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!

Worst of heatwave yet to come as France braces for ‘terrible’ Tuesday

France’s heatwave is set to continue, with the hottest weather yet expected on Monday and Tuesday across the country.On Monday, temperatures could soar up to around 40C according to France’s national weather agency Météo France. France’s met office has issued heatwave weather warnings for 67 departments out of 101 in France – a record first reached in June last year – and has warned against storms in the country’s southeast in the afternoon, Le Parisien reported.

“The heatwave continues tomorrow Monday, with very high temperatures which will be difficult to bear. Be careful of storms on the southeast in the afternoon with a risk of hail,” the weather forecaster wrote on Twitter.

On Monday, the hottest parts of France will be in the southwestern regions, with temperatures in some cities reaching 36C in Toulouse and 37C in Bordeaux.

On Tuesday, Paris and the country’s northeast and centre will be the most affected by the heat, with Lyon and Paris sweltering under 36C.

Meteorologist Guillaume Séchet, creator of the site meteo-paris.com, is referring to Tuesday as a “terrible day with 38-39C in Ile-de-France and highs of 40C around Bourges and Auxerre”.

There will be a gradual decline in temperatures in the south-east of France on Tuesday but it will remain very hot.

Fortunately, the mercury is expected to drop considerably by Wednesday and Thursday.

“All of a sudden, we will lose 10C in 24 hours in the North and return to a more normal 23 to 24 C in the second half of the week,” Guillaume Séchet told Le Parisien.

France’s scorching weather is also causing air pollution levels to soar.

On Monday, traffic is being reduced in both Lyon and Paris to cut down on the smog with cars belonging to the most polluting category of vehicles being banned.

Similar measures were taken for three days in Paris in July.

Speed limits have also been lowered throughout the Ile de France region around Paris and in the east of the country.

Like much of Europe, France has been hit by a heatwave over the past week – which is already turning into the third hottest since temperatures have been recorded.

Last week, four nuclear reactors were forced to close in order to avoid raising the temperature of rivers whose water is used to cool reactors and then returned.

On Saturday, the southern town of Béziers in the Hérault department reached 41.3C. It was the hottest day in France since a deadly heatwave in 2003, that killed thousands of elderly people.

Source: Worst of heatwave yet to come as France braces for ‘terrible’ Tuesday – The Local

Tired of the Côte d’Azur? France has 35 other named coastlines 

Name one French coastline. Great. Now name another. Can’t? Here are all 36.

Despite a number of recent high-profile terrorist attacks, France remains the world’s most visited country. The numbers are going up, in fact: last year, the French welcomed 89 million foreign tourists, 8% more than in 2016.

But how familiar are those visitors with the many splendors of France? Here’s a test: quickly, name your favorite French museum, city, wine region (1) and beach. Most likely answers: the Louvre, Paris, Bordeaux (or Burgundy) and the Côte d’Azur.

Hot and glamorous, the Côte d’Azur is the jewel in the crown of French seaside tourism. It’s also crowded and pricey. However, as this map shows, it’s just one of 36 named coastlines stretching along the country’s Atlantic and Mediterranean shores.

Commonly referred to in English as the French Riviera, the Côte d’Azur covers the eastern part of France’s Mediterranean coast. The term was coined by Stéphen Liégeard, who used it as the title for his 1887 book about his travels along the coast of the Provence in France and beyond, to Genoa in Italy. ‘Azure’ is the heraldic term for ‘blue’; he was perhaps inspired by his home département of Côte d’or (2). ‘Côte d’Azur’ quickly caught on, but only for the French part of the coast.

Hoping to emulate the success of their azure counterpart, many other French coasts were named soon thereafter, often after minerals, metals or colors (3). Each has its own particular history, climate, geography and charm. Below is a sample of some of the more remarkable stretches.

The Côte d’Opale (Opal Coast) was named in 1911 by local Édouard Lévêque, in homage to the region’s changeable light. Go here for two illustrious capes: Blanc-Nez (‘White Nose’) and Gris-Nez (‘Grey Nose’), the closest point between Europe and England, only 34 km (21 mi) from the white cliffs of Dover.

The Côte Fleurie (Flowered Coast) refers to the flowering apple trees in the interior. Dotting the coast are Deauville, Honfleur and other renowned seaside resorts – not forgetting Balbec, the fictional one from Proust’s A la recherche du temps perdu.

The beaches of the Cote de Nacre (Mother-of-pearl Coast) are better known by their D-Day code names: Gold, Juno and Sword.

The Baie du mont Saint-Michel (Bay of Mont Saint-Michel): A Unesco World Heritage site, this part of the Golf of Saint-Malo dividing Brittany from Normandy is dominated by the Mont Saint-Michel, a tidal island topped by a medieval abbey and pilgrimage site.[ . . . ]

Read full article at BIG THINK: Tired of the Côte d’Azur? France has 35 other named coastlines | Big Think