• From life on the road to housing estates: the uneasy transition for travellers

    Entre les caravanes et les algeccos, les habitants ont créé une petite cour. Entre les caravanes et les algeccos, les habitants ont créé une petite cour.

    All across France travellers – including Gypsies from various different communities – live in caravans at makeshift campsites with the bare minimum of sanitation and other facilities. A few local authorities have decided to rehouse them in new, permanent homes, and Strasbourg in north-east France is currently building the largest traveller estate of its kind in the country. But as Noemie Rousseau reports from there, even when new homes are available, it is not always easy for people used to the open road to adapt their culture to living between four walls.

  • Trapped in an industrial wasteland

    Serge Baroni, dans sa maison du quartier de la Soie © Simon Castel Serge Baroni, dans sa maison du quartier de la Soie © Simon Castel

    The town of Givet, in the Ardennes region of north-east France, was once a flourishing industrial site, its earliest factories dating back to the late 18th century. Today, however, Givet is studded with industrial wastelands, the landmarks of a steady decline that began in the 1980s and which has accelerated over recent years. Little by little, seemingly without any fuss or mass layoffs, the town has lost its lifeblood, reaching a point of almost complete de-industrialisation. Simon Castel reports on the despair and gloom of a population trapped in crisis.

  • How barren is my valley: an everyday story of France's disappearing industrial fabric

     © L.B. © L.B.

    It’s a story of everyday France, of a provincial region slowly dying through disindustrialisation, with mounting unemployment and a young population that sees no future worth planning for. In the Andelle valley in Normandy, factories once flourished. Now, the plants that haven’t yet closed are either scaling down the workforce or hiring mostly temporary staff. In a region just 90 kilometres from Paris, 25% of young men aged 15-24, and 35% of young women, are unemployed. Without transport, public or private, to travel farther afield for work, many young adults are caught in a spiral of odd-jobbing and signing on the dole. Liza Fabbian reports from a region that illustrates the grim reality of France’s disappearing industrial fabric.

  • French Catholic Church begins open battle with Hollande over same-sex marriage law

    The French Catholic Church this week organized the reading of a prayer in churches across the country against President François Hollande’s plans to legalize same-sex marriages and to grant child adoption rights to gay couples. The ‘Prayer for France’ was read by priests and parishioners during the traditional yearly Assumption Day Mass on August 15th, directed at politicians "so that their sense of the common good will overcome special demands". While the move outraged gay rights groups and set the Church on a collision course with government, it also divided some congregations - nowhere more so than those in the Marais ‘gay quarter’ of Paris, where Mathilde Mathieu and Michaël Hajdenberg spoke to parishioners and priests.   

  • 'Hollande has done nothing – the factory is closing and he hasn't met us'

    By and
    A l'entrée de l'usine. © (dr) A l'entrée de l'usine. © (dr)

    It is the first big social test of President François Hollande's new government. The giant French carmaker PSA Peugeot Citroën has announced it is shedding 8,000 jobs, including the closure of a plant at Aulnay-sous-Bois on the outskirts of Paris. Unions have described the news as a “declaration of war”and workers have pledged to fight the factory closure all the way. President Hollande has said the cuts are “unacceptable” and told Peugeot to re-negotiate with employees. But the new government has itself come under fire from workers and unions for not putting enough pressure on the car manufacturer. Mediapart's Rachida El Azzouzi and Ellen Salvi went to Aulnay to meet the workforce.

  • The massacre of Europe's ancient olive groves

     © phr © phr

    They are now about to end their lives amusing the nouveau rich beside swimming pools and on golf courses. The unluckiest will be replanted as zoo-like curiosities in ornamental gardens in northern Europe, even Russia, where the cold and lack of light will turn them sterile. At the current rate of uprooting, these majestic and viable olive trees, many hundreds of years old, some even a thousand years old, will have entirely disappeared from southern Portugal and Spain in the space of a generation. Philippe Riès reports on an ecological and cultural disaster caused by the perverse effects of European Union agricultural policies.

  • François Hollande is elected French president

     © Thomas Haley © Thomas Haley

    Socialist Party candidate François Hollande has won the French presidential elections. Official results announced by the interior ministry at 1 a.m. Monday gave Hollande a 51.67% share of the vote in mainland France, but excluding the results from French expatriate votes. Hollande’s victory over incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy, credited with 48.33%, is the first time a socialist has been elected president since François Mitterrand won a second term of office in 1988 and ends 17 years of uninterrupted conservative occupancy of the post. Hollande, 57, will now formally enter office mid-May, when he will appoint a prime minister to form a caretaker government until parliamentary elections are held in June. “I have confidence in France, I know it well, I know we are capable of straightening ourselves up," Hollande said in a victory speech on Sunday evening. “It is this French dream that I will make it my job to accomplish." Sarkozy, meanwhile, said he accepted "full responsibility" for his defeat and announced he was quitting front-line politics. "My place can no longer be the same" he said, "another era is underway".

  • French elections in images: Marine Le Pen hi-jacks Joan's charger for 'proud and strong' France

    Pour voir le portfolio, cliquer sur l'image @ Thomas Haley Pour voir le portfolio, cliquer sur l'image @ Thomas Haley

    Far-right Front National leader Marine Le Pen led party supporters on their now traditional May 1st “patriotic” rally, beginning with a wreath-laying ceremony at the statue of Joan of Arc in central Paris, and ending with a gathering at the nearby Place de L’Opéra square where Le Pen delivered a speech before a flag-waving crowd, many with T-shirts and banners proclaiming ‘French proud and strong’. American Paris-based photographer Thomas Haley was there to capture the atmosphere for Mediapart.  

  • French elections in images: Sarkozy's 'real labour' Mayday call

    Vidéo de Patrick Artinian dans l'article Vidéo de Patrick Artinian dans l'article

    Photographer Patrick Artinian is following the French presidential election campaign trail for Mediapart, with a series of photo and video reportages of the candidates, their supporters, meetings and the milestone events. Here he captures the atmosphere at Nicolas Sarkozy’s counter-May Day rally in Paris on May 1st, when the incumbent presidential election candidate, forecast by opinion surveys to be trounced by Socialist Party rival François Hollande in the final play-off on Sunday, called on his supporters to turn out en masse in support of “real labour”. The notion, he said, describes he "who gets up very early every morning and goes to bed late at night, who doesn't ask for congratulations, nor medals, nothing.”     

  • French elections in images: May Day crowds give Sarkozy his marching orders

    Pour voir le portfolio, cliquer sur l'image © Thomas Haley Pour voir le portfolio, cliquer sur l'image © Thomas Haley

    The traditional May Day marches across France to celebrate International Workers’ Day brought out 750,000 people nationwide, according to the country’s principal trades union, the CGT. The largest rally was held in Paris, where the union claimed 250,000 turned out – 48,000 according to the police. While the real figure most certainly lies somewhere between, observers agreed that it was a larger number than showed up in 2011, encouraged at least in part by the clement weather and the final stage of the Left hopes will be a victorious presidential election campaign. American Paris-based photographer Thomas Haley, who has been following the French presidential election campaign with a series of picture reports for Mediapart, joined the festive crowds marching through the capital.