34 minutes | Jun 1, 2023
Podcast: Conserving a martyred village, abortion drug shortages, identifying HIV
The village of Oradour-sur-Glane continues to memorialise the massacre of 643 of its inhabitants by the Nazis in 1944. Are shortages of an abortion drug in France linked to the anti-abortion movement in the United States? And the French doctor who helped identify HIV in the early days of the Aids epidemic. On 10 June 1944, Nazi troops entered the buccolic village of Oradour-sur-Glane in central France and massacred 643 men, women and children. They then burnt it to the ground. Later that year, General Charles de Gaulle declared Oradour a ‘martyred village’, giving instructions that its state of destruction should be conserved as a permanent reminder of Nazi barbarity. Babeth Robert, the head of the village's remembrance centre, talks about life among the ruined remains. Benoit Sadry, the head of the association of families of victims of the massacre, reflects on family history and the need to conserve the site against the ravages of time. (Listen @0') As the US Supreme Court in April was considering a case to de-authorise the use of mifepristone – one of two drugs used in medication abortions – many abortion providers in France were experiencing a shortage of misoprostol, the other drug. Isabelle Louis of the Planning Familiale, which provides abortions in the Paris area, talks about the shortage and its impact on patients. Pauline Londeix, of the Observatory for transparency in drug policies, says the scarcity is likely part of a longer-running problem of medecine shortages in general. But the timing, given what's happening in the US, is hard to ignore. (Listen @21'38'') On 20 May 1983, a group of French scientists published a paper in Science identifying the virus that caused Aids. Jessica Phelan speaks about the discovery and its origins in a sample taken by a doctor in Paris, Willy Rozenbaum. (Listen @13'25'') Episode mixed by Cecile Pompeani. Spotlight on France is a podcast from Radio France International. Find us on rfienglish.com, iTunes (link here), Spotify (link here), Google podcasts (link here), or your favourite podcast app (pod.link/1573769878).
28 minutes | May 4, 2023
Podcast: French union paradox, Tintin today, first Miss France
Why French unions are so prominent despite record low membership. How Tintin defied critiques of racism, sexism and anti-Semitism to remain one of France's favourite comic strip characters. And the 1920 beauty pageant that evolved into Miss France, watched by millions each year. France's leading trade unions have seen a recent increase in membership after organising weeks of strikes and protests against the government's unpopular pension reform. But union membership in France – at around 8 percent – is among the lowest in western Europe. Researcher Marie Menard talks about the raison d'etre of French unions and how they still manage to punch above their weight. (Listen @2'10'') Forty years after the death of his creator, and nearly a century after he first appeared in a comic strip, Tintin remains one of France's most beloved characters. The 24 albums featuring the young Belgian reporter's adventures with his dog Snowy sell half a million copies a year in France. Comic book sellers talk about how they're mainly bought by adults nowadays. And Renaud Nattiez, author of Faut-il bruler Tintin? (Should we burn Tintin?) reflects on why, despite critiques of Tintin, author Hergé is still so popular. (Listen @18'10'') Miss France was born on 10 May 1920 as 'La plus belle femme de France' (France’s most beautiful woman) – a competition judged by cinema goers. It has evolved over the years, and while it has been criticised by feminist groups, the beauty pageant continues to pull in both contestants and television viewers. (Listen @11'30'') Episode mixed by Cecile Pompeani. Spotlight on France is a podcast from Radio France International. Find us on rfienglish.com, iTunes (link here), Spotify (link here), Google podcasts (link here), or your favourite podcast app (pod.link/1573769878).
33 minutes | Apr 20, 2023
Podcast: holding multinationals to account, Agent Orange on stage, ten years of gay marriage
France's pioneering 2017 law that made French-based multinational companies responsible for human rights and environmental violations wherever they do business. Also, a Franco-Vietnamese theatre director brings Vietnamese history to life on stage. And the first same-sex marriage remembered 10 years after it became legal. The collapse of the Rana Plaza garment factory in Bangladesh a decade ago led to France passing a duty of care law in 2017, making French-headquartered multinationals responsible for human rights violations and environmental damages throughout the supply chain. Nayla Ajaltouni (@naylaajaltouni) of the collective Éthique sur l’étiquette says the French initiative has helped spur on a similar law at the European level, but feels the business-friendly Macron government is not as ambitious as it should be in ensuring labour and human rights come before business as usual. (Listen @2'08'') Franco-Vietnamese activist Tran To Nga has spent years pushing for the chemical companies that produced Agent Orange – a herbicide used by the United States during the Vietnam war that caused cancers and birth defects – to be held responsible in French courts. Director Marine Bachelot-Nguyen was inspired by Tran’s story and created a one-woman show, Nos corps empoisonnés (Our poisoned bodies), based on her life and activism. She talks about making theatre as a way of reaching audiences who might not otherwise listen. (Listen @22'07'') France legalised gay marriage on 23 April, 2013. 10years later, Vincent Autin (@VincentAutin), half of the first ever same-sex couple to tie the knot in France, reflects on the legacy of the law. And lawyer Florent Berdeaux (@florentberdeaux) talks about how the right to marry also opened up the right to divorce, which is arguably even more important. (Listen @13'50'') Episode mixed by Cecile Pompeani. Spotlight on France is a podcast from Radio France International. Find us on rfienglish.com, iTunes (link here), Spotify (link here), Google podcasts (link here), or your favourite podcast app (pod.link/1573769878).
27 minutes | Apr 6, 2023
Podcast: France and China, menstrual leave, the 'Picasso Papers'
France's evolving relationship with China; allowing women time off for period pain; and why artist Pablo Picasso never became French. France has historically had good relations with China, but as Europe has been looking to distance itself from the People's Republic, France has had to follow suit. RFI's Jan van der Made talks about French President Emmanuel Macron's visit to China this week, and the shifting relationship between the two countries. (Listen @2'20'') After Spain passed a law allowing women to take up to two days off each month for pain related to menstruation, France is being encouraged to do the same. The town of Saint Ouen, north of Paris, has put in place paid menstrual leave for city employees, to allow them to take time off, and to raise awareness of what is often a taboo subject. But not everyone agrees with the measure. (Listen @18'37'') Pablo Picasso, who died on 8 April 1973, spent his entire adult life in France and a host of exhibitions are planned to mark the 50th anniversary of his death. France claims him as a national treasure, but it rejected his 1940 request for French nationality. (Listen @12'20'') Episode mixed by Cecile Pompeani. Spotlight on France is a podcast from Radio France International. Find us on rfienglish.com, iTunes (link here), Spotify (link here), Google podcasts (link here), or your favourite podcast app (pod.link/1573769878).
28 minutes | Mar 23, 2023
Podcast: testing French democracy, surviving eco-anxiety, naming children
Is the French government denying people their democratic rights by passing its controversial pension reform without a vote in parliament? No, says a constitutional expert, but it has led to a political crisis. Fighting eco-anxiety by searching out France's eco-optimists. And a Napoleonic law that limited how you could name your child. France's last remaining hostage, journalist Olivier Dubois, is finally released (Listen @0'00) The French government used article 49.3 of the constitution to push through its contested pension reform without a final vote in parliament. Opponents to the reform say the use of the article is a denial of democracy. Political scientist Christophe Boutin says while it's perfectly legal, the way it was used remains problematic. (Listen @3'15'') Longtime journalist Dorothée Moisan (@domoisan) quit her job to focus on the environment, but found herself depressed and overwhelmed by what she learned about climate change. To ease her eco-anxiety, she set out to meet people who managed to overcome theirs, and wrote about them in her book, Les Ecoptimistes. They each have their own approach. (Listen @18'05'') Tired of revolutionaries calling their children Liberté or Revolution, Napoleon Bonaparte, then First Consul of France, passed a law on 1 April 1803 allowing children to be given names from religious calenders, or named after historical figures. The law was overtunred in 1993, even though some would like to see it return. (Listen @12'43'') Episode mixed by Cecile Pompeani. Spotlight on France is a podcast from Radio France International. Find us on rfienglish.com, iTunes (link here), Spotify (link here), Google podcasts (link here), or your favourite podcast app (pod.link/1573769878).
29 minutes | Mar 9, 2023
Podcast: French farmers post-Ukraine, fast fashion fallout, Life of Jesus
How French farmers are adapting since the war in Ukraine halted grain and seed exports. Why we need to buy fewer clothes if we want the fashion industry to be sustainable. And the voice of Ernest Renan – one of the big thinkers of 19th century France, famed for his biography of Jesus. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has led to a drop in grain exports around the world, as Ukraine was a major producer before the war. Farmers in France – Europe’s largest grain producer – have shifted their production to help compensate. At the annual ‘Salon de l’Agriculture’ agriculture fair in the south of Paris, Laurent Rosso, director of the French vegetable oil and protein trade association, talks about how grain farmers here have increased their sunflower crops, for animal feed and cooking oil, and the country's quest for self-sufficiency. And with the increase in the price of wheat, farmers might be discouraged from planting other grains. Cédric Truphemus, a producer of petit epautre, or small spelt, in the high Alps, says not enough farmers in the region are planting, and they cannot meet demand. (Listen @1'15) The fashion industry's green credentials are not great: not only is it responsible for at least four percent of global carbon emissions, the dyes and chemicals involved in garment-making are damaging to the environment and human health. Fashion shows, such as the recent Fashion Week in Paris, are the most visible part of the industry, but they are just the tip of the iceberg. The big problem is the growth of 'ultra fast fashion', which floods the market with cheap garments with short shelf-lives. Catherine Dauriac, a fashion journalist, author and country coordinator of the global non-profit Fashion Revolution, talks about the urgent need to make fashion more sustainable. It begins with buying less but better and repairing the clothes we already have. (Listen @17'50) France is marking the bi-centenary of the birth of historian and philosopher Ernest Renan. Renowned for works such as the "Life of Jesus" and "What is a nation?" his voice was recorded by Gustave Eiffel in 1891 in one of the earliest audio recordings in France. (Listen @12'00) Episode mixed by Cecile Pompeani. Spotlight on France is a podcast from Radio France International. Find us on rfienglish.com, iTunes (link here), Spotify (link here), Google podcasts (link here), or your favourite podcast app (pod.link/1573769878).
30 minutes | Feb 9, 2023
Podcast: ChatGPT in French schools, Placard Man, first French pensions
How French educators are grappling with new AI-based technology, like ChatGPT, and how it will affect teaching, evaluating and learning. Voltuan, the most-recognised man on French demos, talks about life as a full-time activist. And the 17th century origins of France's pension system. Faced with a growing number of students in France submitting papers written by the chatbot ChatGPT, the prestigious Sciences Po university recently banned its use as part of its policy against fraud and plagiarism. But artificial intelligence is here to stay and French educators are having to get to grips with it. Computer science professor Jean-Gabriel Ganascia (@Quecalcoatle) tested out a text generator to write a column in a research magazine and was quite impressed with the results. Thierry de Vulpillières (@tdevul), founder of a startup that proposes AI-based learning tools to teachers, says French teachers and professors will now need to rethink how they test and evaluate students. (Listen @0') At the front of most big demos in Paris you'll see a man with his arms outstretched in a V-shape holding up a huge sign with a brightly coloured catchy slogan in big capital letters. 'Placard man', as French media have dubbed him, has attended hundreds of marches as part of the convergence of struggles – climate justice, social justice, women’s rights, animal rights, and of course, pension reform. Jean-Baptiste Reddé, who goes by the name of Voltuan (@Voltuan), talks about committing his life to activism, what it's like to be so visible, and coming up with his slogans in Parisien cafés. (Listen @19'18'') France's pension system, where working people pay for the pensions of current retirees, was founded in 1945 at the end of World War II. But the very first pensions go back to the 17th century, when Louis XIV signed edicts for the navy and ballet dancers – the first of which was 450 years ago, on 22 September 1673. (Listen @14'15'') Episode mixed by Cecile Pompeani. Spotlight on France is a podcast from Radio France International. Find us on rfienglish.com, iTunes (link here), Spotify (link here), Google podcasts (link here), or your favourite podcast app (pod.link/1573769878).
30 minutes | Jan 26, 2023
Podcast: Pension reform fury, employment after 55, Paris Peace Accords
A majority of French people disapprove of the government proposal to raise the retirement age from 62 to 64-years-old. Women could come off worse than men, and it will involve addressing senior employment, which France does not do particularly well. And how the Paris Peace Accords, marking a temporary end to the Vietnam war, were signed 50 years ago in the French capital. The French government's proposed pension reform, which would raise the minimum retirement age has unleashed a new wave of strikes and protests, drawing a record 1.3 million people into the streets on 18 January. Some opponents say everyone will loose out in the reform, though an official report suggests women may fare worse by having to work on average seven extra months – compared to five for men – in order to even out the gender imbalance. On the street, women expressed anger at being asked to work longer in what are already difficult jobs. (Listen @58'') Opposition parties on the hard left and hard right are opposed to the reform, but some members of the ruling coalition are also expressing concern. MP and former environment minister, Barbara Pompili, has said that she cannot vote on the legislation as it stands, and is pushing for amendments to make it fairer, especially for people who started working young, and for older workers. (Listen @10'27'') France has a problem with employing seniors – people aged 55 and over – and this could become an even bigger issue if the retirement age is raised to 64. Hervé Boulhol, senior economist at the OECD, says that contrary to popular opinion previous increases in retirement have not led to more unemployment among seniors. (Listen @14'50'') The agreement to end the Vietnam war was signed in Paris on 27 January 1973, after nearly five years of difficult negotiations between the US and communist North Vietnam. France was a logical place to hold the peace talks because of its historical links to Vietnam – a French colony until 1954. (Listen @22'40'') Episode mixed by Cecile Pompeani. Spotlight on France is a podcast from Radio France International. Find us on rfienglish.com, iTunes (link here), Spotify (link here), Google podcasts (link here), or your favourite podcast app (pod.link/1573769878).
31 minutes | Jan 12, 2023
Podcast: Senegalese riflemen, cryptocurrency woes, Napoleon III
Long-awaited recognition for France's colonial infantry corps. Who are the French victims of the collapse of the FTX cryptocurrency exchange? Napoleon III's transformation of France. The "tirailleurs Senegalais" – riflemen from former French colonies in west Africa who fought in the French army – will be allowed to claim their French state pensions while living permanently in their countries of origin. The change in rules marks a shift in recognition for their heroism and coincides with the release of "Les Tirailleurs" starring Omar Sy. Yoro Diao, one of the few surviving soldiers, talks about the fight for recognition, and his pride in defending his country’s former colonial ruler. (Listen @2'15'') Some 50,000 to 60,000 people in France lost money in the collapse of the American cryptocurrency exchange FTX. Lawyer Ronan Journoud (@cryptoavocat) is advising some of the victims. Several of them lost their life savings. (Listen @19'23'') We look at the complicated legacy of France's first president and last monarch, Napoleon III, 150 years after his death on 9 January 1873. He expanded France's colonial empire, renovated Paris, and died in exile in England. (Listen @)14'30") Episode mixed by Cecile Pompeani. Spotlight on France is a podcast from Radio France International. Find us on rfienglish.com, iTunes (link here), Spotify (link here), Google podcasts (link here), or your favourite podcast app (pod.link/1573769878).
35 minutes | Dec 15, 2022
Podcast: Football frenzy, foie gras alternatives, Proust forever
Unpicking France's win against Morocco in World Cup semi-final; finding "ethical" alternatives to force-fed foie gras; and why it's worth reading Marcel Proust, 100 years after his death. After France beat Morocco in the World Cup semi-final, Paul Myers looks at whether it makes sense to see it as a face-off between Morocco and its former colonial power, and what a win in the final against Argentina on Sunday would mean for France – which first won the football tournament in 1998. (Listen @0') Foie gras is a delicacy found on many French tables during the festive season. But the process of making it, which involves force feeding geese or ducks to increase their liver size, can be seen as a form of animal cruelty. French scientist Remy Burcelin has discovered a way for geese to naturally fatten their livers, and his company is experimenting with making foie gras without force feeding. Meanwhile vegan chef Julie Bavant shows us how to make faux gras, or fake foie gras and talks about why it is appealing to vegans and meat-eaters alike. (Listen @19'50'') French writer Marcel Proust, who died 100 years ago this year, spent 14 years writing his 3,000-page opus 'A la recherche du temps perdu' (In search of lost time) – hailed as one of the greatest works of 20th century European literature. Reading it is a daunting task, but Josh Landy, author of 'The World According to Proust' says it's well worth the effort. (Listen @8'45'') Episode mixed by Cecile Pompeani. Spotlight on France is a podcast from Radio France International. Find us on rfienglish.com, iTunes (link here), Spotify (link here), Google podcasts (link here), or your favourite podcast app (pod.link/1573769878).
23 minutes | Dec 1, 2022
Podcast: abortion rights, living in a cemetery, Walt Disney's French connection
As France's parliament passes a bill that would enshrine the right to abortion in the constitution, a new film explores the time before it was legalised in 1975. The curator of Père Lachaise in Paris on life and biodiversity in France's most famous cemetery. And Walt Disney's 11th-century French roots. France might be on the way to becoming the first country to have abortion rights protected in the constitution, after a recent vote in the National Assembly passed with a large majority. Not everyone thinks it is necessary – legal scholar Gwenaele Calves says abortion rights are already well protected in France. Meanwhile a new film, Annie Colère (Angry Annie), tells the story of the MLAC (Movement for the freedom of abortion and contraception) whose work carrying out illegal abortions in the early 70s helped pave the way for the law legalising abortion in 1975. (Listen @0') Three million people flock to Paris' Père Lachaise cemetery every year, drawn to the tombs of Frederic Chopin, Jim Morrison and other famous people buried there. But it's also home to an increasing amount of wildlife, including foxes. Laura Angela Bagnetto spoke with cemetery curator Benoît Gallot (@benoit_gallot), author of La vie secrète d’un cimetière (The secret life of a cemetery) about living in the famed graveyard and its rich biodiversity. (Listen @16') Walt Disney was born on 5 December 1901 in the US, but his distant ancestors hailed from Normandy and gave him his name. (Listen @11'50'') Episode mixed by Vincent Pora. Spotlight on France is a podcast from Radio France International. Find us on rfienglish.com, iTunes (link here), Spotify (link here), Google podcasts (link here), or your favourite podcast app (pod.link/1573769878).
33 minutes | Nov 17, 2022
Podcast: Bullfighting, civil disobedience, Vikings lay siege to Paris
A north-south divide over bullfighting, which holds an important cultural spot in many parts of southern France, but which opponents say is animal cruelty. A French climate activist on why blocking roads and interrupting opera performances is the only way to get attention. And the 9th-century Viking attack on Paris. The bullfighting tradition is long and strong in many parts of southern and south-western France, but a lawmaker from the north of the country says it's immoral and wants to get it banned outright. A corrida in Vauvert, near Montpellier, where toreros were performing along with students from the Arles bullfighting school, suggest the issue might be more nuanced. Aficionados object to a Parisian vision of how they should or should not celebrate their culture. The violence inherent to bullfighting is also, they say, what makes it so powerful. (Listen @2'07'') Climate activists have taken to throwing things at famous paintings in European museums, to capture the public's attention over what they see as an existential threat. While French paintings have not been hit (so far), homegrown French activists Dernière Rénovation (Last renovation) have been using direct action or acts of civil disobedience to highlight the very specific issue of housing renovation. The housing sector is the second-biggest producer of greenhouse gas emissions in France, after transportation, and the group wants the government to pass more ambitious legislation to push homeowners to better insulate their buildings. To increase pressure on the government, they started in the summer by interrupting the Tour de France. Since then, they have regularly blocked highways around the country. Victor talks about interrupting an opera performance, and why such acts of civil disobedience are necessary. (Listen @20'00'') The Viking siege of Paris that started on 24 November 885 was the beginning of the end of the unified Carolingian Empire, setting in place the future shape of the France we know today. (Listen @16'12'') Episode mixed by Nicolas Doreau. Spotlight on France is a podcast from Radio France International. Find us on rfienglish.com, iTunes (link here), Spotify (link here), Google podcasts (link here), or your favourite podcast app (pod.link/1573769878).
34 minutes | Oct 20, 2022
Podcast: NFTs in Paris, Simone Veil on screen, fingerprint technology
A Paris art gallery embraces NFTs as a new form of expression, that can also make collectors very rich. A biopic of Simone Veil disappoints critics but brings the life of an inspirational woman to a new generation. And the story of the "father of forensic science" whose landmark fingerprint technology caught a murderer for the first time in 1902. The NFT market is rife with speculation, though the technology is winning over some digital artists and collectors. A Parisian art gallery has started putting on hybrid shows, with NFTs displayed on a screen alongside oil paintings and prints. Alla Goldshteyn, of the Goldshteyn-Saatort gallery, which shows and sells urban art, talks about the thrill of experimenting with NFTs. While some collectors are out to make money, software engineer and NFT collector Gaspard Tertrais (@gaspard_ter) talks about the added appeal of owning something no one else has in the virtual world. (Listen @2'30'') The French biopic 'Simone, le voyage du siècle' (Simone, a woman of the century) traces the life of Holocaust survivor and politician Simone Veil. Director Olivier Dahan talks about depicting the Holocaust on screen and the need to introduce younger people to an extraordinary woman in French history. The film has been panned by many cinema critics, including Eric Schwald (@eric_schwald). But viewing it with his teenage son delivers a different perspective and shows the importance of passing on her life and its lessons to the younger generation. (Listen @23') On 24 October, 1902, a murderer was arrested and convicted on the basis of fingerprints, thanks to a method devised by Frenchman Alphonse Bertillon. His long-term reputation as the father of anthropometry was somewhat sullied, however, following his involvement in the Dreyfus affair. (Listen @17'35'') Episode mixed by Cecile Pompeani. Spotlight on France is a podcast from Radio France International. Find us on rfienglish.com, iTunes (link here), Spotify (link here), Google podcasts (link here), or your favourite podcast app (pod.link/1573769878).
27 minutes | Oct 6, 2022
Podcast: pregnant in parliament, opera in Paris' streets, Wallace fountains
As the French National Assembly gets younger and more female, some lawmakers say it's time MPs on maternity leave were replaced. Opera singers bring love, tragedy and dialogue to French city streets with free concerts in unexpected places. And the man behind Paris' Wallace fountains, which turn 150 this year. France has a reputation for supporting new parents, with fully-paid maternity leave and a month of paternal leave, but it does not apply to everyone. Because they are appointed, and not employed, members of the National Assembly can stop and start work when they want, but they are not replaced. So when they are absent – whether it is for giving birth or long-term illness – they lose their vote. MP Mathilde Hignet (@mathildehignet), who is pregnant with her first child, has introduced a constitutional amendment that would allow lawmakers to be replaced by their deputies when they are on maternity leave. Will anyone oppose such a proposal? (Listen @2'40'') Opera singers and musicians from the Calms collective are shaking up opera's image – taking it back to its roots in popular culture by performing in the streets. Conceived in Marseille in the wake of the Covid lockdown of 2020, the Opéra Déconfiné project has now spread to other cities. For eight weeks each summer, professional singers give free weekly mini-concerts in working class areas in a number of French towns, drawing in new audiences. (Listen @14'40'') For 150 years 'Wallace' fountains have provided Parisians with clean, free drinking water. Laura Angela Bagnetto talks about Sir Richard Wallace, who generously supported Parisians during the Franco-Prussian war and donated the first 50 fountains to the city in 1872. (Listen @8'45'') Episode mixed by Vincent Pora. Spotlight on France is a podcast from Radio France International. Find us on rfienglish.com, iTunes (link here), Spotify (link here), Google podcasts (link here), or your favourite podcast app (pod.link/1573769878).
27 minutes | Sep 22, 2022
Podcast: The royal spell, cancelling Russian culture, protecting journalists
France's fascination with Queen Elizabeth II and the British monarchy; being a Russian artist in France in the wake of the Ukraine war; a Parisien house marks two decades of helping journalists in exile. Some seven million French people watched coverage of the funeral of Britain's Queen Elizabeth II on Monday, that ended nearly two weeks of mourning and accolades for the British royal family. France's interest in the Queen and the British monarchy seems incongruous, given that France is the land of the Revolution and overthrew its own monarchy in 1789. Catherine Marshall, professor of British history and politics, talks about what draws French people to the Queen, and why the French might be wistful for their own monarch. (Listen @0') France’s large Russian diaspora includes many artists and intellectuals who’ve built on cultural ties laid down in the late 18th century by enlightenment philosopher Diderot and Empress Catherine the Great. But the war in Ukraine has put a strain on relations – inciting calls for cultural boycotts. Russian-born painter Masha Schmidt talks about setting up the ArtetPaix (Art and Peace) project to encourage aid to Ukraine, and why the closeness of Franco-Russian cultural ties may limit the cancelling of Russian artists. (Listen @13'30'') The Maison des journalistes (Journalists' house) is celebrating 20 years of helping persecuted journalists settle into exile in France. (Listen @9'10'') Episode mixed by Cecile Pompeani Spotlight on France is a podcast from Radio France International. Find us on rfienglish.com, iTunes (link here), Spotify (link here), Google podcasts (link here), or your favourite podcast app (pod.link/1573769878).
29 minutes | Sep 8, 2022
Podcast: France's energy woes, cheese in the shadow of Roquefort, left vs. right
As France faces an energy crisis, opposition to wind turbines is slowing a shift to renewables. Making sheep cheese in the land of Roquefort. The Revolutionary origins of the left-right political divide. France has warned about power cuts this winter after Russia cut off gas supplies to most of Europe in response to sanctions following its invasion of Ukraine. While France's nuclear-heavy energy mix should help it weather the storm, half of the country's reactors are offline, raising the spectre of blackouts. This could be an opportunity to further develop renewable energies, such as wind power, says Yves Marignac (@YvesMarignac), a nuclear expert with the Negawatt think tank. The nuclear lobby and political right are fuelling opposition to windfarms but Marignac says the time is right for a shift and that the French are ready to heed calls for energy sufficiency providing they apply to everyone. (Listen @40'') France's famous Roquefort blue cheese has been made in the Aveyron region for centuries, but production has dropped in recent years as French cheese eating habits change. People are turning their noses up to stronger, raw milk cheeses, while still looking for local products. Some farmers in Aveyron, long encouraged to produce milk exclusively for Roquefort, are starting to make their own cheese. Remi Seguin has been making cheese on the sheep farm he inherited from his parents, using techniques they taught him, and is enjoying success. (Listen @15'55'') The left-right political divide dates back to the time of the French Revolution, on 11 September 1789, when members of the constituent assembly chose to sit on different sides of the chamber during a vote on whether or not to give Louis XVI the power of veto. (Listen @11'50'') Spotlight on France is a podcast from Radio France International. Find us on rfienglish.com, iTunes (link here), Spotify (link here), Google podcasts (link here), or your favourite podcast app (pod.link/1573769878).
20 minutes | Aug 11, 2022
Podcast: Revisiting green hydrogen, gay conversion therapy
Another summer special, where we look back on what has been called the world's first green hydrogen production plant. And a first-hand account of gay conversion therapy, which has since become a crime in France. Spotlight on France is a podcast from Radio France International. Find us on rfienglish.com, iTunes (link here), Spotify (link here), Google podcasts (link here), or your favourite podcast app (pod.link/1573769878).
16 minutes | Jul 21, 2022
Podcast: Revisiting dying with dignity, baking Christmas in August
A special summer episode, in which we update last October's conversation with Jacqueline Jencquel, a member of the French Association for the right to die with dignity (ADMD). She talks about planning her own death and what needs to change in French law. Also, from the archives, a look at pastry chefs preparing Christmas cakes... in August. Spotlight on France is a podcast from Radio France International. Find us on rfienglish.com, iTunes (link here), Spotify (link here), Google podcasts (link here), or your favourite podcast app (pod.link/1573769878).
31 minutes | Jun 30, 2022
Podcast: Paris attacks verdict, quidditch in France, Haiti's 'independence debt'
Reflecting on the end of the trial of those involved in the 2015 Paris attacks; developing quidditch in France, where some are wary of a sport involving a broom between the legs. And the day that Haiti was forced to pay its former slave masters for its independence. The trial of the 20 men involved in the 2015 terror attacks in Paris, which left 130 people dead, ended this week after nearly ten months. 19 of the 20 defendents were found guilty of all terrorism-related charges. Salah Abdeslam, the only surviving member of the commando that carried out the attacks, was sentenced to a whole-life term of 30 years in prison. RFI's Michael Fitzpatrick, who has been following the trial since it started in September 2021, talks about how the defendents evolved and what the trial taught him about the rule of law in France. (Listen @2'40'') Quidditch, the fictional game featured in the Harry Potter books, has developed into a real life sport played in 40 countries. While France has only a few hundred players in a dozen or so teams, the national team won the IQA European Games title in 2019 and will be heading back to defend it in Ireland at the end of July. At a recent practice session, Team France members talk about their love of the game – the only gender-mixed contact sport – and why the broom is an essential ingredient. (Listen @17'45'') On 11 July 1825, Haiti agreed to pay 150-million gold francs to France to avoid going to war with its former colonial ruler. The payment was deemed necessary to compensate slave owners for losing their ‘property’ after the Haitian revolution. The country is still suffering from the results of this massive independence debt. (Listen @12'15'') This episode was mixed by Cecile Pompeani. Spotlight on France is a podcast from Radio France International. Find us on rfienglish.com, iTunes (link here), Spotify (link here), Google podcasts (link here), or your favourite podcast app (pod.link/1573769878).
28 minutes | Jun 16, 2022
Podcast: France's healthcare crisis, 'deserting' agro-tech, fête de la musique
France's famously good public healthcare system is in crisis, as emergency services warn of shutdowns over the summer due to lack of staff. Graduates of prestigious AgroParisTech university make waves by turning their backs on an industry they say is "waging war on the living world". The annual Fête de la musique all-day music festival turns 40. French hospital A&E services are threatening to shut down over the summer due to staff shortages. The French emergency services association estimated a few weeks ago that 120 emergency rooms are facing difficulties – more than half of which have closed partially, at night or at weekends. Healthcare workers warn that this crisis is just the visible manifestation of the collapse of France's renowned healthcare system. Public hospital staff talk about burnout and lack of resources, exacerbated by the Covid pandemic, as the government says it is looking to overhaul the system. (Listen @1'50) During their graduation ceremony, eight students at AgroParisTech – an elite university that trains the country's top agro-tech engineers – announced they were "swerving" away from the industry they'd spent years preparing for. In a speech that made waves in one of France's most important economic sectors, they denounced studies that were contributing to social and ecological devastation. One of the deserters, who lives in the ZAD (Zone to defend) in Notre Dame des Landes, near Nantes, talks about investing her knowledge and energy into collective, anti-capitalist projects and why others could follow suit. (Listen @14'50'') On 21 June 1982, the French Culture Minister Jack Lang launched Fête de la musique as a cure for morosity and a showcase for France's known, and less known, musical talent. Forty years later the all-day music festival has spread to 120 countries. (Listen @10'05'') This episode was mixed by Cecile Pompeani. Spotlight on France is a podcast from Radio France International. Find us on rfienglish.com, iTunes (link here), Spotify (link here), Google podcasts (link here), or your favourite podcast app (pod.link/1573769878).