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LifeStyle 74 News From the Papers

Eleven French departments on weather alert

An early cold snap brought the first bite of winter, with snow, ice, rain and flooding to SE France on Thursday.

Several departments in the South East were snow covered making driving conditions hazardous.

Ardèche, Loire, Rhône and Saône-et-Loire, as well as Ain, Drôme and Isère, got snow and ice as forecasters warned of 'significant' early snowfall.

Residents in Bouches-du-Rhône, Var and Vaucluse got rain and flooding, and some claps of thunder. The Var was on alert for coastal flooding, along with Alpes-Maritimes.


Fire Ravages Annecy City Hall

Dauphiné Libéré - 14 Nov 2019   & Ron Myers

Fire has ravaged the Mairie of Annecy, capital city of the Haute Savoie. The neo-classic building has been 80% destroyed.

The building was evacuated and there were no injuries.

The school and nursery on the nearby quai Jules Philippe were also evacuated and the children taken to a safe location.

It is believed the fire was accidental. It broke out just after noon Thursday in an electrical installation on the third floor, and quickly spread to the wooden roof.

Spectacular flames shot high in the sky Thursday afternoon and continued into the evening, as fire fighters battled in vain.

The main street through Annecy was cordoned off and it has been impossible to traverse the city.

Firemen anticipated a long Thursday night struggling to completely extinguish the stubborn flames.

Annecy, known as 'the pearl of the Alps' is a popular holiday destination year-round for its beautiful Medieval buildings and large lake, as well as nearby ski resorts.

It’s hard to imagine that this magnificent building has been destroyed.
Dr. Esther and I were admiring it just a week ago, the rainy day we were at Annecy to acquire her long term French visa. We’d parked our car in the underground parking next to the Marie, then enjoyed a Subway just across the street.

It will take years to reconstruct the Annecy Mairie. Meanwhile, city services must be displaced to other buildings in the area.


General overseeing Notre-Dame renovation tells chief architect to ‘shut his mouth’

RFI - 14/11/2019

The French army general charged with overseeing the rebuilding of Paris' fire-mangled Notre-Dame, has caused astonishment by publicly telling the cathedral's chief architect to "shut his mouth" in a sign of tension over the monument's future look.

General Jean-Louis Georgelin and chief architect Philippe Villeneuve are at odds over whether to replace the cathedral's spire -- which was toppled in the April 15 blaze -- with an exact replica, or mix things up with a modern twist.

President Emmanuel Macron, who appointed Georgelin to head the massive reconstruction project, has said he is in favor of adding a "contemporary" touch.

But Villeneuve insists the tower must be redone exactly as it was before.

Tensions boiled over into an open squabble at a meeting of the cultural affairs committee of the National Assembly -- the lower house of parliament-- late Wednesday.

Culture Minister Franck Riester tweeted Thursday that Georgelin's outburst was "not acceptable".

"As for the chief architect, I have already explained that he should shut his mouth," Georgelin erupted, to gasps of astonishment from those present at the meeting.

The former army chief of staff suggested that "we move ahead in wisdom so that we can serenely make the best choice for Notre-Dame, for Paris, for the world".

He said the final option will be decided in 2021, and called in the meantime for the "hustle and bustle" over the issue to stop.

Georgelin confirmed the five-year timeframe set by Macron for rebuilding the religious edifice -- a deadline some experts see as too ambitious.

Villeneuve, however, has previously said the target could only be met if the spire is rebuilt to resemble its former self.

The Notre-Dame, part of a UNESCO world heritage site covering the banks of the River Seine in Paris, lost its gothic spire, roof and many precious artefacts in the April 15 blaze.

Paris prosecutors said in June a poorly stubbed-out cigarette or an electrical fault could have started the fire and opened an investigation into criminal negligence.

Last month, the culture ministry said nearly one billion euros had been pledged or raised for the gargantuan reconstruction.

The cathedral remains enveloped in scaffolding and plastic sheeting.

Georgelin told MPs the Notre-Dame "remains in danger".

"The phase of securing the edifice is not over. It will be done when the scaffolding around the spire has been dismantled," he said, and warned of winter gales threatening to "destabilize" the temporary, protective structure.

On the positive side, the Notre-Dame "no longer seems to be emitting lead" offsite -- a major concern shortly after the disaster that saw hundreds of tonnes of lead in the roof and steeple melt.

Villeneuve, the cathedral's architect since 2013, told the RTL broadcaster last month: "Either I restore it identically, it will be me, or they make a contemporary spire and it will be someone else."


Desperation in French hospitals sees massive demonstration

RFI - Issued on: 14/11/2019

Hundreds of French hospital workers turned out to demonstrate on Thursday, over dire conditions in the public health system.

In an op-ed published in the daily Le Monde newspaper on 13 November, 70 directors of public medical establishments expressed their frustration over a system facing a complete breakdown.

"We can't do a good job in these conditions," they wrote. "The hospital is sick."

Thursday's march, organized by a new collective, is supported by all the major unions and brings together health workers regardless of rank.

It comes on the back of a series of strikes and demonstrations held since March.

Among the demands being made are more funding, pay rises, in particular for those on low salaries, hiring more staff and providing more beds.

"Resources, staffing, conditions...why the whole hospital system is on strike this Thursday," wrote the collective known as Inter-Urgences on Twitter (inter-emergency wards)

Student doctors and health workers have also joined the protest.

The unions encouraged workers to cancel any non-urgent medical procedures.

New funding measures not enough to quell anger

French health minister Agnès Buzyn announced funding in September, but this clearly did not meet the protesters' demands.

In a testament to the crisis, in Toulouse on Wednesday, 13 staff members administratively resigned from their jobs to protest over their working conditions. They will continue however to take care of their patients.

The Parliament is currently preparing the 2020 budget.


Marches and road blocks: How France's 'yellow vests' plan to mark their anniversary

The Local - 14 November 2019

Rolling roadblocks, marches and a dance… This weekend marks the one-year anniversary of the 'yellow vest' protests that gripped France and if organizers have their way it will be a lively weekend.

Multiple events are being organized, but 'yellow vest' numbers have been dwindling dramatically in recent months. From 282,000 people out on the streets at the movement's peak last winter, the more recent weekly demonstrations have been attracting just a couple of hundred.

Organizers are hoping that the anniversary this weekend will kick-start the movement back into life, but exactly how many people will turn up to the many advertised demonstrations is hard to predict.

There are around 140 protest events advertised on social media, with varying levels of interest - here are some of the main ones.

Possible action on the Champs-Elysées - the famous Paris avenue has been banned to protesters since a group of 'yellow vests' ran amok in March, smashing shop windows and setting fire to restaurants. Despite this, the leader of the 'yellow vest citizens' group Thierry Paul Valette says he has applied for permission from the Interior Ministry to march on the Champs-Elysées.

He also says his group will be staging an Opération Escargot - a rolling roadblock or go-slow operation - on the Arc de Triomphe roundabout at the top of the Champs-Elysées.

March in the 18th arrondissement of Paris - several proposed route marches have been refused by the police and a large 'no demonstration' zone remains in place. Currently the only authorized demonstration moves through the 18th arrondissement and ends at Bastille.

Blocking the Paris ringroad - Eric Drouet, one of the movement's main leaders, has called for a blockade of the périphérique that circles Paris starting at 10am on Saturday.

Several Paris shops are also to be targeted in what organizers insist will be a peaceful occupation of "temples of consumption" in the capital. Some of the stores named on Facebook include the Ikea in the city centre, Carrefour at Porte d'Auteuil, Nike at Forum des Halles, H&M  at Rue La Fayette and an Apple store whose location has not been revealed.

In the greater Paris Île de France region marches are planned in Saint-Denis and Saint-Ouen while in Vitry-sur-Seine there is a BBQ for those who do not want to go into Paris.

In Bordeaux there is a call to block the motorway toll booth at Virsac - which has been the frequent target of protests since the start of the 'yellow vest' movement - and a demonstration in the city centre starting from Place de la Bourse.

In Nantes a roundabout blockade is called from 4am on Friday, followed by a march on Saturday and then a dance.

In Lyon a demonstration is planned starting from Place Bellecour.

In Montpellier organizers are calling for multiple roundabouts to be blockaded from 8am on Saturday, before a demonstration in the city centre.

Many organizers of regional groups are also calling on people who can travel to join in demonstrations in Paris.

Raymond Poulidor: French cycling icon dies aged 83

French cycling great Raymond Poulidor has died at the age of 83.

Raymond Poulidor finished second three times and third five times at the Tour de France

Poulidor was renowned for finishing on the podium of the Tour de France eight times from 1962 to 1976, without ever winning the yellow jersey.

As a result he was nicknamed 'The Eternal Second', his career coinciding with legends Jacques Anquetil and Eddy Merckx, who won five Tours each.

However, Poulidor also won the 1964 Vuelta a Espana and the 'monument' classic Milan-San Remo in 1961.

He rode for Mercier for the entirety of his 17-year professional career, during which he won 11 Grand Tour stages - seven at the Tour and four at the Vuelta.

Representing France, he won one silver and three bronze medals in World Championship road races.

Poulidor remained a hugely popular figure in France, affectionately known as 'Pou-Pou', and continued to work for sponsors and appear on the podium during presentations at the Tour de France, including at this year's event.


That’s LifeStyle 74 News From The Papers on Friday, November 15th



LifeStyle 74 weather…

Quite sunny today. Cloudier towards end of the day, especially in the Alps, the Conches valley and in Simplon. Max Temps 6 to 8 C. -4 at 2000 meters. Weak to moderate W winds this morning. In the mountains, strong S winds this morning, weakening.

Partly sunny. Some isolated showers possible. The snow line between 800 and 1000 meters. Intermittent precipitation along the southerly slopes of the Valaisanne Alps. Tendency of Foehn winds. Max Temps 5 to 7. -4 at 2000 meters.

Often cloudy. But some nice sunny spells in the West of the country. Intermittent precipitation, more frequent in the Alps and in Eastern Switzerland. The snow line near 700 meters. Max Temps 2 to 5 C.

Variable cloudiness. Some light rain on the plain, more frequent along the Valaisanne Alps. The snow line near 1000 meters. Max Temps 4 to 6 C.

North of the Alps, partly sunny and generally dry.  Some precipitation in the Simplon area. The snow line between 1000 and 1200 meters. Max Temps 4 to 6 C.

Wednesday & Thursday
Variable weather. A little sunshine, but also some showers, more likely in Simplon. Foehn winds in Central Valais. The snow line rising.

That’s LifeStyle 74 weather.


LifeStyle 74 News From the Papers

Fire Ravages Annecy City Hall

Dauphiné Libéré - 14 Nov 2019   & Ron Myers

Fire has ravaged the Mairie of Annecy, capital city of the Haute Savoie. The neo-classic building has been 80% destroyed.

The building was evacuated and there were no injuries.

It is believed the fire was accidental. It broke out just after noon Thursday in an electrical installation on the third floor, and quickly spread to the wooden roof.

Spectacular flames shot high into the sky all Thursday afternoon and continued into the evening, as fire fighters battled in vain.

The main street through Annecy was cordoned off and it has been impossible to traverse the city.

Firemen anticipated a long Thursday night struggling to completely extinguish the stubborn flames.

It’s hard to imagine that this magnificent building has been destroyed.
Dr. Esther and I were admiring it just a week ago, the rainy day we were at Annecy to acquire her long term French visa. We’d parked our car in the underground parking next to the Marie, then enjoyed a Subway just across the street.

It will take years to reconstruct the Annecy Mairie. Meanwhile, city services must be displaced to other buildings in the area.


Police break up separatist protest on Spain-France route

The Local/AFP - 13 November 2019

Catalan separatists once again blocked routes linking Spain and France on Wednesday morning in an ongoing protest to try to draw international attention to the Catalan independence issue.

Police on Wednesday managed to disperse Catalan separatist protesters from a busy motorway linking Spain and France, reopening the road in both directions after more than 48 hours of intermittent blockages.

The demonstration caused chaos on an artery which is particularly important for cross-border freight transport and is used by some 20,000 lorries per day.

The highway jam began on Monday morning when hundreds of activists flocked to the border area of La Jonquera, blocking the busy AP7 motorway linking northeastern Spain and southern France.


Paris attacks survivors gather for emotional 4th anniversary

RFI - Issued on: 13/11/2019

Several hundred people gathered in Paris on Wednesday to pay tribute to the 130 people killed in terror attacks on 13 November 2015. For those affected by the massacre at the Bataclan concert hall, the anniversary stirs a mix of powerful feelings.

Survivors and family members of victims gathered for an official ceremony in front of the Bataclan concert hall, one of several targets of attacks around the French capital on 13 November 2015.

Police officers, firefighters and paramedics were also in attendance for a fourth-anniversary ceremony marked by a reading of the 90 people who died, a moment of silence and a laying of wreaths.

“It’s easier from one year to the next,” said Laurent Moreau, a 44-year-old graphic designer. “The hardest part is seeing families crying and hearing the reading of the names.”

Violence remains fresh

Moreau was at the concert with his wife and two friends. Although all survived, he came to the ceremony alone.

“The others don’t want to come, it’s too hard for them,” he said. “My wife and I moved away from Paris. One friend lost his job, because it was impossible for him to work, to clear his mind. And the other closed it off, he doesn’t want to speak about the Bataclan.”

Even if four years have passed, the events remain very much a daily reality for those who were confronted with the extreme violence of the attack.

“I’ve come four years in a row, and I was really struck by the huge amount of emotion,” said Alexis Lebrun, a Bataclan survivor and spokesperson of Life for Paris, one of the two groups representing victims of the attacks.

“For people who were touched directly on 13 November 2015, it’s still fresh in their memory.”

Importance of commemoration

After the ceremony, Life for Paris held another gathering outside the town hall of Paris’s 11th arrondissement a short walk away for speeches and musical tributes.

“It took me a long time to be able to come,” said Dany Krivokuca, 54, a Bataclan survivor attending the ceremony for the second time.

“At the beginning you don’t want to accept this, and you work on yourself and with people around you, just to say okay, this has to stop, we have to be strong to stop this together.”

Now Krivokuca comes in the spirit of commemoration.

“Some people just want to erase all of this, but I don’t think it’s a good idea,” she said. “It’s like war: you cannot forget war, you have to think about it.”

Others have been coming from the start. Sheelagh Alexander, whose son Nick died in the Bataclan, travels from the UK to attend ceremonies every year.

“The first year it was really new, no one knew what was really required, people were still recovering,” Alexander said. “Now I think it’s gotten into a routine and they’re seeing what people need.”

Less public attention

Participants also observe that each year’s anniversary brings less attention of politicians and media, a problem for victims still coping with the psychological consequences of the attacks.

“Society doesn’t really understand the consequences of the attacks, not only for the families of the deceased but also for survivors, whose lives have been permanently affected by what happened,” Lebrun said.

For attendees, the waning attention simply underlines the importance of commemoration.

“There are maybe 20 television cameras,” observed Laurent Moreau at the Bataclan ceremony.

“Last year there were 30, two years ago there were 50. The first year there were 100. I think it’s important though, because it’s in the past, and we need to move on.”


Paris to cut number of electric scooter companies to just three

The Local - 13 November 2019

The city of Paris is opening bids for scooter firms to operate in the capital - and in January will select just three firms who will be licensed to operate fleets of dockless electric scooters.

Since their introduction in 2018 the electric scooters - trotinettes eléctrique - have become popular with tourists and locals alike as a cheap and convenient way to get around the city.

Paris city authorities, however, have been less enamored as they have frequently been left dealing with the mess left by the scooter companies - from regulating unsafe behavior to clearing dumped and vandalized scooters out of the Seine.

There are currently 12 firms offering dockless electric scooters in Paris - although some have currently suspended their services - adding up to around 20,000 of the machines scattered around Paris.

After asking the companies to sign a voluntary code of conduct - and introducing a raft of new rules to regulate speed, parking and pavement etiquette - Paris city hall has now announced a tender process to choose just three firms who will be licensed to operate.

The tender process will be launched in "mid-November" says City Hall and the contracts will be awarded from January.

Since the announcement of the tender process, several firms including Voi, Lime and Bird have been making announcements about setting up extra scooter repair facilities and hiring more staff on permanent contracts.

Paris is following in the footsteps of Marseille, which has already limited the number of scooter firms. Three companies - Voi, Bird and Ciric - were awarded licenses in October and will each be allowed to operate 2,000 machines.

Last month scooters were added to the French highway code, which means they are now subject to rules of the road including speed limits and a ban on more than one person per scooter.


'Almost half of French students have to get jobs while they study'

The Local - 13 November 2019

Increased grants, requisitioning homes and an end to students having to get part time jobs while they study - these are some of the demands of the students who have taken to the streets of France to protest at their living conditions.

Damien Charte is a 23-year-old literature student who is an activist at the university of Clermont-Ferrand with Solidaires, the same student union that the Lyon student belonged to who set himself on fire last week in Lyon and sparked the protests.

Solidaires has a long list of things it says the government must do to put an end to the severe shortage of student housing and students’ financial difficulties, which he says is damaging students’ lives and their studies in his town and across France.

“Forty-six percent of students have to work (in a paid job) at some point in the course of their studies,” said Charte, who like many in France think it wrong that students should have to earn money alongside their university work.

He also thinks the central government and municipalities should be able to requisition empty buildings and provide them as accommodation for students, particularly as the number of students in France keeps growing every year.

Free health care is provided at many universities in France but not all, and Charte wants it to be a universal right - and on campus - for students anywhere in the country.

Student grants should be increased, a “student salary” should be given to all students so that they can live decently while they get their education, and no-one should be evicted from official student residences during the winter: these are some more of the demands of Solidaires.

Its demands are similar to those of the left-wing but less radical UNEF, one of the major student movements in France.

Its president, Mélanie Luce, told The Local that she is not sure if the state should requisition homes for students, but that it definitely needs to build more student accommodation.

“Currently private companies are building student residences but we need the state to build them instead,” she said.

She also is in favor of some sort of “salary” for those who study, she wants an increase in monthly state grants (the highest today is around €550) and for grants to be given to more students, as currently only about a third of them receive them.

She, like Damien Charte of Solidaires, says that far too many students are in financial difficulty because they can’t make ends meet.

“We (at UNEF) have had students who were sleeping in cars or even in the street coming to us to ask for help,” she said.

“Forty-two percent of students questioned in a survey by a student health insurance group said they had not gone to see a doctor about a problem because they couldn’t afford it,” she said.

And, again like her Solidaires counterpart, she is furious at the lack of government response so far to the current student unrest.


France plans to extend 24/7 shop openings

The Local - 13 November 2019

The French government is beginning work on measures to extend the rights of shops to stay open all night, something that is currently strictly regulated.

The issue of night opening of food shops - including supermarkets and minimarkets - will be worked on by the government over the next 18 months, it was announced on Wednesday.

The issue is a contentious one in France, as unions have traditionally opposed measures that would involve employees working more anti-social hours. This summer the first hypermarkets to trial opening on a Sunday afternoon were the target of pickets and protests.

The government had first planned a consultation on the subject, but rather than face a likely outcry by unions, it has instead opted to simply prepare an ordonnance "within 18 months" for any measures necessary for night opening of a food shop.

The proposed text will allow supermarkets and mini markets to open from 9pm onwards under the same rules as other night businesses such as cinemas, bars and clubs.

At the moment although food shops are allowed to open until late at night or all night, they can only do so under very strict conditions.

The conditions include double pay for employees, night shifts done on a strictly voluntary basis, equivalent compensatory rest and contributions to travel costs.

The relaxation of these rules would likely lead to more all-night opening, which the government says will benefit shift workers.

Currently most supermarkets close at either 9pm or 9.30pm and among those that do offer 24/7 opening, it is generally only for one day a week.

Although many minimarkets open all day on Sunday, until this summer the bigger supermarkets and hypermarkets were either closed all day on Sunday or only opened in the morning.

The trial of Sunday afternoon opening - which has been rolled out by the Casino chain - involved automated tills only in the afternoon, meaning that customers cannot buy alcohol or knives.


Burger King 'no plans' for veggie burger in France

Connexion - 13 Nov 2019

Fast American fast food giant Burger King has announced it has no plans to offer its newly-launched meat-free “Rebel” burger in France.

The meat-free vege-burger, officially dubbed the “Rebel Whopper” was rolled out in 25 European countries across 2,500 Burger King outlets this week, including Italy, Spain, Portugal, Germany, and Poland.

But there are no plans to bring the option to France.

The Burger King press office in France said: “The launch of this Whopper is not, for now, planned in France. It is undeniable that plant-based alternatives to meat are developing rapidly, and are a real trend in society. We are obviously very aware of that.

“[But] we firstly wish to respond to the very high demand in France for gourmet burgers, with the recent launch of our line: les Masters Burgers. Our priority is therefore to continue to bring this [gourmet] product to market.”

In other words, healthier options is not a high priority for Burger King.

The Rebel Whopper is made with soy and potato protein, coconut and sunflower oil, and an iron-rich molecule named ‘heme’, which gives it a reddish color similar to beef.

It is served in the same way as a usual Burger King beef “Whopper”, with tomatoes, lettuce, mayonnaise, ketchup, pickles, white onions and a sesame seed bun; and it tastes very similar to an all meat burger. But it’s healthier.

In its normal serve, the burger is suitable for vegetarians. If it is cooked in a separate grill to those used for meat, and served without mayonnaise - which can be requested - it is considered suitable for vegans.

David Shear, Burger King’s European president, told the Agence-France Presse that the European roll-out was “one of the largest launches in the history of the brand”.

Vege-burgers are popular even among non-vegetarians. But Burger King will snub the large, growing vegetarian market in France, at least for the time being.


That’s LifeStyle 74 News From The Papers on Thursday, Nov 14th.

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