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INSIDE FRANCE

Inside France: Macron’s garden, France’s national day and the flying sports superstar

From searing temperatures to national celebrations and glimpse into the presidential gardens, our weekly newsletter Inside France looks at what we have been talking about in France this week.

Inside France: Macron's garden, France's national day and the flying sports superstar
French President Emmanuel Macron answering French journalists and TV hosts Anne-Claire Coudray (L) and Caroline Roux (R) during a live broadcast interview on the Bastille Day, at the Elysee Palace in Paris on July, 14, 2022. (Photo by Ludovic MARIN / AFP)

Inside France is our weekly look at some of the news, talking points and gossip in France that you might not have heard about. It’s published each Saturday and members can receive it directly to their inbox, by going to their newsletter preferences or adding their email to the sign-up box in this article.

National celebrations

It’s been the Frenchest week of the year in France – the country’s Fête nationale.

After two years of curtailed celebrations on July 14th, the traditional ceremonies, parties and fireworks were back this week, with the added bonus that France’s national holiday fell on a Thursday, giving many the opportunity to take a long weekend off. 

The traditional military parade on the Champs Elysée paid homage to the international situation by inviting servicemen and women from nine eastern European nations to march at the head of the parade, indicating European solidarity against Russian aggression in Ukraine.

But there were also plenty of French troops, plus a contingent of Olympians and Paralympians, as Paris prepares to host the 2024 Games.

And just for fun, France’s national rugby captain Antoine Dupont got to fly with the aerial display team Patrouille de France.

In the garden with Macron

July 14th also saw Emmanuel Macron give the traditional Presidential interview.

Macron seemed to disappear slightly from public view after the April elections and there was much speculation that he was ill or just exhausted from years of constant crisis, but in the televised Thursday interview – filmed in a shady spot in the beautiful gardens of the Elysée – he appeared back to his old self: focused, energetic and with some illusions to classical mythology.

And if you like the look of the presidential gardens, you can visit the Elysée as part of the Journée du patrimonie in September. 

Energy ‘sobriety’

His assessment of the months to come did not make particularly cheerful viewing, however, since he warned of “very tough” summer and autumn in the context of the war in Ukraine, adding that for Europe this means learning to do without Russian gas.

He declared that France would need sobriété énergétique (energy sobriety) in the months to come, with both businesses and individuals regulating their consumption.

A more detailed plan is apparently coming in the next few weeks. 

Energy sobriety: What does Macron’s plan to cut energy use really mean?

Scorchio

It’s hard to get away from the fact that it’s currently ridiculously hot in France, as the climate crisis intensifies and country swelters under another heatwave.

These are the kind of temperatures that can kill, and local authorities across France have activated their heatwave plans to keep the elderly and vulnerable safe.

Ever since the canicule (heatwave) of 2003 that killed 15,000 people, all local authorities have been required to have a plan and activate it once heatwave warnings are in place – since 2003 there have been several longer and more intense heatwave (such as 2019 when all-time temperature records across France were broken) but a lower death toll.

While undoubtedly taking the dangers of hot weather seriously, people have also been finding something to joke about, including the below Twitter-user describing the blast of hot air when you open your car window to pay at the toll booth on the autoroute.

Podcast

Although the Talking France podcast is on its summer break, don’t forget that you can listen to all previous episodes here

Inside France is our weekly look at some of the news, talking points and gossip in France that you might not have heard about. It’s published each Saturday and members can receive it directly to their inbox, by going to their newsletter preferences or adding their email to the sign-up box in this article.

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INSIDE FRANCE

Inside France: Strikes, Citroëns and Champagne communists

From good news for French bill-payers to the art of surviving strikes, via festivals and the iconic Citroën 2CV, our weekly newsletter Inside France looks at what we have been talking about in France this week.

Inside France: Strikes, Citroëns and Champagne communists

Inside France is our weekly look at some of the news, talking points and gossip in France that you might not have heard about. Members can receive it directly to their inbox, by going to their newsletter preferences or adding their email to the sign-up box in this article.

After a surprisingly quiet summer in terms of strike action, French unions are once again causing chaos – this time all over Europe – as air traffic controllers go on strike in a dispute over pay, working conditions and future recruitment.

It’s obviously never fun getting caught up in a strike, especially airline strikes which can ruin important trips and much-anticipated holidays.

However they are a fact of life and I believe that one of the most important skills for life in France is learning how to be philosophical about strikes. Everyone finds their own path to this form of inner peace, but for me it was realising how much of the French social contract – from good public services to workers’ rights – depends on the power of the street to hold governments to account.

Oh, and strike days are also a great time to learn some new French swear-words. 

READ ALSO How to stop worrying and learn to love French strikes

It looks we may all be getting some practice at this soon in a possibly troubled autumn – unions and leftist political parties are already calling for demos later in September over the cost-of-living, and that’s even before Emmanuel Macron introduces his highly controversial bills for reforming both the pension system (again) and the unemployment benefits system.

Things could get lively. 

Bills

Whether because they’re afraid of social unrest or because they’re lovely people, the French government has announced that the cap on energy prices will be extended into 2023, albeit raised to a maximum 15 percent increase.

Bills increasing is never good news, and of course will hit those on low incomes the hardest, but a glance over the Channel at 200 percent increases in electricity bills is enough to make me thank my lucky stars that I live in France.

Champagne communists 

Running since 1930, the Fête de l’Humanité is a pretty big deal in France, attracting around 500,000 people – it raises funds for the Communist newspaper l’Humanité but attracts speakers from across the political left, as well as being a major music festival with dozens of well-known bands appearing over the three days.

But for my money, the best thing about it is that local Communist parties from all over France (and the world in fact) come and set up stands, most of which lure in punters with the food and drink speciality of their regions.

If dancing in a tent with drunk French Communists while sipping €4 glasses of Champagne is your thing, then you will love the Fête de l’Humanité. (And no, ‘Champagne socialist’ is not an insult in France, instead we say gauche caviar).

Podcast

If you like idle chit-chat about France – as well as some serious topics – check out our weekly Talking France podcast.

In the most recent episode we tackle the heavy subjects of assisted dying, plus the problems of the French nuclear industry, before heading to the lighter waters of Dijon mustard, Bordeaux wine and some topical French phrases.

Listen on Spotify, Apple or Google podcasts, download it HERE or listen on the link below.

Photo of the week

This has to be the French photo of the week, for all the reasons explained below

Inside France is our weekly look at some of the news, talking points and gossip in France that you might not have heard about. Members can receive it directly to their inbox, by going to their newsletter preferences or adding their email to the sign-up box in this article.

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