THREE people who went missing on a drunken late-night visit to the Paris catacombs have been rescued by police after spending two days lost underground.
The two men and a woman, all in their early twenties, were in a group of five who decided to have a party in the vast underground cemetery on Tuesday night.
They became separated from the rest of the group and tried to find their way out but ended up heading deeper into the network of tunnels.
Six teams of police officers were sent to find them, returning to the surface at regular intervals because there is no radio signal.
The missing party-goers were found, tired and suffering from shock. They each face a fine of €135 for trespassing.
The bones of more than six million Parisians from the 18th and 19th centuries are held in the catacombs. They were moved there after the city’s cemeteries became overcrowded.
Only a small part of the catacombs are open to the public, but secret entrances exist throughout the city that are used by urban explorers and party organisers.
McDonald’s launches a new attempt to woo the French where it hurts: la baguette. Starting in September, McDonald’s will sell fresh bread with breakfast. Baguette sandwiches are also on the books for 2012.
The famed hamburgers chain is getting set to revolutionize the fast-food world by introducing baguette on its menu. Starting in September, clients will be able to enjoy breakfast “à la française”: butter and jam spread on fresh bread will be available in all 130 of the company’s McCafé shops, which have separate counters offering coffee, pastries and other baked goods. In the first semester of 2012, McDonald’s will push the experiment further by introducing a baguette-based sandwich. McDonald’s will bet on very accessible prices to compete against France’s more than 34,587 bakeries.
The Holder Group, which owns the Paul bakeries and the famous Ladurée stores, will supply the bread. The company already supplies pastries and other baked goods to France’s McCafé stores. “For the first 15 years, from 1980, what we did above all was offer people a slice of America,” said Nawfal Trabelsi, senior vice president for McDonald’s operations in France and southern Europe. “Nowadays, we are part of the everyday lives of French people. Our priority is to integrate locally and mix our traditional offer of hamburgers and ice-creams with French culture, all the while inventing new forms of sandwiches. The French are passionate about bread and crazy about baguettes. We are progressively responding to a demand which is already there.” According to the Gira Council cabinet, the French eat nine times more sandwiches than hamburgers. More than 60 per cent of sandwiches sold in France are made with baguette.
A new generation of sandwiches
By baking fresh bread in the morning, McDonald’s hopes to spike its breakfast offer while improving its image. “You’ll smell the fresh bread as soon as you come in,” said Isabelle Kuster, vice president for McDonald’s operations in France and southern Europe. Starting in September, the McCafé stores will offer little individual bread flutes, sold in twos with a portion of butter and a little pot of jam (apricot, raspberry and orange), produced traditionally in the Pyrénées mountains. “Our bread is baked on site all day long.” said Kuster. “We want to always sell it warm. » Already 25 per cent of McCafé transactions take place in the morning, with most of the stores opening between 7 and 8 a.m. Yet breakfasts account for less than one per cent of McDonald’s sales. “Doubling sales would be marvellous,” said Kuster.
The very symbolic addition of the baguette to McDonald’s menu fits into a larger strategy of adapting to French eating habits while working with local suppliers. In 2009, the chain introduced a whole wheat Big Mac hamburger. In January, it launched the McCantal, with French cheese, and in the end of February, the Charolais, with French meat. “At McDonald’s, we’re constantly trying to reinvent ourselves,” said Trabelsi. “Diversifying the bread offer is at the heart of our product evolution strategy.” Since May, McDonald’s also offers the McWrap, made to order in a big flat pancake. France is the second country after Austria to bet on this new generation of sandwiches which completes the offer of hamburgers and salads. First results have exceeded expectations. In two months, more than 50 per cent of clients have tasted them once and 75 per cent made it a repeat experience.
Mayor (PS) of La Seyne-sur-Mer (Var) Vuillemot Marc, who is fighting for months for the maintenance of motherhood in her town, left Monday morning to bike to Paris where he intends to file with the Department of Health a petition of 20,000 signatures.
“Since its inauguration in 1995, the maternity center is classified as a mother and child. Today, despite its 1400 annual births, the regional health agency wants to close it in the future project Territorial Health Var, which we condemn, “he told AFP Vuillemot M., riding an electric bike.
Despite the early hour, hundreds of people gathered on the waterfront, across from City Hall, to encourage him in his journey of 950 km, behind a banner on which was written “Together in defense of the public hospital. No to the closure of the maternity hospital in La Seyne-sur-Mer. “
Some, including elected officials, political activists and trade unionists, agents of hospital services, even with the bike all the way to the maternity ward where he made a symbolic stop.
Tricolor and telephone on the handlebars, Marc Vuillemot, accompanied by two motor homes, hoping to arrive Aug. 16 in Paris, where he settled in a camp, after staying in 15 cities in phases. In the capital, he will advocate for the defense of public services.
He hopes to raise on his way to new signatures: it is already expected in Cavaillon (Vaucluse), Auxerre and Sens (Yonne).
Only unknown in this approach: he does not know to whom he will present his petition to the Ministry of Health on August 17. “Maybe the concierge,” he joked.
Motherhood La Seyne-sur-Mer, whose transfer to the new hospital intercommunal Toulon was passed by the board despite the opposition of city, is equipped with 20 beds and four breakout rooms. It is located in a catchment population estimated at 200,000 people.
The mayors of various right-Saint Mandrier, Ollioules and Sanary-sur-Mer support the movement of motherhood alongside personalities whose analyst Boris Cyrulnik.
In April, during a national day of mobilization against the government’s health policy, more than a thousand people had formed an H (eg hospital) to say no to the closure of maternity.
Well, maybe you don’t, but here it is anyway.
At Monday’s ministerial cabinet meeting, the last before the start of the summer holidays, President Sarkozy wished his team a “good rest” while reminding them to stay “particularly alert.”
A spokesman for the Elysée palace, the president’s official residence, said “ministers must be available 24 hours a day. They are able to rest, but not be on holiday.”
Foreign minister Alain Juppé confirmed this, telling waiting camera crews as he left the meeting that the president had wished them “happy holidays, but stay in contact with your ministry morning, noon and night.”
Nicolas Sarkozy has also instructed his team to stay in France this year. The president himself has been criticized in the past for foreign vacations, particularly in 2007 when he took a holiday in the US with his then wife Cécilia.
While most have obeyed the order, three members of his team have dared to flout it.
Like his British counterpart, David Cameron, the prime minister, François Fillon, will be in Tuscany in Italy. Higher education minister Laurent Wauquiez will go to Belgium. He defended his choice by saying he is “a quarter Belgian.”
Industry minister Eric Besson was reluctant to say where he was going, writing on his Twitter account “I refuse to say where I’m going. Right to private life. Respect for those close to me.” However, newspaper France Soir reported that he would be in Tunisia with his wife’s family.
The president’s more obedient ministers will be dotted around the country, with parliamentary party leader Jean-François Copé and health and employment minister Xavier Bertrand venturing off the mainland to visit Corsica.
The president and his wife are able to enjoy the luxurious surroundings of the presidential palace at Fort Bregançon, where they have already spent several weekends this summer. They are also expected to visit his wife’s summer home in the southern resort of Cap Nègre.
For the Socialists, the summer is an important campaigning time as they gear up for primary elections in October to choose the contender for next year’s presidential election.
Former party leader, Martine Aubry, is already in Brittany where she has been photographed several times making appearances at local markets.
Her rival François Hollande is in the south-west town of Landes with his partner Valérie Trieweiler.
Hollande’s former wife and 2007 presidential contender, Ségolène Royal, will be in the region where she is president, Poitou-Charentes. “It will be a serious holiday as I need to read the proofs of the book I have coming out in September,” she told France Soir.
On the right, Marine Le Pen’s break in the family home of Trinité-sur-Mer in southern Brittany has already been disturbed several times as she deals with fallout from comments by party members about the recent killings in Norway.
Government ministers will all be expected back in Paris by August 24th for the next planned cabinet meeting.
A new blog in French that will last until the end of the summer about the history (or histories !) of Paris through iconic photos like this one.
The Grand Rex in 1945 removing the “Soldatenkino” sign that was added by the Germans during the occupation.
NICE, France |
(Reuters) - A professional diver working in the harbour at the French Riviera port of Saint-Tropez saw a large shark swim by him three times over the weekend, local newspaper Var-Matin reported Monday. Nicolas Faucon told the newspaper he was underwater untangling the anchor chains of boats moored at Saint-Tropez, a glitzy Mediterranean holiday spot, when a two-metre-long (6 foot) shark glided past him at arm’s length. “A shark passed by 50 cm (20 inches) from me. I am 100 percent sure of it,” Faucon told the paper, as tens of thousands of French holidaymakers descended upon Riviera beaches for the start of the annual August vacation. “It didn’t seem aggressive. It looked at me, and then changed direction,” Faucon said. Riviera holidaymakers include President Nicolas Sarkozy and his pregnant wife Carla Bruni, who arrived Monday in Cap Negre — an easy swim from Saint-Tropez for a shark. Faucon made a swift exit, but said he saw the shark again when he went back underwater an hour later, and he spotted it again, further away, the following day. Occasional shark scares have caused beaches to be briefly closed in past years on the French Mediterranean, but attacks are extremely rare. According to an online shark attack log kept by the U.S. Shark Research Institute, the vast majority of shark attacks occur off the United States, Australia and South Africa.
(Reuters) - A professional diver working in the harbour at the French Riviera port of Saint-Tropez saw a large shark swim by him three times over the weekend, local newspaper Var-Matin reported Monday.
Nicolas Faucon told the newspaper he was underwater untangling the anchor chains of boats moored at Saint-Tropez, a glitzy Mediterranean holiday spot, when a two-metre-long (6 foot) shark glided past him at arm’s length.
“A shark passed by 50 cm (20 inches) from me. I am 100 percent sure of it,” Faucon told the paper, as tens of thousands of French holidaymakers descended upon Riviera beaches for the start of the annual August vacation.
“It didn’t seem aggressive. It looked at me, and then changed direction,” Faucon said.
Riviera holidaymakers include President Nicolas Sarkozy and his pregnant wife Carla Bruni, who arrived Monday in Cap Negre — an easy swim from Saint-Tropez for a shark.
Faucon made a swift exit, but said he saw the shark again when he went back underwater an hour later, and he spotted it again, further away, the following day.
Occasional shark scares have caused beaches to be briefly closed in past years on the French Mediterranean, but attacks are extremely rare.
According to an online shark attack log kept by the U.S. Shark Research Institute, the vast majority of shark attacks occur off the United States, Australia and South Africa.
It’s 10 past noon on the first wednesday of the month and the air raid sirens are ringing all over France.
Oddly enough, when I was younger, I never noticed them. It’s only when I started working (I work for the gendarmerie, the military police force - maybe I shouldn’t say it) that I really heard them.
The video shows you what the signal sounds like.
Why not the Paris surburbs ?
Tourists who want to see more of Paris than just the classic city centre sites are being invited to take trips to some of the city’s more notorious suburbs.
A group of ‘greeters’ has been set up in Seine-Saint-Denis, made up of locals who are willing to show tourists around their areas.
Seine-Saint-Denis sits to the north of Paris and is home to 1.5 million people. It has one of the greatest concentrations of immigrants in France.
It is also well known as the place where the death of two youths in the autumn of 2005 sparked nationwide riots that lasted several weeks.
However, locals are keen to shake off this image and point out many of the area’s attractions, including the home of the 1998 World Cup final, the Stade de France, and the 12th century Cathedral Basilica of Saint Denis.
“There shouldn’t be this barrier between a Paris that is magnificent and the suburbs which are not,” said Michel Moisan, a 59-year old former pharmaceutical worker who has been giving tours for a year.
Newspaper 20 Minutes spoke to two American tourists, Jane and Michaël Gessner from Arizona.
“When we told the concierge at our hotel where we were going, he said ‘don’t go to the suburbs, they’re dangerous’!” said Jane. “But look, it’s great.”
“It’s completely different to what we’ve seen in Paris,” said Michael, who said he was impressed by the “diversity of the people.”
Hélène Sallet-Lavorel works for Tourisme 93 which promotes the area and said the area has already received around 50 visits, mostly from foreign tourists.
“The greeters show the area as it really is. It’s not just an area of high unemployment or the place where the riots happened. The people who live here are much more positive and are proud of their town and their area,” she said.
The organization Parisien d’un Jour, which has 240 greeters in total, hopes to extend its tours to other suburbs of the city.
A young cannabis user in Nice thought he had found a safe place to stash five kilograms of the drug - reportedly to keep it safe for his dealer - by hiding it inside his sister’s teddy bear.
Following a tip-off, police arrived at the 17-year old’s home to search for the drug. The unlikely weight of the offending bear made them suspicious. On opening it up, they discovered the cache.
Local newspaper Nice Matin reported it took a matter of hours for police to track down the drug dealer involved. He has already been taken into custody.
The 17-year old is reported to have admitted hiding the drug in exchange for some to use himself and will face charges at a later date.
Anything can be turned into art in France.
The Smurfs movie was released today (Wednesday) in the country.
If you’re a fan of the little blue men and you happen to be in Paris in August, you might want to see this exhibition at the Espace Artcurial on the Champs-Elysées.
I personally DON’T want to see the movie, but I’m quite interested in the exhibition.
A total of 101 members of parliament have been fined for missing parliamentary committee meetings, according to a report from the Regards Citoyens pressure group.
A law in 2009 stipulated that any MP who failed to give advance warning of absence from the meetings would be fined after missing two of the sessions. MPs are expected to pay up to €355 for each missed meeting.
The lower house of the French parliament, the Assemblée Nationale, has eight permanent committees (known as commissions) covering subjects including foreign affairs and public finances. The membership of the committees reflects the balance of parties in the chamber and they meet most Wednesday mornings.
The president of the Assemblée Nationale confirmed that “20 to 30 MPs are fined each month,” but declined to give names.
However, the Regards Citoyens group has published the full list on its site nosdeputes.fr for the 2010-2011 session. The total of all fines comes to €95,140.
Top of the list is Patrick Balkany, an MP with Nicolas Sarkozy’s UMP party. He missed all 33 of his committee’s meetings, landing a fine of €4,615. Newspaper Le Parisien reported that he admitted being fined but contested the amount claimed.
Balkany told the newspaper “during this session I’ve missed a certain number of meetings before and after my operation and I’m still convalescing.”
A total of six MPs missed all their committee meetings, including the leader of the UMP group in parliament, Jean-François Copé and Socialist primary contender Arnaud Montebourg.
Montebourg’s opponent in the race to win the party’s nomination to be its presidential candidate, François Hollande, missed 15 of his committee meetings and incurred a €1,065 fine.
As for the MPs who attended most meetings, it seems that having the name Jean is a sign of good behaviour. The top three attendees, missing just 14 meetings out of a total 97 were, in order of merit, Jean-Yves Le Bouillonec (Socialist party), Jean-Louis Christ (UMP) and Jean-Paul Lecoq (Communist party).
A car park in Marseille has been overrun by gangs of youths who threaten staff and demand money from drivers. Things have got so bad that the company in charge, Vinci, has given up trying to run it.
The car park, known as the Parking Jules Guesda, is situated in Porte d’Aix, a well-known trouble spot in Marseille.
Local newspaper La Provence reports that the problem started in late 2010 when a group of youths started arriving after the car park’s staff went home.
They would demand payment of €5 from drivers as they tried to leave the car park, only lifting the barrier when money had been handed over.
Since then reports of violence and intimidation have worsened. Automatic payment machines have frequently been set on fire. Drivers have been mugged while heading to their cars. Other criminals have moved in and conditions in the car park have deteriorated.
La Provence quotes Alain Dulion who said he was mugged close to his car. “I had been clothes shopping when someone came up behind me and grabbed my gold chain.” Alain even tried to take advantage of the services of the gang running the car park, by asking one of the men lifting the barrier to find his attacker. “I offered him €500 if he could find the thief,” he said, although he has not had any success.
Vinci claims to have registered “20 complaints” to the city authorities. The company told the newspaper that “no-one did anything … we are a company that runs car parks, not a law enforcement agency”
“There are lots of dangerous people in this area,” the area’s mayor, Lisette Narducci, told La Provence. “I’m very worried. Things are getting worse and I’m ashamed to think this is France’s second city. If the city authorities don’t do anything, things will never get better.”
Newspaper Le Figaro reported a spokesman for the city authorities, Eugène Caselli, sa saying the situation had become “impossible.” On Wednesday, he announced that security would be stepped up in an effort to regain control of the car park again by the start of September.
We have a saying in France. This saying is : “In France, we have the dumbest Right in the world.”
And it seems to get dumber and dumber…
A politician with the centre-right UMP party near Nice found others didn’t get the joke when he sent a ‘humorous’ email mocking the North African accent.
Gilbert Garelli, a local councillor in La Colle-sur-Loup in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region, sent the email to a group of 20 friends.
The offending missive was sent on August 1st, the first day of Ramadan, and mis-spelled certain words to mimic the accent.
It ended with the line “I wish you a good Ramadan”, with “I wish” written as “ji souhaite” rather than the correct “je souhaite.”
He attached a copy of his Socialist party opponents’ programme to the email, in Arabic, adding “remember to read it from right to left!”
A large number of the recipients reacted with horror. A fellow party member, Corinne Guidon, told local newspaper Nice Matin it was not “her kind of humour.”
“It was just a joke,” Garelli initially told the newspaper but, as the scandal grew, he apologized publicly for his poor taste and sent a conciliatory email to the original recipients.
The mayor of Nice, Christian Estrosi, didn’t see the funny side and has instructed his team to take action.
“This is no laughing matter,” Pascal Condomiti, an advisor to the mayor, told Le Figaro newspaper. “We will be meeting about this and will probably suspend him from the party.”