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Inside France For Members

Inside France: Macron's punchbag, teachers' principles and lunch outside

Emma Pearson
Emma Pearson - [email protected]
Inside France: Macron's punchbag, teachers' principles and lunch outside
A spring scene in Paris, by the Canal Saint-Martin. Photo: AFP

From the debate on changes to the French school system, via Olympics progress, the signs of a French spring and 'that' photo of France's boxing president, 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.

Schools of the state

I have found this week's debate on streaming (or sorting kids based on their academic ability) in French schools to be an interesting one.

In my home country of the UK streaming is widespread but not uncontroversial since the sets tend to closely track both class and race, but the debate in France is somewhat different because of how French schools see their place in society.

Teachers say that streaming contradicts the principle of equality and that children must learn alongside their peers of all abilities - which speaks to the principle of schools as places to prepare future citizens of the French republic, not merely factories of learning.

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This gives schools a more politicised role than than in some other countries with people intent on attacking the French state - or even just scaring it as with the recent wave of threatening videos - sometimes deeming schools to be a legitimate target.

We talk about school streaming in the latest episode of our Talking France podcast, as well as the latest on the Olympics, the secrets of the Michelin inspectors and why the French only love their leaders once they are retired or dead. Listen here or on the link below

 

Strike a pose

Soazig de la Moissonnière, Emmanuel Macron's photographer, is clearly a talented snapper constantly coming up with creative takes on what is the often-dull job of being an official photographer - mostly taking photos of men having meetings or world leaders shaking hands.

One of her more candid snaps of the French president has caused a great stir this week, with analysts queuing up to explain what the photo of Macron in boxing gloves, pounding on a punchbag, 'really' means.

I'm no geopolitical expert, but I think it's also possible that the photographer just recognised a good shot when she saw one. 

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Soazig de la Moissonnière (@soazigdelamoissonniere)

Banlieues blues

This week I was lucky enough to hear two fabulous French-Malian singers, Mamani Keita and Vieux Farka Touré, play live. The concert was part of the Banlieues Blues festival - a month-long series of music events celebrating the creative scene in the suburbs of Paris.

If you're anywhere in or around Paris I really recommend checking out the programme - they have some great stuff coming up and it runs until April 5th.

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Spring has sprung

This week saw both the equinox that marks the official start of spring and my personal marker of spring - the first time I was able to take my lunch outside and eat it by the canal (which by the way, has gained some Olympic-related art this week).

Olympic artwork next to the Canal Saint-Martin in northern Paris. Photo: The Local

Seasons turn in all countries, of course, but one of the things that I especially enjoy about life in France is its seasonality - from the arrival of spring drinks like rosé wines to spring vegetables on the market stalls (especially the asparagus) and the festivals that mark the return of the warmer weather. It all gives a comforting sense of the world continuing to turn.

10 signs that spring has arrived in France

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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