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Inside France: Elitism, immigration and the joy of raclette

Emma Pearson
Emma Pearson - [email protected]
Inside France: Elitism, immigration and the joy of raclette
The Raclette World Championships. Photo by VALENTIN FLAURAUD / AFP

From French elitism to headline-seeking senators, via seasonal rituals and the joys of a good raclette, our weekly newsletter Inside France looks at what we have been talking about in France this week.

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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.

Senate song-and-dance

This week it's all been about immigration as parliamentary debates begin on the long-awaited Immigration Bill.

However in this case, the Senate is debating it first with the bill due before the Assemblée nationale in December - and in the French system, it's what the Assemblée decides that counts.

Senators, as they often do, have been taking the opportunity to add their own amendments to the bill but these can - and probably will - be struck out once the bill gets before the Assemblée (and that's even before we get into whether the Assemblée will pass the bill or whether it will provoke another constitutional crisis). 

So what's the point of these Senate amendments? Is it just political posturing?

I think there is more to it than that and well-considered amendments can shape laws, but at the same time some are just blatant attempts to grab headlines - such as the amendments to ban the wearing of the hijab that senators regularly (unsuccessfully) try to add to bills concerning integration or separatism. 

It seems to me that the passing of a rather vague amendment to "ease the conditions of entry into France for British citizens who own second homes in France" falls into the latter category, disappointing as I know that will be to many Brits who own property in France. 

READ ALSO Will France loosen visa rules for second-home owners?

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Education and égalité

I must admit, I went down a rabbit hole reading about one of the stranger news stories in France this week - a government minister giving an interview talking about his school bully, who it turns out is one of France's most prominent lawyers and political activists who can frequently be found attacking said minister in print. 

It's all quite strange, but it did get me thinking about just how many of France's leading figures were at school or university together - which perhaps belies the country's stated value of égalité.

We talk about French elitism - and those schools, lycées and universities that produce so many future leaders - in this week's Talking France podcast, along with how France does culture wars, the latest on the 90-day rule and why the French seem so averse to spices. Listen here or on the link below.

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'Tis the season

And one of the things I enjoy about France is its seasonality. Obviously all countries have seasons, but in France I feel it more - not only is the produce on sale in the market very seasonal but there are more rituals that mark the passing the seasons, from the lucky flowers on May 1st to the first glass of rosé to suddenly seeing oysters everywhere in the run-up to Christmas.

This week I indulged in one of the best rituals - the first raclette of winter. 

Raclette (and fondue) are also the subjects of the best old-wives' tale - drinking water with them can cause a fatal stomach blockage so you have to have white wine instead. Santé !

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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