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Spotlight on France

RFI France

An in-depth look at what makes this country tick.

An in-depth look at what makes this country tick.
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RFI France


An in-depth look at what makes this country tick.




Visa pour l'image: 30 years of stories they don't want you to hear

Visa pour l'image in the French town of Perpignan is the world's largest photojournalism festival. You get to see free exhibitions on under-reported stories; photojournalists try and sell their pictures in an increasingly cash-strapped industry. From the war in Yemen to the Rohingya crisis, the ravages of chemical waste to massive industrial food production, there's plenty to get you thinking. And before you think it's all doom and gloom RFI has space for an uplifting post-conflict story....


France encourages new generation of global citizens through Labcitoyen programme

60 young adults involved in civil society projects from all five continents are in Paris for the annual LabCitoyen (citizen's laboratory). Organised by the Institut Français, the theme this year is education and human rights. Four female participants from Nigeria, Egypt and New Zealand talk to RFI about their work in human rights back home and what they'll be taking away from their trip to France. Labcitoyen gets youngsters involved in a range of French initiatives in the field of human...


Zero waste movement in France 'becoming sexier and sexier'

Your average French person generates 390 kilos of household waste per year. Some is recycled but most of it ends up in landfill. Bad news for the environment and with tighter EU regulations on pre-treatment it's also becoming an increasingly expensive process. But a growing number of people in France are taking matters into their own hands and joining the Zero Waste movement. RFI reports from its annual festival in Paris and finds an unusually optimistic bunch of people. “Of this 400kgs [of...


Self-driving cars raise questions about sustainable urban transport in France

France will soon open its roads to autonomous vehicles, and some are hoping the innovation will lead to collective forms of transportation, rather than self-driving individual cars. French car makers and tech companies are in the race to develop the technology for self-driving cars, but there are calls to take advantage of the technological revolution, to rethink the way people get around in cities. (Click on the photo to listen to the report) In this piece: - Nicolas de Crémiers, of Navya,...


How can women's football attract more attention

Football fans are currently focused on Russia with the World Cup, but in June next year France will host the Women's Football World Cup - a chance to put the spotlight on the women's game and hopefully draw in more media attention and revenue. The beautiful game for women has come a long way since it was first officially recognised, and mocked, in France in 1971 and the French Football Federation is actively pushing to promote it, but challenges remain. Some of France's greatest women...


France's unique experiment in schooling refugee children

On the outskirts of Paris the children of refugee families from countries like Afghanistan, Eritrea and Sudan are being schooled within an emergency refugee centre. The unique experiment, launched just over a year ago, is challenging for staff and pupils alike but is deemed a success and has attracted huge attention abroad. Is this a model to follow? The reception centre for refugees in Ivry-sur-Seine describes itself as a “humanitarian village” with 400 beds providing emergency shelter to...


Why a tiny French village has become a centre of anti-nuclear protests

A French government laboratory in the village of Bure in north east of France is in the last stages of testing the feasibility of storing nuclear waste there. If the project is approved it would be the world's first permanent nuclear waste site. Local opposition, however, is growing. France is the world’s second biggest producer of nuclear power after the US, and more than three quarters of its electricity comes from nuclear. The problem is a small amount of that spent fuel will remain...


Why 'Made in France' is becoming trendy

Made in France is becoming a trend for a certain type of French consumer. Introduced during the 2012 presidential election campaign as a kind of economic patriotism to reindustrialize France, the idea is now being embraced by consumers who want to know where their products are made. RFI’s Sarah Elzas visited a recent Made in France initiative in Paris to find out more.


May '68: a turning point France should remember

50 years ago this month, France lived through mass protests, street battles and its biggest ever nationwide strike. May '68 had a considerable impact on French society but there's been no official commemoration of the 50th anniversary. Is it time to turn the page? Dominique Vidal turned 18 during that month and tells RFI why it deserves to have its place in history. “My memories of the period before May '68 are in black and white. My memories of the period after May '68 are in colour.”...


Paris's Seine-side booksellers call Unesco to the rescue

Some 220 bouquinistes sell second-hand and rare books along the banks of the River Seine in Paris in what has been called the largest open-air bookshop in the world. But as the internet and changing habits eat into book sales, a growing number of these booksellers are turning to the sale of tourist souvenirs and away from reading material. In a bid to preserve the four-century-old traditions of the trade, a group of bouquinistes has launched a campaign to get them onto Unesco's intangible...


Macron's first year in office

A year ago today French politics was turned upside down with the victory of Emmanuel Macron - a 39 year old former investment banker and economy minister who'd created his own centrist movement - On the Move - from scratch. Macron campaigned as the candidate of hope and promised to transform France. So how has he fared? Adam Plowright author of The French exception: Emmanuel Macron, the extraordinary rise and risk weighs up the president's first year in office.


Asylum seekers in France increasingly 'Dublined', deported to other EU countries

Immigration lawyers in the northern French city of Lille are overwhelmed with France's enforcing Dublin removals. The Dublin regulation is the European law that determines which country should examine a particular asylum claim, and the prefecture in Lille is one of two in France that has been given more resources to process Dublin removals. France has started imposing the law more consistently and deporting people in order to avoid hearing asylum claims, say lawyers and asylum rights...


Why French university students and professors fear selection

Police cleared out students occupying a campus of the Sorbonne university last week, ahead of exams. But the protest against a reform of university entrance decisions continues. RFI’s Sarah Elzas looks into the conflict, which is nothing less than a clash in worldviews, of what a university education means in France.


Locals in Lille open their homes to refugees

Getting asylum in France does not mean France, and French people, embrace you. It does not guarantee you a place to live, nor does it mean you will immediately be integrated into the culture. One fast-track way to do it, though, is to live with a French family, and a handful of organisations in France are working to match local hosts with migrant guests. When Helen saw the migrant crisis unfolding in 2015, she jumped into action. She found an organisation that would help her host refugees in...


Franco-German venture takes steps to reach carbon negativity

The 2015 Paris climate agreement (Cop21) agreed to keep global temperatures below 2.0°C above pre-industrial times and to try to limit them to 1.5°C. But existing measures in favour of energy efficiency and carbon neutrality aren't enough; we need to move to carbon negativity by removing CO2 from the atmosphere. As the global construction industry generates huge amounts of CO2 one solution is to start replacing aluminum, steel and cement with carbon-capturing construction material. RFI...


French survivalists focus less on guns, more on self-suffiiency, than US counterparts

Suvivalism is a movement rooted in the United States, but it has its followers in Europe: people who are preparing for natural disasters or social breakdowns by stocking food or building safe houses. At a recent survivalism expo, the first of its kind in France, some French survivalists speak about what motivates them, and their concerns about self-sufficiency in an increasinly uncertain world. (Click on the photo to listen to the report)


France warns of a silent spring as bird numbers plummet

French environment minister Nicolas Hulot says everyone should be ashamed of the drastic drop in the number of birds in France and has called on his fellow citizens to help reduce the use of pesticides. By killing off some 80% of insects, pesticides are helping starve birds to death. But they're not the only culprits. RFI reports from the Botanical Gardens in Paris where researchers say we should expect a quieter spring. "Yesterday it was sunny and the birds were really excited. Males were...


Disabled travel in France remains difficult, despite accessibility laws

Paris is the most visited city in the world, but disabled travelers have a difficult time with streets and facilities not set up for wheelchairs or for the blind. Public buildings are legally required to be accessible, but at a recent tourism expo in Paris, promoters of tourism for disabled people say changes are slow. (Click on the photo to listen to the report) In this report: - Marie-France Jonte, Tourisme & Handicaps association that promotes tourism for people with disabilities, and...


A feminist's guide to Paris

Olympe de Gouge, Marie Curie, Simone de Beauvoir, Marguerite Durand, George Sand ... such women have contributed to the social, political and artistic development of Paris. But they don't pop up in your average guide book. The Guide de Voyage has changed that, giving women their rightful place in the history of the French capital. "As a tourist I never found the information I was looking for when I visited a country or city," says Charlotte Soulary. "And I wanted to know more about the women...


Black dolls, then and now

A exhibition in Paris of historical black dolls from the United States raises the question of black dolls today in France: Where can parents find toys that look like their children, if they are not white? And why does it matter? (Click on the photo to listen) Voices in this piece: - Carole, author Les Etoiles Noires (The black stars) blog about diversity in children's book - Mathilda, 10-year-old in Paris, who likes to play with black Barbies - Nora Philippe, filmmaker, and currator of Black...