Reports

  • The story of Cheylard, another French town felled by the crisis

    By
    Assemblée générale de salariés. Assemblée générale de salariés.

    The small town of Le Cheylard, in the Ardèche region of south-east France, has for decades enjoyed an unusual level of prosperity, essentially through the national and international success of two local companies, one a textile firm the other a jewellery-maker. But now Le Cheylard is facing sudden social death after the companies, weakened by market changes, international competition and the economic crisis, announce job cuts, shorter working weeks and the threat of delocalisation to the Far East. Rachida el Azzouzi reports from a town that is a mirror image of the dramatic industrial transformations wrecking small communities across France.

  • France’s 58 nuclear reactors need safety upgrade to resist natural disasters, says watchdog

    By

    Nuclear power plants in France, the most nuclear dependent country in the world, are vulnerable to the catastrophic effects of a major natural disaster such as that which hit the Japanese plant at Fukushima in March. That is the conclusion of a stress-test study of the country's 58-strong reactor fleet carried out by the French radioprotection and nuclear safety institute, the IRSN, presented Thursday by the national nuclear safety agency, the ASN, which warned that "massive investment" is required for the recommended safety upgrades. Jade Lindgaard reports on the findings.

  • Sarkozy camp hoists social benefits fraud to forefront of re-election campaign

    By

    President Nicolas Sarkozy has clearly decided to make the fight against social benefits fraud, described by one of his ministers as "a cancer of French society", one of the main themes of his 2012 re-election campaign. While that will not officially begin until early next year, this week saw a carefully coordinated blitz against the increasingly stigmatised welfare dependent, and which announces the colour of the presidential election debate ahead. Marine Turchi reports.

  • French youth caught in a spiral of poverty and unemployment

    By

    The French presidential election campaign is underway, after President Nicolas Sarkozy left little doubt in his television interview Thursday that he would be a candidate for his own succession. One of the issues he will be judged upon is the programme he launched in 2009 to combat youth unemployment, and notably the rising numbers of youngsters who are dropping out of the system, unqualified and permanently unemployed. Two years after the president presented his government's ambitious ‘Acting for youth' plan, 20% of 18-25 year-olds in France live below the poverty line, representing half of the country's poor, and 22% of 15-25 year-olds are unemployed. Noémie Rousseau has been seeking out the experiences of those at the frontline reinsertion centres, and their accounts paint a grim picture.

  • The roadmap to a non-nuclear, low carbon future for France

    By

    In a country which gets around 75% of its electricity from nuclear power, and billions of euros from exportation of its civil nuclear technology, the call to dump it could appear akin to science fiction. Yet Négawatt, an association of French environmentalist energy specialists, drew a crowd for its recent presentation of a plan for France to pull out of nuclear energy by 2033 while also halving CO2 emissions by 2030 and converting almost entirely to renewables by 2050. The nuclear industry and two ministries sent emissaries, and the plan now looks set to feature in the 2012 presidential election campaign. Jade Lindgaard reports.

  • October 17, 1961: the night Paris police turned mass murderers

    This Monday marks the macabre anniversary of one night of events that have largely been written out of official French history. On October 17th 1961, hundreds of Algerian pro-independence demonstrators were attacked and murdered by Paris police, most of them thrown into the river Seine. Official records report only two people died. The day will be marked by a series of demonstrations around France, calling for the formal recognition of the massacre that has remained smothered by cynicism, and latterly indifference, for half a century. Patricia Brett reports on the background and details of that sinister, cold autumn evening.

  • The worldwide treasure hunt behind the stunning Stein collection on show in Paris

    By
     © Succession H. Matisse /SFMOMA. © Succession H. Matisse /SFMOMA.
    The Grand Palais in Paris is hosting an exceptional exhibition of major modern artworks from the widely scattered collection of the celebrated Stein family of art patrons who settled in the French capital from the US in the early 20th century. The stunning show of works by Renoir, Cézanne, Picasso, Matisse (photo), Manguin and Bonnard - to name but a few - is the fruit of five years of dogged detective work by specialists in France and from the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art. Joseph Confavreux talks to the team behind this unprecedented worldwide treasure hunt.
  • French Socialist candidates face dogfight for party left

    François Hollande and Martine Aubry have emerged as the finalists in the first round of voting in the French Socialist Party primaries held to choose a candidate in next year's presidential elections. As the showdown between the two approaches in a final poll next weekend, the major upset for both was the unexpectedly high score reached by the party's radical candidate Arnaud Montebourg. Both candidates must reach out to his supporters, and the testing task promises some lively debate in the coming days. Stéphane Alliès and Lénaïg Bredoux report.

  • 'Fed up and ready to change jobs': how French teachers see the crisis in education

    By and
    About 130,000 teachers took to streets in towns and cities across France last week for a day of strike and protest at 14,000 job cuts in the state education system announced for 2012. The planned cuts will bring the number of teaching jobs axed under President Nicolas Sarkozy's five-year mandate to 80,000. Meanwhile, the numbers of pupils each year entering schools nationwide are increasing. Cécile Alibert and Noemie Rousseau joined the demonstration in Paris last week to interview teachers about their individual experiences and complaints.
  • Arms dealer suspect in political funding scam probe issues 'warning' to President Sarkozy

    Franco-Lebanese arms dealer Ziad Takieddine, at the centre of what has become known as the ‘Karachi affair', involving secret political funding from commissions paid in French weapons sales abroad, has given a detailed interview to French TV news channel BFMTV (photo), in which he appeared to address a warning to President Nicolas Sarkozy, now increasingly implicated in the case: "I want to see the president, he has an interest, I think, and France has an interest, that he receives me for at least 15 minutes."