News Digest: Paris Olympics 2024 Tickets On Sale & Is France Heading for Another Drought?
Macron defends his pension reform bill as France braces for more strikes, the first tickets go on sale for the Paris Olympics 2024, and a dry winter leaves forecasters worried about drought as we head into spring. Here are the French news stories you need to know about this week.
1. Macron defends pension reforms amid protests
French President Emmanuel Macron today defended his controversial pension reform plans, which include raising the minimum retirement age to 64 and the end of certain special regime pensions. Talking with journalists and workers while visiting the Rungis market in Val-de-Marne, he insisted that: “This reform makes it possible to create more wealth for the country” and “to finance school, health,” adding: “There is no social model that holds if we do not create more wealth.”
A series of nationwide strikes have already taken place in protest against the proposed reforms, with the next major strike proposed for March 7th. In the meantime, the Assemblée Nationale has spent the past two weeks debating the bill, with very little progress made. After missing the deadline to vote on the entire bill last Friday, the bill passed to the Senate on Saturday (Feb 18th), where it will be debated for 15 days from February 28. What happens after that? A joint committee will then be appointed to find a bicameral agreement prior to the examination of the bill in Parliament on March 26.
2. Ticket Draw Announced for Paris Olympics 2024
Those of you who entered the ticket draw for the Paris Olympics 2024 should keep an eye on your emails – the first public ticket sales officially opened last week (Feb 15th). Successful entrants will be informed by email before March 15th(in fact, you may have already received one – I got mine yesterday!) and will be given a timed 48-hour window in which to log on to the site and purchase tickets. Check the time period carefully, as you will only be able to purchase your tickets within this slot.
Three million tickets will be made available during this time, with each person offered the chance to buy a ‘pack’ with a minimum of three tickets, selecting at least three different sports out of the 31 disciplines (the 32nd – surfing – takes place in Tahiti and so isn’t available), depending on availability. Tickets will be linked to the account holder’s account, although it seems that it will be possible to change the name on the account in the event that you can’t make it. Tickets will start at €24 each, with one million tickets available at this entry-level price.
The purchase process is said to be somewhat confusing (we’ll see how I get on tomorrow!), so here’s what you need to know. Successful participants are given the option to purchase three tickets for three different disciplines (i.e., one ticket per sport) OR three tickets for a minimum of three different disciplines (i.e., three tickets per sport – a total of nine). A system has also been put in place to prevent buyers from selecting three of the most popular sports – so, if you select ‘basketball’ as your first choice, you likely won’t be able to choose ‘swimming’ or ‘artistic gymnastics’ for your second choice. You can purchase a total of 18 tickets providing that these minimums are met.
3. Is France heading for another drought?
Météo-France, France’s national weather forecaster, announced today that Metropolitan Francehasn’t had any “real rain” for thirty-one days – a period that is “unheard of during winter weather,” according to Le Monde. This is the driest February since 1959. This kind of stretch without rain is not completely unheard of, though – the same 31-day stretch happened back in spring 2020, smack-bang in the middle of France’s first Covid-19 confinement.
However, experts say that this lack of winter rainfall is a real concern, especially for areas still suffering the effects of last year’s drought. Météo-France reports that since August 2021, almost every single month has had a deficit of rain, preventing groundwater supplies from fully recovering and keeping areas such as the Pyrénées-Orientales in a perpetual drought.
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