Macron and Le Pen to face off in crucial live TV election debate

Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen
Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen

Far-right challenger out to avoid repeat of 2017 ‘failure’ in two-and-a-half hour clash with incumbent

Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen will go head to head in a live TV debate on Wednesday night that could prove crucial in making up the minds of undecided voters four days before the French presidential runoff.

The high-stakes, two-and-a-half-hour confrontation, the only direct clash between the two candidates, has been a tradition of French presidential campaigns since 1974, often confirming or dashing electoral ambitions.

With recent polls giving Macron a lead of up to 12 points before Sunday’s vote, Le Pen will be keen not to reproduce the poorly prepared, muddled and aggressive performance that sealed her eventual defeat in 2017  [ . . . ]

Continue at source: Macron and Le Pen to face off in crucial live TV election debate | French presidential election 2022 | The Guardian

Musician Tim Dup on upcoming French election

by Tim Dup (translated)

We don’t love it when artists talk about politics, do we? With this being said, we can often thank them for converting their sensitivity to the concrete photograph of a time, to put words, to make them speak, from within, what they look around. I was a little hesitated before writing something in that order. And I am sure, because I know you, that you will be able to do the part of things with my creation, the one you follow me for, but who is still inherently connected to what I will tell you.

Since September, we take the road, every week, to come and meet you. Thousands of miles, different people in every room. All generations. Big cities, mediums, villages, crazy hybridism. Metropolis, small territories, urban areas, countryside, connected or sometimes more isolated. After every concert, it’s an hour and a half of meetings, to a little bit of who we are. Before each concert, there are regular meetings, with colleges, centers, young people, associations, clubs, schools, conservatives, high schools, high schools, impaired public. And all this makes me think that I’m starting to know a bit what France really looks like. And that everywhere, we are great, connected, with the same needs, and often the same desires. We are not that original. Sure, we are different, single, but our lives are quite the same. Even if we don’t have the same chances, that things separate us, we want good for each other. When I look at you, this wonderful audience is everything. There are especially all ages, so I can’t help but think that behind our families, there is a consciousness of tomorrow, the transmission, what we leave, what we build. This sentence transmitted from age to age, that my grandfather told me and you know, is exactly the opposite of the desire. Plant flowers, others will pick them for you.

This is the starting point; I’m relating this sentence: humanity has less than three years to reverse the curve of greenhouse gas emissions, who are responsible for climate change, if it wants to preserve a world livable. It seems little concrete, vertical, very intangible. But yet there it is. A reality. What do we do about it?

If you too have doubt before Sunday, I believe that out of respect for the essence of our existence, living, a small key to voting is to turn to a program that does not take it lightly. And there are only two, such programs.

Regardless of what is in my sense, makes a peaceful society.

Weather. Education. Culture. Health. Sustainable economy. Wake up.

The dam of social sacking, excessive neoliberalism, sufficiency, on one hand; the reproach on oneself, the hatred on the other, the populist and demagogical denial of what the world and this country looks like today, on the other side.

The world’s chaos only tends to multiply, exacerbated by the climate crisis. Migrations, energy tensions, territorial, social crisis, international conflicts, insecurity… In the end, I don’t know much, fundamentally, nor specifically, about these. I receive them, weigh them, understand them, but I’m not an expert, naturally. I’m not looking to teach lessons, I’ll be unable to. The networks are full of noise of opinions, and I have one.

But it seems obvious to me, that the media issues of this election cannot be discussed anyway, if we do not know, at last, that the fight for the living under all the rest. So there you go, I guess the contents of these words are imperfect. But please let’s take a shot of humility and empathy for each other and those around us before this first round. Let’s think about our parents, especially our children. To our humanities, this is what it is about first, because the planet has to do with our existence, it will be fine without us. Giving yourself the right and the duty to care, in every way. A bulletin, a prosecutor’s office, it’s simple, and it’s from our source.

Some thought tips here, that helped me make a decision, because it’s not obvious either, we agree.

On adore pas quand les artistes parlent de politique, n’est-ce pas? Ceci dit, on peut les remercier, souvent, de convertir de leur sensibilité la photographie concrète d’une époque, de mettre des mots, de faire parler, par leur intérieur, de ce qu’ils regardent autour. J’ai un peu hésité avant d’écrire quelque chose de cet ordre là. Et je suis sûr, parce que je vous connais, que vous saurez faire la part des choses avec ma création, celle pour laquelle vous me suivez, mais qui pourtant est intrinsèquement liée à ce je vais vous dire.

Depuis septembre, nous prenons la route, chaque semaine, pour venir à votre rencontre. Des milliers de kilomètres, des gens différents dans chaque salle. Toutes les générations. Des grandes villes, des moyennes, des villages, une hybridité folle. Des métropoles, des petits territoires, des zones urbaines, de campagne, connectées ou parfois plus esseulées. Après chaque concert, c’est une heure et demi de rencontres, à palper un peu qui nous sommes. Avant chaque concert, c’est aussi régulièrement des rencontres, avec des collèges, des centres, des jeunes, des associations, des clubs, des écoles, des conservatoires, des lycées, des publics empêchés. Et tout ceci me permet de penser que je commence un peu à savoir à quoi ressemble vraiment la France. Et que partout, nous sommes formidables, en lien, avec les mêmes besoins, et souvent les mêmes envies. Nous ne sommes pas si originaux. Bien-sûr, nous sommes différents, singuliers, mais nos vies se ressemblent pas mal. Même si nous n’avons pas les mêmes chances, que des choses nous séparent, nous nous voulons du bien. Quand je vous regarde, ce public merveilleux, il y a de tout. Il y a surtout de tous les âges, alors je ne peux m’empêcher de penser que derrière nos familles, existe une conscience de demain, de la transmission, de ce qu’on laisse, ce qu’on construit. Cette phrase transmise d’âge en âge, que mon grand-père m’a dite et que vous connaissez, est à l’exact opposé du dérisoire. Plante des fleurs, les autres les cueilleront pour toi.

Voilà le point de départ; Je relis cette phrase en boucle : l’humanité dispose de moins de trois années pour inverser la courbe des émissions de gaz à effet de serre, principales responsables du changement climatique, si elle veut conserver un monde vivable. Ça paraît peu concret, vertigineux, bien intangible. Mais pourtant c’est là. Une réalité. Qu’en fait-on?

Si vous aussi le doute vous habite avant dimanche, je crois que par respect pour l’essence de nos existences, du vivant, une petite clé pour aller voter est de se tourner vers un programme qui ne prend pas cela à la légère. Et il n’y en a que deux, de tels programmes.

Sans compter ce qui à mon sens, fait société pérenne.

Climat. Éducation. Culture. Santé. Économie soutenable. Éveil.

Le barrage au saccage social, néolibéralisme à outrance, la suffisance, d’un côté; le repli sur soi, la haine de l’autre, le déni populiste et démagogique d’à quoi ressemble aujourd’hui le monde et ce pays, d’un autre côté.

Les désordres du monde ne tendent qu’à se multiplier, exacerbés par la crise climatique. Migrations, tensions énergétiques, territoriales, crise sociale, conflits internationaux, insécurité… Je ne connais finalement pas grand chose, fondamentalement, ni précisément, à ces sujets. Je les reçois, les pèse, les comprends, mais n’en suis pas expert, naturellement. Je ne cherche pas à donner de leçons, j’en serais incapable. Les réseaux se chargent du bruit des opinions, et j’en ai une.

Mais il me paraît évident, que les enjeux médiatisés de ces élections ne pourront de toute façon être discutés, si l’on ne saisit pas, enfin, que la lutte pour le vivant sous-tend tout le reste. Alors voilà, j’imagine que la teneur de ces mots est imparfaite. Mais s’il nous plaît, reprenons un shot d’humilité et d’empathie pour l’autre et ce qui nous entoure avant ce premier tour. Repensons à nos parents, et surtout à nos enfants. À nos humanités, c’est de ça dont il s’agit d’abord, car la planète n’a que faire de notre existence, elle s’en démerdera bien sans nous. Se donner le droit et le devoir de prendre soin, à tous les égards. Un bulletin, une procuration, c’est simple, et c’est de notre ressort.

Quelques pistes de réflexion ici, qui m’ont aidé à prendre une décision, car elle n’est pas évidente non plus, nous sommes d’accord.

Hans Zimmer & Ukrainian musicians on tour

Film music for peace: On March 11, 2022, Hans Zimmer went on tour across Europe with a large orchestra, performing music from his most popular films as well as more recent compositions. Ten musicians from the Odessa National Opera, who managed to flee to Germany from the war in Ukraine, are taking part. Originally, the film music tour was planned to include the entire Odessa Opera Orchestra. But after Russia attacked Ukraine on the morning of February 24, 2022, most of the Odessa Opera Orchestra musicians were unable to leave the country. These ten musicians were able to flee from Ukraine, passing by many European cities on their long odyssey to escape the war. They encountered a lot of support and willingness to help on their escape. Their missing Ukrainian colleagues are now being covered by fellow musicians from all over Europe who play in the concerts. This turns the tour, which was supposed to celebrate Hans Zimmer’s grand film music, into a show of solidarity with these ten Ukrainian musicians who were able to flee, and for the entire Odessa Opera Orchestra. Hans Zimmer’s music connects people across borders – a project that provides some much-needed hope.

Film music excerpts from: (00:00)

House Atreides (from the official soundtrack of Dune/2021) (01:55)

Themyscira (from the official soundtrack of Wonder Woman 1984/2020) (05:06)

Mombasa (from the official soundtrack of Inception/2010)

The Paris Bicycle Boom- Cycling in the French Capital

While Paris has not been known as a cycle-friendly city, all that is changing, with some 50km of bike lanes added in the past few months alone. Here, Caroline Harrap reports on the new craze that is sweeping the capital

March 2021

It’s rush hour on the rue de Rivoli – the iconic thoroughfare that stretches through the heart of Paris – and, for a moment, the only sound to be heard is the dinging of bells. Where once this major artery would have been teeming with traffic, it is now dominated by bicycles. Other than a section of the street reserved for buses, taxis and emergency vehicles, here the cyclist is king.

It marks the culmination of a major change in urban policy for Paris, a city which has, historically, always had a love affair with the motorcar. But since Anne Hidalgo was elected Mayor of Paris in 2014, she has set about transforming the city into a world cycling capital, with an investment of more than €150m and the aim of doubling the number of bike lanes.

This policy was further boosted by the public transport strikes of late 2019 – and then, of course, along came Covid. With many people keen to cycle, rather than risk crowded transport, and others wanting new ways to keep fit, Hidalgo ushered in some 50km of pop-up bike lanes across the city. Nicknamed coronapistes, these segregated cycleways were an immediate hit and are now a permanent fixture.

“Cycling has become an essential part of life in Paris, especially in recent years, thanks to the commitment of the mayor,” says Corinne Menegaux, who is the director of the Paris office of tourism. “We already had more than 1,000km of cycling infrastructure, and much more has been rolled out since the health crisis, to enable Parisians and visitors to get around the streets of the capital safely. Bike tours, organised, for example, by Paris à Vélo or Paris Bike Tours, are also a real opportunity to discover Paris differently in a leisurely and fun way. And not forgetting that cycling forms part of our policy of soft mobility for a greener and more sustainable city.”

While there may be some way to go before catching up with cities such as Amsterdam and Copenhagen, things are definitely on the right track – and the figures speak for themselves. According to some sources, the number of cyclists in Paris has increased by almost 70 per cent since last spring.

Furthermore, it is estimated that up to 15 per cent of all trips in the capital are now made by bicycle – a figure that is borne out by the city’s bike rental scheme. Just a few weeks ago, the Vélib’ Métropole, to use its proper name, broke all previous records with some 209,000 rides in one day. The milestone of 400,000 subscribers has also been passed.

Then there was the government’s bike-repair scheme (now ended), through which €50 could be claimed towards the cost of keeping your bicycle on the road, and there was also a subsidy available for some new models. Sales in the last few months have soared, with sports retailer Decathlon reporting record figures.

Leading the Way

The bicycle boom is real,” a spokesman for the brand confirmed. “This is an observation that we have been making for some time – especially since the transport strikes – though the enthusiasm for cycling has been visible since 2018. More recently, the development of the cycle paths made many more people want to get on their bikes to go to work and run errands etc. The bonus of €50, the good weather during the first confinement and the fear of taking public transport also explain the phenomenon.”

Not surprisingly, the popularity in cycling is something that has been seen in many places since the pandemic. Better for the environment, it helps particularly in reducing air pollution – a factor known to worsen the symptoms of Covid. It’s also good for public health more generally.

What is more, cycling helps to connect people with their local neighbourhoods in a way that cars and public transport cannot. And, with less traffic on the road, it creates a better quality of life for everyone.

However, while many cities have embraced the trend, Paris has been at the forefront. Since the pandemic, it has implemented more cycle lanes than anywhere else in Europe, if the suburbs are included too. Then there’s the city’s car-free Sundays, in which several sectors are closed to traffic, as well as the areas where cars are banned altogether.

“There is no doubt that Paris stands out as a model to other European cities of what can be achieved,” says Morten Kabell, co-CEO of the European Cyclists’ Federation (ECF), which promotes cycling as a sustainable and healthy means of transportation. “The vision of the city’s leaders is unique in terms of the depth and coherence of its cycling policy. In the past, there were those who would say, well, yes, we can see how a mid-size city such as Copenhagen can achieve what it has, but the challenge is too great for a larger city. Now, though, we have seen a major metropolis decide to transform itself – and this sets a great example to others.”

So, if you’re trying cycling for the first time in the French capital, what do you need to know? Well, the good news is, not only is Paris relatively flat but it is also comparatively small. This means that as well as seeing all the central monuments by bicycle, you can easily cross the entire city. In terms of safety, while helmets are only compulsory for under-12s, they are strongly recommended. Also, cyclists must adhere to the French equivalent of the UK’s Highway Code, so have a read in advance. Last but not least, if you’ve never cycled in Paris before, it is quite an experience. It’s not uncommon to see people hurtling along hands-free – phone in one hand, cigarette in the other. However, you soon get the hang of things.

“There are so many people cycling now,” says musician Josephine Hall, who lives in the 16th arrondissement and bought her bicycle last summer. “It’s amazing the things you see. There are people who wear stereo speakers around their neck so you hear the music coming. There are grannies with all the protective flashing gear you can imagine. There are cyclists with umbrellas – and I even had to dodge a baguette the other day. It’s such a diverse look at life.”

Just a few final words of advice before planning your post-pandemic cycle trip. Bike theft in Paris is a problem, so it’s important to have a secure lock.

Alternatively, if you’re planning on renting, the Vélib’ is a great option – but it’s a good idea to familiarise yourself with the process first. Also, there are some streets which don’t have bike lanes, where even the most seasoned cyclists prefer not to venture, so, it’s best to plan out your route before setting off.

A Greener Future

“Here in Paris, we were starting from quite a difficult place, as it’s a densely populated city with heavy traffic,” says Alexis Frémeaux, president of Mieux se Déplacer à Bicyclette (MDB), the leading cycling association in the Île-de-France region. “So, there is still a lot of work to do.

“However, we have also seen real change over the past few years with the creation of new segregated cycle lanes – and the possibility to cross Paris from north to south and east to west.

“Now, with the new additional 50km of bike paths, this is a huge step in the right direction – and, hopefully, it’s just the beginning.”

Looking ahead, the outlook for cycling in the city certainly seems positive. As France Today went to press, Hidalgo had just announced a new scheme to reduce on-street parking spaces by around half. There are also more cycle lanes to come.

So, who knows? Perhaps Paris could become the new Amsterdam. Back on the rue de Rivoli, amid the soothing whir of wheels, it certainly feels that way.

Top Tip! [Sidebar]

“For a really beautiful bike ride, you can cycle all the way from the Eiffel Tower to Notre-Dame in a dedicated cycle lane,” says Paris cycling expert Alexis Frémeaux. “Following the Left Bank, you get lovely panoramic views over the Seine – and it’s a wonderful way to see the city.”

Capital to the Coast

A brand-new 420km cycleway now connects the capital and the Normandy coast. Named ‘La Seine à Vélo’, the route follows the river through several different départements. Among the highlights are the Notre-Dame cathedral in Paris, street art on the Saint-Denis canal, Monet’s garden in Giverny, the historic city of Rouen and the Normandy beaches.

From France Today magazine

Source: The Paris Bicycle Boom | Cycling in the French Capital