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French News

French Week August 6 - 12, 2010

At a glance

The return of the Prince

 Road deaths down

The President of France has been on a state visit to Andorra as its co-Prince

 Beware the cow


 Saint-Gervais under water


There have been two cases of cows attacking hikers in the Eastern Pyrénées this week. A 37-year-old woman was seriously injured and trampled. Her husband found her unconscious. In a separate incident, a man was flown to hospital with a fractured skull in Perpignan. Police explained that when cows are with their calves they can be aggressive and should be avoided.

ast year he was all set to abdicate. This year he is “proud” to be the historic joint ruler, with the Bishop of Urgell, of this tiny mountain-top principality tucked away in the Pyrénées between the Ariège and Spain. The cause of his threatened departure from the throne was the apparent ambition of the Andorrans to become a dodgy tax haven on France’s doorstep.

A vast pocket of water of 65,000m3 has built up under the Tête Rousse glacier above Saint-Gervais in the HauteSavoie near Mont Blanc. The maire and the préfet spoke to the assembled 3,000 residents and warned them of the hazard. The surprise build-up of water was found accidentally by researchers from France’s centre of scientific research, the CNRS. Pumping is to start in two weeks time to remove the danger. In 1892, a similar build-up burst and flooded down the mountain, killing 200 people.

The old quarters of Andorra

 Journalist assaulted

 Sacked due to late trains

A 24-year-old lawyer’s assistant has lost her job because the trains were late. Soazig Parassols was in her second trial period of a month and had to be in the office by nine without fail because she was the avocat’s only secretary. But the trains from her home to Lyon were often late and therefore so was she. She tried catching an earlier train which meant she was usually in the office 50 minutes early. But another arrival an hour and ten minutes late was too much for her employer who fired her. She is now going to sue the SNCF for breach of contract. The Fédération nationale des associations d’usagers de transport is to give evidence on her behalf.

 Sex improves circulation

Short of a good scandal nothing sells newspapers like sex. Still it comes as some surprise to find the once worthy and dignified ‘Le Figaro’, bastion of right-wing values, putting a series of pictures of various animals and insects, from our cousins the Bonobo to lions and butterflies, all in the act of procreation. The paper informs us that summer opens “des parades amoureuses”… and relishes the opportunity “to lift the veil on the intimate nature of savage love”.

 Savoie to join Switzerland?

Last March, Swiss MP Dominique Baettig proposed that Switzerland should annex various neighbouring frontier provinces in Germany, France, Italy and Austria, thereby effortlessly creating a country of 24 million people. Everybody laughed. However, when this week an opinion poll of the residents of the départements of Savoie and Haute-Savoie revealed that 48% would like to leave France and join a Greater Switzerland the French authorities did not think it was quite so funny. Similar results emerged in other countries. An embarrassed Swiss Federal Council refuted the proposition as “an unfriendly political act” that Switzerland’s neighbours could regard as provocative.


Two men attacked an American reporter in the Cité des musiciens, Les Mureaux in the Yvelines on the outskirts of Paris. The reporter was investigating the integration of minorities in the French inner cities for an Evangelical newspaper. He was sprayed with gas, hit on the head, kicked and robbed; his camera, video camera and portable computer were stolen. The men also attacked his two French colleagues. The 50-year-old American victim was taken to the nearest hospital, “stunned but not unconscious” according to ‘Le Parisien’.

banks to reveal details of accounts held (on request only) and the search for an alternative source of revenue is on. Tourism, particularly skiing, has done well. Some of the resorts are at 2,000m. There is no question of a return to the early post-war years when Andorra was a poor farming community making a bit of money on the side smuggling. But the collapse of the property boom has hit hard. Prince Sarkozy pointed the way ahead when he congratulated his people on their progress on the tax evasion front: “The progress you have achieved is considerable. No one can object to competitive taxation. Tax fraud is something else,” he stressed.

In the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s, when Andorra was a VAT-free shopping destination on the borders of the European Union, the shoppers – and the money – poured in. The booming hamlet of Pas de la Case on the French frontier began to look like Las Vegas lost in the peaks. Now, since Spain joined the European Union, that advantage has largely evaporated. Andorrans have been looking for a way to preserve their prosperous life style ever since. Banking secrecy encouraged tax dodgers to park their money at altitude. But now the campaign against tax havens has forced the Andorran

French bank charges under fire


wo new reports, one European and one French, have criticised French banks for their high and opaque charges. France is one of the most expensive countries in Europe in which to run a bank account. Minister of Finance Christine Lagarde is proposing immediate improvements. She wants the 10 most common charges highlighted at the top of the often obscure charges documents. She is also calling on all the banks to use the same summary of charges in a form that is easy to understand and to compare. Most important, she told ‘Aujourd’hui en France’, she is urging the banks to reduce charges for exceeding overdraft limits and bounced cheques. The minister has


Although road death numbers were static between 2008 and 2009 they fell sharply in the first quarter of 2010, down 10.6% on figures for the same period in 2009.

Finance Minister Christine Lagarde

proposed a paquet sécuritaire that would put a ceiling on what a bank can charge in such circumstances. The charge should not exceed €5 and in

any event should be reduced by 50% from present levels. Also under attack are the package charges providing facilities that customers do not want. Customers should be able to choose which ones they want to pay for. Consumer organisation UFC-Que Choisir is not satisfied. A spokesperson agreed that the minister was moving in the right direction but claimed: “To trust the banks to give undertakings to improve and stick to them is like asking a deaf person to listen.” A brief survey by French Week indicates that the Banque Postale charges the least overall. And as it is owned by the government it can’t go bust.

Réunion gets Unesco rating


nesco has recognised 40% of the French island of Réunion as a world heritage site, the 35th for France. The island is 700km east of Madagascar. The area chosen is the same as the National Park first set up in 2007. The award says: “Unesco recognises that the totality of the park presents a spectacular landscape which makes a significant contribution to world biodiversity.”

Sud-Ouest Picines 37 years of experience

The park boasts 370 plants found nowhere else on earth. It is an astonishing collection of volcanic peaks, cliffs hundreds of metres high and plunging valleys some only accessible on foot or by helicopter. The island is only 2,500km2 but reaches a height of 3,070m at the Piton des Neiges. A third of the island is as it was when first settled by Europeans in the 1500s. Originally known as the



The Gorges of the Bras de Caverne, island of Réunion

Île Bourbon, it has been French since 1642.

ARTECH and its new-look pool covers


New display Permanent exhibition unique in the 132, av. de La Roque - Z.A. La Nauve - 24100 CREYSSE Te05 53 74 54 00 - Fax:05 53 74 54 09 South of France

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