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WHAT CHANGES IN FRANCE

On the Agenda: What’s happening in France this week

From crunch time in pay negotiations for railway workers to seasonal festivals and the small matter of a football match, here's what is happening in France this week.

On the Agenda: What's happening in France this week
Photo by JEAN-CHRISTOPHE VERHAEGEN / AFP

Monday

Train disruption – there was major disruption over the weekend as train conductors and ticket inspectors walked out, leading to around half of all TGV services being cancelled. The strike ended on Sunday night, but there is expected to be significant knock-on disruption on Monday. 

Tuesday 

St Nicolas Day – this festival is a huge deal in Germany, but it’s also celebrated in the historic Alsace region of France. The festival involves parades in some towns, gifts for well-behaved children (and a visit from a scary figure with a whip for bad kids) and lots of gingerbread.

What you need to know about St Nicolas Day in France

Wednesday 

Rail strike – unions have issued a provisional strike notice for Wednesday, ahead of a crunch day of talks on Thursday in the ongoing pay negotiations for SNCF workers.

Thursday

Railway pay negotiations – the key meeting between bosses and unions representing French rail workers. Depending on how these talks go, there could be further strike action over the Christmas and New Year weekends. 

Fête des lumières – the Lyon festival of lights begins on Thursday and runs until Sunday. The festival is the biggest and most famous of the many light festivals that take place in France through December.

What you need to know about the Lyon festival of lights

Friday 

Right to die – launch of the citizen convention looking at France’s right to die laws. This is the beginning of a public consultation looking at the question of whether France should relax its laws on assisted suicide. It comes after the national Ethics Committee for Health and Life Sciences issued a positive response on the question of assisted suicide. 

Saturday

France v England – France take on England in the quarter finals of the men’s football World Cup in Qatar.

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WHAT CHANGES IN FRANCE

On the Agenda: What’s happening in France this week

From demos by fed-up boulangerie owners to oil refinery blockades, via a comic-book festival and film awards, here's what is happening in France this week.

On the Agenda: What's happening in France this week

Monday

Pension reform bill (and strikes) – Monday marks the first step in the legislative process of Emmanuel Macron’s pension reform bill, as it comes before the Council of Ministers. This is largely a formality before debates begin in the Assemblée nationale and then the Senate, but some unions have issued a call for  “extra actions and initiatives, including strikes around January 23rd”. These are unlikely to be widespread or particularly disruptive, however.

Calendar: Key dates in the French pension strikes

Bakers’ demoboulangers will hold a demonstration in Paris against the spiralling energy costs which they say risk putting them out of business. Bakers from all over the country are expected to attend the protest, which begins at 2pm.

Tuesday

Darmanin rape case – the Court of Appeal in Paris will deliver its verdict into allegations of rape made against the Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin. Police have already said they will not be charging him after they were ordered to re-examine the allegations, which date to before Darmanin became a minister.

Wednesday

César nominations – nominations will be announced for the César cinema awards, the French equivalent of the Oscars. This year, organisers have said that anyone who is accused of sexual violence will be barred from attending the awards ceremony in February.

Thursday

Refinery blockades – oil refinery workers belonging to the militant CGT union have declared a two-day strike on Thursday and Friday, with the likelihood that refineries will also be blockaded. This can lead to shortages at service stations around the country, as deliveries cannot get out.

Angouleme comic book festival – the annual Festival de la Bande Dessiné begins in Angouleme, France’s largest festival of graphic novels, which are extremely popular with readers throughout the country.

Friday

Benalla appeal – appeal hearing in the case of Alexandre Benalla, Emmanuel Macron’s former bodtguard who was caught on camera beating protesters during the 2018 May Day protests. The ‘Affaire Benalla’ became the first major scandal of the Macron presidency.

Saturday

Paris demo – a demo is planned in Paris to show support for people detained in Iran for protesting against the regime.

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