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MAP: The parts of France with more cows, sheep or pigs than people

France is known as an agricultural nation - but just how agricultural has been revealed in a series of maps.

MAP: The parts of France with more cows, sheep or pigs than people
Cows at the 58th Salon de l'Agriculture in Paris earlier this year. (Photo: Ludovic Marin / AFP)

Data journalist and map aficionado Jules Grandin – some of you may recognise him from TMC’s Quotidien show – published a thread of maps on Twitter showing the départements with more farm animals than residents.

“It may seem irrelevant, but it tells us two things: a certain rurality and a form of geographical specialisation of breeding in France,” he told Huffington Post.

It also explains why farming and farmers are so important to politicians – especially in an election year.

ANALYSIS Is France self-sufficient for food?

One of the maps – based on figures from 2019 – shows that there are more cattle than inhabitants in départements in the centre of France (Nièvre, Allier, Creuse, Corrèze) and the north-west (Manche, Orne , Mayenne) and in the northeast (Meuse, Marne). 

According to figures on which the maps are based, there were nearly 744,000 cattle in Manche, which was home to 492,627 people in 2019.

The north-west of the country – Finistère, Côtes-d’Armor, Morbihan, Ille-et-Villaine and Mayenne – is very definitely pig country, the maps prove – unsurprisingly. Pig-farming is big business in Brittany where there were, in 2019, more than twice the number of pigs to people. 

Insee figures showed that Finistère counted 2,735,000 pigs, and a human population of 905,238.

For sheep, Lot, Aveyron, Lozère, Hautes-Alpes and Alpes-de-Haute-Provence have more sheep than inhabitants. 

Meanwhile, goats are severely under-represented in France. In no départment do they outnumber humans, according to the figures…

France is about 2.3 times bigger than the United Kingdom, but its population, 67.8 million according to national statistics body Insee, is broadly the same as the UK. While France obviously has areas of high population density such as Paris and Marseille, there’s also a lot of relatively empty space, especially in the centre.

But not as empty as the US state of Texas, which is slightly larger than France but has less than half the number of people at 29 million.

And the figures on which the maps were put together – they’re available here.

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Sun, sea and mountains: Where France’s politicians go on holiday

After an unusually late session that continued into August, the French parliament has now paused for the summer holidays - and the government is heading for the beach, the mountains and the islands. Here's where the great and the good of France (well, the politicians anyway) take their holidays.

Sun, sea and mountains: Where France's politicians go on holiday

French President Emmanuel Macron was the first to depart Paris for the vacation, and has been photographed this week kayaking in the seas off the French Riviera.

He’s at the Presidential hideaway at Fort de Brégançon for a three-week stay – although he says it is a pause estival studieuse (summer study break) rather than a holiday. He will take part in commemorations of the Allied invasion of Provence on August 15th.

In his absence the government continued working, passing the final cost-of-living bill through parliament, but ministers are now free until the next cabinet meeting – in the diary for August 24th. 

Ministers must take their breaks at “a destination compatible with the exercise of their responsibilities”, within a two-hour flight from Paris in case their urgent presence is required.

In practice, this largely means staying in France, which anyway is pretty common for most normal French families over the summer.

So where should you go if you want to spot a French minister? Or conversely, where will you be able to avoid bumping into a member of government?

If you’re allergic to politicians, we would suggest avoiding the Mediterranean coast

Prime minister Elisabeth Borne will head to the Var département, in the south east, for her holiday.

Also along south coast will be Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin and Transport Minister Clément Beaune, who are both expected to spend their vacation time in Bouches-du-Rhône (although there’s no suggestion that they will be holidaying together).

Meanwhile Justice Minister Eric Dupond-Moretti will head for Alpes-Maritimes (Nice and the surrounding area) and Minister for Territorial Organisation and Health Professions minister Agnès Firmin Le Bodo will holiday in Vaucluse.

Just over the sea is the island of Corsica, which is also popular with government ministers.

Franck Riester, burdened with the title Minister Delegate for Relations with Parliament and Democratic Life, will be heading there, along with his colleagues Catherine Colonna (Europe Minister) and Public Accounts Minister Gabriel Attal.

Again, we should point out that these are separate holidays on the same island, there’s no suggestion that the three will be sharing a villa and rubbing suncream onto each other’s backs. 

France’s northern coastline of Brittany and Normandy has long been popular with holidaymakers and government ministers are no exception.

Education Minister Pap Ndiaye and Armed Forces Minister Sébastien Lecornu will both head for Normandy for their vacations.

Culture Minister Rima Abdul Malak is heading in the same direction – and will spend a few days Saint-Brieuc, Côtes-d’Armor, before heading for the Chartreuse massif, in the south-east of the country.

Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire is expected to start his holiday period with a week in Brittany, before heading down to the Basque Country in the far south-west of France. He owns a second-home in the Basque Country, which was recently targeted by protesters worried about the effect that the large numbers of maisons secondaires are having on the local economy.

And finally there are those ministers who quit Paris and head back to the regions where they grew up.

Minister for People with Disabilities Geneviève Darrieussecq will head home to the Landes département in south west France.

Health Minister François Braun will holiday in the Alps, while Environment Minister Christophe Béchu will head back to his roots in Maine-et-Loire. Agriculture Minister Marc Fesneau, too, is holidaying at home in Loir-et-Cher.

Because of the unusually late session in August, Parliament is not scheduled to return until October 3rd.

However, ministers will be back in Paris by August 24th for their next cabinet meeting and the month of September will be spent drafting and consulting on some major pieces of legislation – including a bill on immigration and a far-reaching energy bill that aims to cut the entire country’s energy use by 10 percent.