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INSIDE FRANCE

Inside France: Politicians on the beach, rain dances and chorizo

From a political success to a weather crisis, via Macron in a kayak and a misfiring joke about chorizo, our weekly newsletter Inside France looks at what we have been talking about in France this week.

Inside France: Politicians on the beach, rain dances and chorizo
It's August so France is largely on the beach. Photo by Valentine CHAPUIS / 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.

The French parliament has officially broken up for the summer and the MPs are on holiday after an unprecedented week of work in – gasp – August.

Some important bills have been passed, including a package of measures to help French residents deal with the rising cost of living, and now French MPs head off on holiday.

President Emmanuel Macron departed at the beginning of the week, he’s down in the official presidential holiday home on the Riviera, but he’d like us to know that it’s not a holiday, he’s having a pause estival studieuse (studious summer break) – so we can assume his beach reading won’t include many bonkbusters. 

He’s also been spotted doing a bit of sea kayaking, leading to many jokes that he’s ‘studying’ eco-friendly transport forms.

Some politicians will still be working, however, as a ‘crisis task force’ has been set up to help deal with the country’s worst drought in decades.

We’re not entirely sure what the taskforce will do, but if all else fails this ‘sing to make it rain’ event might do the trick.

Water restrictions are now in place throughout the country and some villages have been left entirely without tap water as local supplies fail.

It’s another grim reminder of the climate crisis, along with the ever-increasing danger of avalanches in the Alps.

The mountain of Mont Blanc “is angry”, according to the local mayor, who wants to charge climbers a deposit of €15,000 in order, he says, to pay for rescue and funeral costs. 

As the heatwave continues, this week French sleep experts tackled the important question – why sleeping naked actually won’t keep you cool.

But if you’re in Paris and it’s too hot – try going underground. The city has a number of surprises lurking below ground, from skulls to breweries, underground lakes to mushroom farms and Resistance command posts.

And if anyone ever doubted that the French are pretty funny, this astronomer managed to make worldwide headlines with a picture of a slice of chorizo.

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: French icons, rowdy MPs and travel chaos

The summer is about holidays and this week in France we've had holiday travel chaos, grumpy French MPs not allowed to go on holiday and the build-up to the best party of the summer - welcome to our weekly newsletter Inside France, which looks at what we have been talking about in France this week.

Inside France: French icons, rowdy MPs and travel chaos

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.

Politics and other games

A lot of French workers have now turned on their out-of-office auto replies and headed to the beach, but French MPs are still at work and have even pulled several all-nighters (nuits blanches) to get vital bills like the cost-of-living financial aid package passed through parliament.

They’ve even been told that they’ll have to carry on working until at least August 6th, much later than the parliamentary session usually ends, in order to get legislation passed.

The reason that all debates are taking so long is the lack of an absolute majority for president Emmanuel Macron’s party, meaning that painstaking negotiation and alliance-building has to happen for each section of each bill.

When Macron lost his outright majority, some predicted that this would herald a new era of proper public debate and robust scrutiny of government. It seems those people were a little optimistic – in the past week alone we’ve had a row over whether MPs should wear ties in parliament, a (mocking) Nazi salute in the chamber and endless slanging matches on Twitter. 

Grown-up politics indeed.

Olympic spirit

I freely admit it – I love the Olympics and Paralympics and I believe that the 2024 Paris Games will be amazing, notwithstanding worries about budgeting and security.

Paris has now unveiled its slightly underwhelming slogan Games Wide Open (it sounds better in French – Ouvrons grand les Jeux) coupled with another of its very cool promo videos and the announcement that tickets go on sale in December.

I like that in addition to Games footage, these are stuffed with references to French history and culture – in fact The Local team put together a little quiz to see how many of these you recognise.

Travel chaos

In travel terms, this was the week the Brexit chickens finally came home to roost and thousands of Brits realised what those of us living in France had been forced to face years ago; Brexit brings significant changes to the daily lives of ordinary people and those changes are almost all bad.

Obviously the Brexit transition period began back in January 2021, but pandemic related-travel restrictions meant that this year was the first time since then that the UK saw a peak weekend for holidaymakers trying to cross to France. It did not go well

Our columnist John Lichfield says that the UK travel chaos won’t end until the British government gets real about Brexit. As this looks highly unlikely to happen any time soon, prepare for long waits if you are travelling from the UK to France.

This was also the week that several UK tabloids ‘discovered’ that travel rules for non-EU citizens now apply to Brits. What a shocker. 

In fact there are a whole host of rules for non-EU citizens that now apply to Brits when travelling into an EU country like France – here’s a full list of them

Still, there’s always this old fall-back for British politicians. 

Language laughs

And if you’re on Twitter I highly recommend following the very funny bilingual actor Loïc Suberville, who makes regular short films pointing out the absurdities of the French and English languages.

A little snippet to brighten your day as you wrestle with French grammar.

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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