South west France news: New bridge, historic festival and star signings

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South west France news: New bridge, historic festival and star signings
This aerial photograph shows the Simone Veil Bridge under construction, which will connect the right and left banks of Bordeaux, southwestern France (Photo by MEHDI FEDOUACH / AFP)

From festivals and visits from a few famous faces to plans for a new bridge and anti-drought measures, here's our round-up from south west France.


Pension protests in the region

As France prepares for another day of widespread strike action on Tuesday, January 31st in protest against French President Emmanuel Macron's proposed changes to the retirement system, demos are planned across the south west.

In Bordeaux, mobilisation will begin at noon at the Place des Quinconces, and the procession will go down to the Garonne and along the quays.

Around 20 percent of Bordeaux public transport employees have declared that they will walk out, according to Le Figaro. Tram services will be normal for the A line, but the B, C and D lines will experience delays. Additionally, several bus lines will not run. 


There will also be other protests in other parts of the south west. The local newspaper, Sud Ouest, put together a map of where people in the region plan to mobilise on January 31st. You can see the locations for the south west (in green) below:


A new bridge for Bordeaux

Scheduled to open in June 2024, the Simone Veil Bridge will soon connect the right and left banks of the Garonne in Bordeaux.

In January, the bridge passed a symbolic milestone: construction began on the left bank (as shown in the image below) to link up with construction from the right bank.

Construction on the bridge first began in 2018, but disagreements between the construction company and local authorities within the Bordeaux greater urban area have led to delays.

Local residents can get excited about a bridge that is intended to both ease traffic congestion and provide a place for pedestrians and cyclists to cross over the Garonne, with tree-lined sidewalks and bicycle lanes, according to Actu FR.

Jean Touzeau, the vice president of the greater urban area for Bordeaux, said that at 545-metres long it will be a "new generation" bridge and that it offer "unique look".

It comes as residents of Bordeaux are being consulted about a plan to install cable cars over the river

Drought plan

Over the summer, France saw over 48,000 hectares of land burn amid forest fires, with the worst of them hitting Gironde. Some parts of France's south west continue to have water restrictions in place (you can see the map HERE).

Now France's environment minister Christophe Béchu announced a drought plan for this summer, including plans to develop “a form of Ecowatt water, on which we will find the pressure on water supply locally”. 


The Ecowatt app shows users the risk of power cuts in their areas – the water app would be similar and users will also receive advice on how to reduce their water use.

You can read more about how France will tackle future droughts here.

Water limits, apps and leaks: How France plans to deal with future droughts

Property taxes

All property owners in France will have to complete an extra tax declaration this year, including those who may own a second home in the south west, but normally live in another country.

Do not fear - this isn’t an extra tax, it’s simply an extra piece of paperwork that has to be filled in, known as a Déclaration d’occupation, and this declaration is concerned with whether the property is your main residence or a second home.

The French tax authorities are asking people to fill out this déclaration in order to help them determine who should pay the taxe d'habitation property tax. In France there are two types of property tax - the taxe foncière which is paid by the property owner and taxe d’habitation which is paid by the property occupier. If you own your home home, traditionally you paid both.

However, the French government is in the process of scrapping the taxe d’habitation for most people, and now only high-earners and second-home owners pay it. The problem is that the tax office don’t have a record of whether a property is used as a main home or a second home and therefore don’t know who to send bills to. You can learn more about this new form and how to fill it out here.

France brings in new tax declaration for property-owners

Video of the week

Last week marked the 50th edition of the Angoulême International Comic book festival. Check out the video below of the Guez-de-Balzac chapel which hosted a 'sound and light' exhibition of the work of bande-dessinée artist Philippe Druillet.

In the camp

Down in the Landes seaside resort of Capbreton, the French rugby team have been holed up for their final training camp ahead of the Six Nations.


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A post shared by France Rugby (@francerugby)


Local autograph-hunters, plus school and youth teams, turned up in force to wish the French team luck ahead of the tournament beginning on Sunday. 


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