France

  • The French Parliament has taken the first steps toward approving a law that would ban discrimination based on a person’s accent. Violations could be punished by a maximum of 3 years in prison and a fine up to €45,000. This will no doubt bring a sense of justice to the large number of people in France who speak with regional accents but often feel a sense of disdain in a country dominated culturally, politically, and economically by Paris. According to Ouest-France, an IFOP poll in January 2020 found that 16% of French people claimed to have been the victims of discrimination…

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  • On a late July morning, my wife and I walked down the street from our apartment in Toulouse to the Prefecture for our French citizenship appointments. The 5-minute trip took us past rows of the familiar brick façades that give our adopted home its nickname, La Ville Rose (Pink City), before arriving at the Prefecture. My wife’s meeting came first, and then 90 minutes later it was my turn. I sat across the desk from a middle-aged woman whose casual dress and warm demeanor helped put me at ease. A large plexiglass screen separated us, and I did my best…

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  • The appointment of Jean Castex as France’s new prime minister by President Emmanuel Macron this summer launched a flurry of political analysis by the nation’s chattering classes. But it also left many in the nation’s capital shocked because Castex has a Southern accent. In France, there is officially one right way to speak French and it’s hammered into kids throughout their school years. To deviate from this even in the slightest marks you as a “provincial,” or someone from the provinces, aka, everywhere that is not Paris. France has numerous regional accents, ranging from Brittany in the Northwest to Marseille…

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  • La Boutique Des Vins in Toulouse’s historic Carmes neighborhood is one of the more popular spots for local residents to browse for just the right wine or spirit, maybe even a craft beer. On a quiet Friday evening when store traffic was still sparse, Noémie Cassou-Lalanne arrived in the hopes of convincing customers to reconsider a traditional spirit that might only rarely be on their shopping list. Surrounded by a nook of shelves filled with wine bottles, teas, and chocolate bars, Cassou-Lalanne set up a small table and a silver tray with three bottles of Armagnac from the Pellehaut domaine…

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  • Despite a raging pandemic, various personal and professional obligations required me to make the 7-hour drive between Toulouse and Paris several times this past summer. In a country full of spectacular vistas, the route along A20 to A71 to A10 that cuts through the heart of central France does not offer much in the way of dramatic scenery. While there are some verdant patches and some interesting detours from the highway, mostly this drive is a grind spent counting the rest stops and trying not to stare at the odometer to calculate how much longer to go. So during one…

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  • To find a reason for optimism about the summer tourist season that starts next week in France, just pay a visit to the Maison D’Orride in the country’s southwest province of Béarn. Didier and Marina Monteil fled Paris several years ago to buy a stone farmhouse where director Roger Vadim and his then-wife Jane Fonda once filmed “La Curée” (“The Game is Over”) in the 1960s. After the couple painstakingly transformed it into a thriving Bed & Breakfast, it gained a national reputation thanks to the vintage décor of its rooms and traditional dinners such as hearty daube stew and…

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  • The Louvre Museum has announced the rules for visiting its famed exhibits when it reopens on July 6. The museum has been closed since March when France’s coronavirus lockdown went into effect. During that time, it has been offering virtual visits of its exhibits. With France’s lockdown finally lifted for the Paris region, the museum and its staff are preparing to again welcome visitors. But the rules for anyone to enter the museum will be quite strict, according to a press release from the museum. First, to gain entrance, visitors must purchase a ticket online in advance for a specific…

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  • As the French summer tourist season arrives, one of the most appealing options for seeing this country is a trip along one of its numerous bike paths. Travelers like this choice because it gets them outdoors in a way that also offers some measure of safety and peace of mind. You can ride at your own speed, and keep as much distance as you want if you’re still feeling anxious about crowds while the coronavirus is still circulating. The nation’s tourist industry is promoting this because they’re eager to entice people to travel this summer to get some much-needed Euros…

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  • Camping is finally on the rise in France and the folks at Glamping Hub have taken notice. Based in Seville, Spain, the outdoor accommodations company says its neighbor to the north has become one of its fastest growing markets. Glamping Hub focuses on unique, higher end outdoor experiences. It currently has 338 accommodations in France, according to partnerships manager Amy Ahlblad. “It’s one of our trending marketplaces,” she said. “We’re noticing a lot of demand from countries outside of France.” With camping seen as potentially an even more popular choice for the summer vacation period following the coronavirus lockdowns in France,…

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  • France

    How to spend 48 hours in Lyon, France

    by Chris O'Brien
    by Chris O'Brien

    Visiting Lyon for the first time, it’s tempting to do nothing but eat your way across France’s third largest city. While it boasts plenty of cultural, historical, and architectural attractions, Lyon’s well-deserved gastronomic reputation means that a seductive plate of food seems to be calling out from every direction. The city has more than 4,000 restaurants and 19 chefs with Michelin stars. During a long weekend in Lyon, I managed to resist that siren song as much as possible so I could explore the city. Eventually, I just gave in, and happily so. France’s food culture in general is such…

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