• Spitsbergen: a visit into the bowels of the bank of bio-diversity

    Longyearbyen, capitale de l'archipel de Svalbard. © M.G. Longyearbyen, capitale de l'archipel de Svalbard. © M.G.

    A great but tainted notion for some, a treasure trove for others: the Svalbard Global Seed Vault has been described variously as a 'Noah's Ark', 'Garden of Eden' and a 'world treasure'. It is a very special vault, wedged smack into the frozen heart of an Arctic archipelago near the North Pole, designed to hold and preserve seed samples of every food crop in the world. In the first of this two-part report, Mathilde Goanec in Spitsbergen (photo) takes us on a guided tour.

  • Mounting anger over French police suicides


    The recent suicide of a policewoman in southern France has highlighted alarm in the profession over the yearly number of officers, especially the young, who take their own lives. Unions claim that many of the around 50 suicides per year are 'workplace accidents', caused by increasing stress on the job and deteriorating professional conditions. The interior ministry thas recognised just one such case. But the tragic event in July may become a landmark case. Louise Fessard reports.

  • The increasing squalor for Roma in France

    A year ago President Nicolas Sarkozy laid down a tough new policy towards Roma gypsy migrants in France that caused outcry at home and abroad, when it was even compared with the treatment of Jews during the Second World War. One year after his speech, Mediapart visited a camp for Roma north of Paris accompanied by the ‘French doctors' charity Médecins du Monde and local authorities. Cécile Alibert reports on an alarming situation.

  • Report sounds alarm over white-collar crime in France


    While President Nicolas Sarkozy has made cracking down on crime a hallmark of his policies, in particular regarding juvenile delinquents, French justice has become alarmingly coy in dealing with white-collar financial crime, according to a report from the French branch of the anti-corruption NGO Transparency International. Michel Deléan reviews the findings.

  • The changing face of the French seasonal worker


    Summer is the height of the employment season for thousands of temporary workers. The caricature of the average seasonal worker in France used to be a footloose, happy-go-lucky male party animal, sporting an all-year-round tan; in summer he served cocktails on the beach, in winter he gave ski lessons. But nowadays, ‘he' is often a she, pushing 50, with a family to feed, no hope of finding a long-term contract, and little idea of how she is going to make it through the next 12 years to retirement. Noémie Rousseau reports.

  • Elysée Palace audit demands 'transparency' on communications gurus

    The French national audit office report into spending by the French presidential offices during 2010 was largely complimentary over the achieved reduction in the administration's costs. However, it raised more than an eyebrow over the lack of accountability of spending on President Sarkozy's ‘communications' advisors. Mathilde Mathieu and Michaël Hadjenberg report.

  • Jane Evelyn Atwood, bringing exclusion into focus

     © Jane Evelyn Atwood © Jane Evelyn Atwood
    France-based American photographer Jane Evelyn Atwood has focused her work upon portraying the excluded and the outcasts of society. Her haunting images capture the eclipsed conditions of the sick, the blind, the handicapped, but also those of prostitutes and prisoners, revealing lives and worlds that are largely kept hidden from view. An exhibition celebrating her photography, spanning more than 30 years, is now on in Paris. Here, Clément Sénéchal presents Atwood's work and interviews the photographer about her approach and experiences.
  • Shadow chaser Mofokeng arrives in the City of Light

     © Santu Mofokeng. © Santu Mofokeng.
    Over a period of 30 years, celebrated South African photographer Santu Mofokeng has documented apartheid and its aftermath in dramatic, black-and-white stills, latterly turning his lens on many other contemporary issues. The Jeu de Paume museum in Paris is this summer hosting a world-tour retrospective exhibition of his stunning photos entitled Chasing Shadows - a reference, the photographer says, to the idea that "you can't see spirits". Clément Sénéchal reviews the powerful images on display and talks to Mofokeng about how he approaches subjects and why he shuns fast-lane "digital bulimia".
  • The cloud hanging over EDF's nuclear workplace accidents

    SK SK

    A court hearing in Normandy earlier this month provided a revealing insight into official secrecy over the dangers to which are exposed many of the 125,000 people employed in the nuclear industry in France, one of the world's leading operators and exporters of civil nuclear power technology. It centres on the case of a welder exposed to nuclear contamination at a local power plant, but whose employer refuses, like others in the industry, to consider the incident as a workplace accident. Mediapart has obtained exclusive access to an internal document from French utilities giant EDF instructing nuclear power plant directors when not to declare incidents of on-site irradiation and contamination. Jade Lindgaard reports.

  • Bettencourt battle back after L'Oréal heiress signs away 143 million euros

    Inspirational? Liliane Bettencourt during a French TV interview. © France 3 Inspirational? Liliane Bettencourt during a French TV interview. © France 3

    Following a six-month family truce, the daughter of L'Oréal heiress Liliane Bettencourt (photo) has re-applied to have her mother placed as a ward of court amid fresh concerns over the management of the 88 year-old's personal finances, including suspicions of conflicts of interest in a business deal brokered by her newly-appointed legal protector and wealth manager. Karl Laske reports.