French News Weekly: Nuns, Strikes and Panda Escapes

French News Weekly: Nuns, Strikes and Panda Escapes

The past week has been busy for France. Don’t worry, we’re here to help you catch up with the latest French news in quick-and-easy chunks!


The strike planned for 5th December is growing in size, as new organisations pin their colours to the mast. To date, SNCF, RATP, Air France, EDF, hospital workers and lorry drivers’ unions have added their support to the strike action. Broadly speaking the strike relates to proposed pensions reforms, but other issues are expected to be raised on the day. Firefighters have already been offered a lowered retirement age in an attempt to ease dissatisfaction amongst public service workers.

A Facebook group has been created to match desperate expat voters with willing proxies in their constituencies. Due to expected postal delays, Britons wishing to vote in the general election have been urged to opt for a proxy vote rather than rely on the post arriving in time.

A French court has sentenced the sister of a prominent IS propagandist to nine years in prison for terrorist association. Anne Diana Clain, 44, attempted to take her family to Syria to join her brothers, who had links to the 2015 Paris attacks. Clain’s husband was also found guilty and given a 10-year prison sentence. Clain’s lawyers assert that their client has renounced her religious beliefs in recent years and is no longer a risk.

A French policeman was on trial on Thursday for throwing a heavy stone at protesters during a Yellow Vest rally on May 1st. The incident was filmed, and the footage was shown in the court proceedings. Around 4300 people have been injured in Yellow Vest protests since last November.


After the announcement of Airbnb as a major Olympic partner last week, French hotel owners are up in arms. A group of hoteliers has threatened to withdraw planning support for the Paris 2024 games, saying that Airbnb undermines the hotel industry. Local government supports this action, having already voiced concerns over the partnership.

500 new “half price homes” will be ready to buy in Paris in 2022, but they won’t be available for the majority of buyers. They will be reserved for families on modest incomes who can prove a connection to the capital. The affordable housing comes as part of a pledge to sell new build properties on behalf of the city.

The French nationality has been ranked as the world’s best for the eighth time running. The Quality of Nationality Index evaluates qualities such as economics, opportunities for citizens’ personal development, freedom of movement and peace. All of the countries in the top ten were European, with the UK coming 8th, the USA coming in 25th and Australia in 29th place.

Early snow has been great news for French ski resorts, with some venues enjoying the earliest opening in three decades. La Colmiane in Nice opened 80% of its pistes on Saturday, having had 70cm of snow already.

A French nature group is calling for the motorway speed limit to be reduced to 100kmph (around 60mph). They claim this will protect the environment by reducing emissions, improving traffic flow and reducing the risk of accidents. The Netherlands have already successfully implemented the same limit for its motorways.

A French nun has been refused residence at a care home because she refuses to give up her habit. The nun, in her seventies, retired to her hometown of Vesoul, having spent most of her life at a convent in the Drôme. After months on a waiting list she was offered a space at a retirement home but was informed that outward displays of religious affiliation would not be permitted. The nun refused the offer and has sought accommodation elsewhere. Secularism is enshrined in French law, preventing obvious symbols of religion from being worn in public or government spaces.

Authorities are desperately searching for an escaped red panda. The endangered critter managed to get out of is enclosure by climbing broken branches. Residents near the zoo have been asked to keep an eye out, particularly up trees and other high places, but have been warned not to approach it. This is the third known red panda escape in recent memory, with residents of Belfast Zoo and a wildlife park on the Isle of Man previously making a break for it.

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