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TALKING FRANCE

PODCAST: Travel, politics and Covid: What’s in store for France this summer?

The Talking France podcast is back for the final episode of this series and taking a look ahead to summer - from the possibility of early elections to eating snails, the French tourism industry and the vital cultural importance of les grandes vacances.

PODCAST: Travel, politics and Covid: What's in store for France this summer?
Image: The Local

Host Ben McPartland is joined by Local France editor Emma Pearson and reporter Genevieve Mansfield, plus political expert John Lichfield to take a deep dive into everything seasonal.

We’re looking at why the summer vacation is such a big deal in France, to the point that cities empty out, and how the long-standing French tradition of ‘staycation’ might help France’s vital tourism industry withstand the challenges ahead.

You can find the Talking France podcast on Spotify, Apple or Google, listen on the link below or download it HERE.

Usually politicians also take a summer break, but with the ongoing political crisis things might be different this year.

John Lichfield told us: “I think much depends on what happens when the parliament meets properly next week, whether this fragile alliance will allow the government to pass necessary bills like extending the fuel rebate.

“If they can manage to get through that without the system collapsing or gumming up entirely then I think we will see a summer break and hostilities recommence in September.

“Autumn elections? I think not, but it’s hard to see how there won’t be a new election next year, possibly in spring or early summer.”

One of the political challenges ahead is the possibility of changing the constitution to enshrine the right to abortion – Genevieve Mansfield explains how France’s constitution works, the steps required to change it and which constitution lasted just one year.

Strikes and traffic jams are also something of a summer tradition in France so we have tips on dealing with both, and we’re also answering the question that many tourists have asked – in tones ranging from curiosity to disgust – do the French really eat snails, frogs and horses?

Like most of the country, Talking France will be taking a break over the summer, but you can find all our previous episodes HERE, where we answer questions on topics as diverse as the country’s electoral system, regional rivalries and why a woman’s maiden name is so important.

We’re also keen to hear feedback from listeners and we love to get questions – email [email protected] with your thoughts, suggestions and questions.

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STRIKES

French airline staff threaten strikes over Christmas

Unions representing cabin crew on several airlines have threatened to take strike action over the Christmas holidays in a series of increasingly bitter pay disputes.

French airline staff threaten strikes over Christmas

Cabin crew for Air France have already outlined dates for possible strike days, while unions representing staff at Easyjet and Ryanair are threatening “massive disruption” unless their demands are met.

The SNPNC-FO union, which represents cabin crew working in France, is calling for pay increases for its members working for budget airline Easyjet, warning that if no agreement is reached there will be a “very high risk” of walk-outs over Christmas.

Strikes, prices and services – what you need to know about travel over Christmas 2022

No exact dates have been proposed yet, but the union says that the current pay offer does not cover the rising cost of living, adding “the management will be responsible for the disruptions suffered by our customers”.

Cabin crew at Air France have filed a provisional strike notice from December 22nd to January 2nd, although whether staff actually walk out depends on how the pay negotiations go.

“This notice should serve as a warning to our management,” explains a union leaflet. “If this warning is not heeded, only a strong mobilisation will be able to tip the balance.”

So far the only confirmed strike action is at Air Antilles and Air Guyane – which mostly run flights between France and the Caribbean and French Guyana. Their staff will be walking out between December 17th and December 22nd, unless there is a breakthrough in pay negotiations. 

Ryanair crew working in Belgium have also threatened strike action over Christmas, although so far their French colleagues have not revealed any strike plans. 

Things look better for rail and ferry travel, with no strikes currently planned – although anyone with a trip to the UK planned should be aware of strike days planned by British rail staff over the Christmas and New Year period.

French airport ground staff and air traffic controllers won themselves a pay rise after strike action over the summer holidays. 

You can find all the latest strike information for France on our strikes page HERE.

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