The French newspaper that only appears once every four years

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The French newspaper that only appears once every four years
The French satirical newspaper La Bougie du Sapeur appearing in 2008. Photo by Patrick HERTZOG / AFP

Today is a very special day for French media - a newspaper will appear in the news kiosks which has not been seen since 2020.


La Bougie du Sapeur (the soldier's candle) is a satirical newspaper that has a very unusual quirk - it is only produced once every four years.

The paper is published on February 29th, which means that it only appears on a leap year (anneé bissextile in French).

As 2024 is a leap year, the paper will appear in news kiosks on Thursday for the first time since 2020.

Keen crossword fans might be the first to snap it up - the paper publishes a crossword and then publishes the results in the next issue; meaning that you have to wait four years to find out the answer to that cryptic clue.


Launched in 1980, the paper describes itself as drôle mais pas méchant (funny but not nasty) and is largely devoted to satirical news articles and musings upon the quirks of everyday life in France.

For example, the 2012 front page concerned itself with why requesting a demi (half) of beer in fact gets you a quarter of a litre, not a half.

"It's a veritable scandal," ran the editorial comment. "When you ask for a demi in your local, you get a quarter. It's organised theft. We are starting a crusade to return the demi to being: a demi!"

The paper - which proudly holds the title of the world's least frequently-produced newspaper - was set up by Jacques Debuisson and Christian Bailly, as a joke between friends.

The name La Bougie du Sapeur refers to Camember, a sapper [soldier] in a comic book created by Georges Colomb in 1896. In the story, Camember was born on February 29th and joined the army when he had celebrated his birthday only four times. 

The paper retails for €4.80 although you can also get a 100-year subscription for €100. Profits are donated to charity. 


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Bryan Woy 2024/02/26 18:54
"drôle mais pas méchant" would be better translated as "funny but not nasty" rather than "funny but not naughty"

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