neutral tone when it comes to coverage of domestic politics in France. It is however, unashamedly Catholic and a significant portion is devoted to stories that have some link or other to Christianity. 

  • Le Parisien 

This is essentially a tabloid, without long opinionated diatribes. Le Parisien is factual, punchy and don’t seem lean one way or the other. It also offers a rich guide to goings on in the French capital alongside a strong national news coverage. It is lacking slightly however when it comes to international coverage. 

  • Les Échos

This is an aggressively free-market newspaper that mostly covers financial news. It self-describes as a liberal publication, arguing that to believe in the supremacy of markets is not an ideology. This is a good newspaper to turn to if you are interested in finance, tax reforms, privatisation and macroeconomics.

Magazines/websites 

  • Valeurs actuelles 

“The right-wing magazine that admits it” – the slogan of Valeurs actuelles tells you everything you need to know. It is economically liberal and socially conservative. It has been accused of racism, islamophobia, sexism and antisemitism. Even Le Figaro has described it as “extreme”. Last year, the magazine published an open letter signed by former military servicemen warning of a future civil war and calling for people to rise up “against the hordes from the banlieues”. 

  • Marianne 

This loosely left-wing magazine is published weekly. Circulation has plummeted in recent years and the publication has tried to shock audience with unexpected, provocative right-wing titles, seemingly designed to incense their audience, like “Why does the left see fascists everywhere?”; “Divisions and arguments: The crazy Left”; and “In France, do we have the most stupid Left in the world?” 

  • Médiapart 

These guys are the big hitters of French investigative journalism and lean slightly to the left. It has a long track record of exposing abuses of power committed by the country’s economic and political elite – stretching all the way up to former president, Nicolas Sarkozy. Médiapart is only available online. 

  • Charlie Hebdo 

This satirical magazine publishes incredibly offensive cartoons. But that is the point – it is non-conformist, radical and chaotic. Sadly, this publication is best known for being the target of a 2015 terror attack, in which 12 people were killed. It is not somewhere to go for serious news, but has certainly made a name for itself. 

  • Paris Match 

This is a weekly news magazine, with a heavy sprinkling of celebrity gossip and photos, it’s often compared to Hello magazine. It leans to the right and is often the place where conservative candidates go for fawning profiles in the run-up to an election. 

News broadcasters 

  • BFMTV 

This is the most watched French news channel and is seen as being right-leaning. Critics accuse BFMTV of acting as a government mouthpiece. If you see their news crews on the ground, it is not uncommon to hear a crowd of people shouting “BFM collabo, BFM collabo”. While its 24 hour coverage can be repetitive and slightly tabloid, the BFMTV newsroom has clearly cultivated strong sources and is often the first French news broadcaster to break major stories. 

  • Franceinfo 

This publicly funded TV and radio broadcaster is reliable and doesn’t tend to spin the news politically. While it doesn’t get to the news as fast as BFM, it is more interesting visually and carries a wider variety of stories – not focused solely on issues of government, crime and immigration and it good at providing detailed breakdowns of new announcements, laws or rules.

  • CNews 

Often compared to Fox News, this is brazenly conservative, anti-immigrant and pro-business. It is also the channel on which Éric Zemmour, a far-right presidential hopeful, made his name as a prime time polemicist. CNews is owned by the French billionaire, Vincent Bolloré, who also part owns radio station Europe 1, newspaper Le Journal de Dimanche, and Paris Match magazine. 

  • TF1 and France 2

These are not 24-hour news channels but do broadcast popular nightly news programmes. TF1 is privately owned and has incredibly glossy, high-production news coverage. It is sometimes accused of having a right-wing bias but not everyone agrees on this. It’s 20H slot is the place to find ministers explaining the government’s latest announcements and decisions.

France 2 is a publicly-owned channel with a strong pedigree of investigative reports – it is pretty difficult to discern any political leanings one way or the other with this broadcaster. 

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FRANCE EXPLAINED

Rail strikes, summer drinks and avoiding ticks: Six essential articles for life in France

From how to avoid that pesky, disease-carrying insect to the tastiest, most refreshing beverages in France and whether you can plan on a summer of delays and cancellations on train lines, here are the six essential articles for life in France.

Rail strikes, summer drinks and avoiding ticks: Six essential articles for life in France

Many of us are feeling the call to evacuate the cities and head for the great outdoors as the warmer weather and sunshine take hold across France. If you’re off on a hiking trip or simply taking your pet for a walk in an area with high grass, you might be wondering about the chances of being bitten by a tick. Unfortunately, these pesky insects can be found across France, though they are more common in certain areas.

If you do find yourself in a particularly tick-friendly environment and you’re wondering how to protect yourself, or you’re simply wondering which parts of France are tick hotspots, we’ve put together a guide for avoiding these tiny insects while in France.

What you should know about ticks in France and how to avoid them

While France is known for being a global gastronomy capital, sometimes a delicious beverage is just as important as a hearty meal.

Thankfully, France has a wide range of refreshing drinks to try, and these warm weather specific beverages are sure to quench your thirst whether you’re sitting on a terrace or along the beach.  

If you find yourself hosting pre-dinner drinks in the coming weeks, you’ll want to consult our list of the best things to drink in France this summer. There are options for everyone, for those looking for alcoholic beverages and non-drinkers alike.

Rosé, spritz and pressé: 5 things to drink in France this summer

Strikes are an undeniable part of French cultural identity. But will this summer be worse than average when it comes to industrial action? After over two years of pandemic shutdowns and layoffs, and amid rising inflation, workers are demanding higher wages. SNCF (France’s national rail service) saw its workers stage a one-day walk out in early July, causing widespread delays and cancellations.

So how much of a headache will travel during the first summer without strict Covid-19 related restrictions be? We’ve tried to look ahead to try to give you an idea of what to expect from rail strikes this summer in France, and whether they’re likely to rumble on.

Will rail strikes in France rumble on throughout the summer? 

Regardless of whether you’re looking to stun with your next Bugatti or simply seeking out a trustworthy Peugeot, buying a car in France as a foreigner might feel confusing, particularly if you do not hold a French driver’s licence.

Living in France involves a lot of paperwork, and so do procedures for buying and selling cars here. However, you might be pleasantly surprised that the process is more straightforward than you might have thought.  

Complete with the list of documents you need to provide, this article will help speed along your process toward your next vehicle.

Reader question: Can I buy or sell a car in France if I have a foreign driving licence?

On the topic of driving, you might be considering heading off to your summer holidays by car this year. With the school year finished, families across France are hitting the roads to make their way to la campagne for some much needed R&R.

Each year, France’s traffic watchdog, Bison Futé, keeps us informed of what to expect in terms of road congestion, offering four different levels of traffic intensity to help you decide whether to pack that extra snack and book for the long ride. 

When – and where – to avoid driving on France’s roads this summer

If you have a television in your living room, you might be able to look forward to saving €138 this upcoming year. The French government recently announced plans to scrap the TV licence, but if you’ve wondered what that money actually goes to and why it might be done away with, you’re not alone.

The TV licence actually raises over €3.7 billion a year for national public broadcasting, so the decision to get rid of it has not been met with applause from everyone. We’ve explained exactly what your €138 had been going towards, and answered your question of how public media in France might end up being funded in the future without the TV licence to help

EXPLAINED: What France’s TV licence pays for and what might replace it?

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