Can The French Still Afford To Eat Their Own Food?

Aside from wine sales, the French agricultural sector is struggling to compete with cheaper, more intensively-farmed goods from overseas—are French people finding it difficult to buy French food?

France is incredibly protective of its agricultural sector—it has been the sticking point between France and the U.S. in the negotiation of their new trade agreement, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).  President Donald Trump has been threatening to increase tariffs on French food as a result of France not agreeing to include the agricultural sector in the trading agreements (France wants only non-auto “industrial goods” included and specifically not meat, fruit or wine).

Part of the problem is that France is resistant to allowing food to be mass-produced or intensively farmed; it wants to preserve the traditional ways of farming, of which it is proud. This means though, that food is much cheaper when it is produced by farmers in other European countries who don’t adhere to as strict agricultural standards as the French.

Christiane Lambert, chairwoman of the French Farmers’ Union reported in The Times, that President Emmanuel Macron’s approach to agriculture was pricing French food out of the market. “He told us to go upmarket but in the first six months of this year we imported a lot more poultry from Poland and Germany because it is cheaper,” she said. It has come to the point when French people cannot afford to buy their own food.

The deficit to the French economy is about €300 million, but many believe it’s a worrying sign and a marker of the health of the agricultural sector in general—even French cheese is suffering as consumers are increasingly turning to cheese from Ireland or the Netherlands (the growth appears to be in more “industrially-produced” cheeses for pizza toppings).

The only part of the food and drinks sector which is buoyant is the alcohol industry, where sales of wine and cognac are still far outselling imports, notably due to a huge increase of sales in the U.S and China of French wine. The French government reported in May that this success might be masking a more dire warning for the French agricultural sector in general.

Source FORBES: Can The French Still Afford To Eat Their Own Food?

Send in the clowns – and send me, too!

By: Michael Stevenson

My wife Linda and I enjoyed such a wonderful vacation in France this past month.

We began our trip in Paris’ Butte-aux-Cailles neighborhood in the underappreciated 13th arrondissement. Butte-aux-Cailles was a pleasant surprise, with its amazing street art, local bistros, and funky bars. We had a groovy night of Afro-Pop and dancing the evening of the Fete de Musique!

Next we took a train to Avignon where we rented a car to drive to the seaside village of Cassis. This was perfect timing, as the temperatures climbed over 110 degrees. We cooled ourselves with an ocean swim and boat ride through Cassis’ beautiful calanques.

We then drove three hours north from Cassis to Vienne to attend their annual Jazz Festival. There, in the magnificent outdoor Theatre Antique, we watched a fantastic show performed by Canadian piano man Chilly Gonzales. We drove south again to our favorite village in Provence, Venasque, meeting-up with our friends Jim and Shirley, who are our neighbors back come in Rhode Island, USA.

It was in Venasque that I was fortunate to be introduced to “Compagnie Née au Vent,” in a street performance by the company’s two “clowns”/actors, Claire Néel and Alexandre Florent.

A bus crashes Cyrano and the clowns show their mercy

The two clowns, in character as “Bombyx” and “Luna”, performed scenes from the classic novel “Cyrano de Bergerac,” as well as skits from the Hollywood movies Dirty Dancing, Titanic, and (my favorite) the spaghetti scene from Disney’s Lady & the Tramp.

Walking through the winding streets of the tiny village, I loved every minute of their twilight performance.

It was hilarious, magical and unforgettable theater!

My only regret was that during the several requests for audience participation, I was too embarrassed by clumsy francaise to volunteer.

On the Compagnie Née au Vent website are these words from the beloved author Antoine de Saint-Exupéry:

“Make the dream devour your life and that life does not devour your dream”

Next summer, I promise to improve my French and to raise my hand to volunteer once invited to “send in the American clown!” C’est moi!

Massive increase in pickpocket crimes in Paris metro 

Paris Metro

Since the start of 2019, crime on Paris public transit has shot up, most from pickpockets, organised in groups who target tourists in metro cars. The Paris police prefecture has registered an increase of 33 per cent in the number of pickpocket crimes reported on the metro, RER and local trains.

The thieves’ methods are as varied as they are familiar. Groups, often of young women, get close to their victims, then leave as the train doors are close, a smartphone or wallet in hand. Or they bump into someone getting off a train, and take advantage of the confusion to slip a hand in an open bag or pocket.

While Parisians are used to keeping their bags close to them, visitors are less wary, and become targets.

Police have trouble apprehending the perpetrators, as over half are minors, which makes it difficult to prosecute them, or deport them, as many are foreigners.

Train drivers will often make their own announcements to warn passengers to hold onto their belongings if they see a pickpocket gang on the platform.

The RATP, which runs the Metro, has set up a way for victims to file a complaint directly in 49 stations, without going to the police, which allows for victims to quickly receive documents to provide to insurance companies or to ask for a replacement passport at an embassy.

Source: Massive increase in pickpocket crimes in Paris metro – France – RFI