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It was not all bad: A round-up of positive French news stories

From falling inflation to connecting with your neighbours, here is some good news to start your weekend with

Inflation is down, e-cigarettes may help people quit smoking on prescription, new babies have been born to endangered species, and a festival is encouraging neighbourly chats Pic: Edwin Butter / vchal / Caftor / Andrii Yalanskyi / Shutterstock

1. France’s high inflation finally begins to fall

After months of rising inflation, levels finally dropped this month.
France statistics bureau Insee said prices “clearly slowed” in May, to remain stable at 5.1% year-on-year. 

This compares to 5.9% in April and the 6% seen at the start of the year. 

In a statement, Insee said: “This fall in inflation is due to the slowdown in energy prices [and] manufactured goods and services over the year.”

Food inflation also dropped, from 15% in April to 14.1% in May.

Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire told FranceInter: “This is the first time in several months that we have seen inflation slow down in France. A number of prices will begin to fall [soon].”

2. New babies of threatened species arrive at animal park

Three baby red ruffed lemurs have been born at the Parc animalier d’Auvergne, near Ardes-sur-Couze (Puy-de-Dôme), in what has been hailed as good news for the species, which is at risk of extinction.

Zookeepers reported seeing the new arrivals in between two females, Bako and Riana. The species is listed on the Red List of Threatened Species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN).

They are estimated to have been born between May 4 and 7. It comes after two newborns of the same species also arrived in April 2022.

The animals are normally found exclusively in tropical forests in Madagascar. They usually stay in the trees and rarely come to the ground. They live in groups of at least two, but sometimes in groups of up to 30. As one of the larger species of lemur, they tend to measure around 50-60cm and weigh between three and six kilos.

Their activity has been threatened in recent years by human activities such as hunting, deforestation, and the destruction of their habitat.

The new arrivals in France were a happy result of a European breeding programme, in which the Auvergne park is participating. The aim is to “maintain the best genetic diversity in the zoo” to create “an emergency population that can be reintroduced into the wild if necessary”.

3. Help for those trying to give up smoking?

Debate is growing in France on whether to stock e-cigarettes in pharmacies and offer them on prescription to people trying to give up smoking.

Doctor and journalist, Damien Mascret, told FranceInfo that researchers at the University of Paris Saclay had found that “43% of those who have tried an electronic cigarette do not become tobacco smokers [and that] experimenting with an electronic cigarette actually reduces the risk of becoming a daily tobacco smoker by 42%”.

He said that France’s position may differ on e-cigarettes, partly because “in other countries, e-cigarettes appear to actually increase the risk of becoming a tobacco smoker”. He said that France’s different results may be due to the country’s higher rate of smoking among young people.

“In France, unfortunately, we have many more young smokers than elsewhere: 27% of those aged 15-18, compared to 15% in the UK and 8% in the US,” he said.

Of course, “the ideal is to not smoke at all”, he said, adding that e-cigarettes do present a risk to younger children who may try them.

However, France’s health ministry said it is considering enabling doctors to prescribe e-cigarettes to people who may find the measure helpful when trying to quit smoking.

This may also be good news from a cost perspective; Insee said that the price of tobacco soared in May by 9.8% year-on-year. This is the only product that appears unaffected by the lowered rate of inflation and marks the third consecutive monthly rise in tobacco cost.

4. Everybody needs good neighbours: Fête des voisins

The annual Fête des Voisins is taking place on Friday, June 2. The event was created in a bid to “fight individualism in large towns”.

It seeks to encourage people to connect with their neighbours, even if (or especially if) they don’t normally see them.  

Suggestions on how to honour the day include: 

  • Cooking for your neighbours and taking a dish to them, or inviting them round for a bite. 

  • Reaching out to your neighbour to ask if they’d like to play football, basketball; or go for a run around the neighbourhood

  • Inviting them round for a coffee or drink, in a show of friendship, and to offer to set up a system where you can help support each other, such as - for example - bringing in parcels when one of you is away, storing a spare key with them, or gathering local recommendations.

Read also: Scheme lets neighbours earn small fee for receiving parcels in France 

France loves a good ‘fête’, so this could be just the excuse you need to start your weekend off on a happy note. 

More information, advice, and tips can be found on the fête’s official website.

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