• French elections in images: firebrand Mélenchon calls for 'civic insurrection'

    Vidéo accessible dans l'article. © (P.A.) Vidéo accessible dans l'article. © (P.A.)

    Photographer Patrick Artinian is following the French presidential election campaign trail for Mediapart, with a series of photo and video reportages with soundtracks of the candidates, their supporters, meetings and milestone events which will continue all the way to the final vote on May 6th. Here he follows a triumphant weekend for radical-left candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon  the man representing the Front de Gauche (Front of the Left), a coalition of parties sitting on the left of the Socialist Party, and which includes the Communist Party and his own Party of the Left. It ends with a mass rally at the Place de la Bastille in Paris (pictured), where Mélenchon delivered a rousing speech before a crowd in excess of 100,000 people, calling for a 'civic insurrection'.

  • French elections in images: Sarkozy rallies the faithful in Villepinte

    Vidéo accessible dans l'article. Vidéo accessible dans l'article.

    Photographer Patrick Artinian is following the French presidential election campaign trail for Mediapart, with a series of photo and video reportages with soundtracks of the candidates, their supporters, meetings and milestone events which will continue all the way to the final vote on May 6th. Here he captures the atmosphere at President Nicolas Sarkozy’s major rally on Sunday March 10th at a meeting hall in Villepinte, a suburban town north of Paris, where, before an estimated 30,000 flag-waving supporters, he played the trump cards he hopes will turn around a flagging re-election campaign.

  • The French farmers fighting the deadly pesticide taboo

     © Reuters © Reuters

    Last month, French cereal farmer Paul François, 47, won a lengthy legal battle against US biotech giant Monsanto in a landmark ruling by a court in Lyon that could open a floodgate of complaints by farmers for chemical poisoning. François was found to have become severely handicapped as a direct result of his contamination by Lasso, a powerful herbicide produced by Monsanto. France is Europe’s biggest user, by volume, of pesticides, and worldwide only India and the United States use more. For François and other campaigners seeking to alert farmers to the dangers of chemical-based phytosanitary products, their battle targets not only the clout of the industrial lobby and a reluctance of the medical profession to recognise the illnesses caused by pesticides, but also a silent taboo among the farming community itself. Claire Le Nestour reports.

  • A graphic account of the riddle of The Black Dahlia

     © Miles Hyman © Miles Hyman

    When James Ellroy published his celebrated crime novel The Black Dahlia in 1987, based on the true story of the unsolved 1947 murder in Los Angeles of Elizabeth Ann Short, it established him as one of the leading neo-noire authors, selling millions of copies worldwide. Now Ellroy has agreed to a major project by French publishers to turn it into a graphic novel, with artwork by Paris-based US illustrator Miles Hyman and text by French ‘BD’ writer Matz. Mediapart has gained exclusive access to follow the complex making of this unusual work, from its initial conception all the way through to its publication in 2013. In this first report, with video, Hyman takes Dominique Bry through the early steps and sketches (pictured) of the project, for which the first, essential challenge was to convince Ellroy that it should happen.  

  • A middle France pushed to extremes

    As France approaches presidential elections, held over two rounds in April and May, both the mainstream Left and Right are threatened with a significant desertion of their core electorate among the country’s low- and middle-income earners, struggling to survive the devastating effects of the economic crisis and revolted by a series of major scandals among the political elites. Rachida el Azzouzi and Mathieu Magnaudeix report from Crepoil and La Ferté-sous-Jouarre, two dormitory communities just east of Paris, where hope in the future has turned to rage against broken promises.

  • How the cost-cutting bug made French hospitals sick


    The French healthcare system enjoys a reputation as one of the most comprehensive and effective worldwide, and was ranked as the overall best in an international survey by the World Health Organization in 2000. But all that came at a price which is now the target of severe cost-cutting drives. The country's debt-ridden hospitals, once an example of excellence, are short of basic supplies of sheets, blankets, bed pads, syringes, bottled water and nurses' uniforms, among other things. "What was working fine before has since turned into a huge mess," comments a senior doctor at the Pitié-Salpêtrière hospital in Paris. Noémie Rousseau reports.

  • Nationality, citizenship and a foreigner's right to vote in France


    Early December, the Left majority in the French Senate passed a bill to give non-EU nationals the right to vote and to stand as candidates for the position of councilor in local, municipal elections. The bill stands no chance of becoming law before the 2012 presidential and legislative elections, as it would require adoption by the current Right-majority in parliament's lower house, and the approval of President Nicolas Sarkozy. But a Socialist Party victory in next year's polls could see the bill finally introduced as law, ending several decades of campaigning, notably by representatives of France's large North African immigrant community. Carine Fouteau met with Hocine Taleb, a 32 year-old Algerian who runs a youth association in a Paris suburb, who explains his anger and frustration at being excluded from local decision-making.

  • How French school books keep it a man's world


    French school teaching books offer a stereotyped, partial, sexist and always minimal record of the place of women in History, according to a study published this month and which confirms the conclusions of various official reports carried out over the past decade. The study, by the Hubertine Auclert Centre, a semi-public institution for the promotion of gender equality, was so damning that none of the 11 books examined were considered worthy of a prize of excellence. Lucie Delaporte reports on its findings.

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

    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


    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.