Hunting, retirement age: Heated week ahead for French government

This week will also see the start of the winter sales, a truffle festival, the world ice water swimming championship, a trial over a horse meat sale scandal and more

We look at what the week ahead has in store for people in France
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Government responds to calls for Sunday hunting ban

Secretary of State for Ecology Bérangère Couillard has today (January 9) laid out 14 measures aimed at improving the safety of hunting practices in France, not including a ban on Sunday hunts.

Anti-hunt organisations have been calling for a Sunday ban on hunting for some time now, because this is “the day when there are the most accidents”.

The measures put forward by Ms Couillard included the development of an app designed to help members of the public locate hunts taking place near them, stricter penalties for hunters causing accidents and a rollout of standardised signs informing walkers that a hunt is taking place.

Over the last 20 years, the number of hunting accidents has fallen by 46%, and the number of deaths by 74%, the Office français de la biodiversité has said.

However, there were still 90 accidents in the 2021-22 season, and eight deaths. So far this season there have been 35 people injured and three killed.

A recent Ifop survey of 1,000 people representative of the population suggested that 78% of people in France would be in favour of a Sunday hunting ban

Read more: Hunting France: no Sunday ban, an app for walkers.. new plans revealed

President Macron visits Notre-Dame building site

Today President Emmanuel Macron will visit the construction site surrounding Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris, joined by Fumio Kishida, the prime minister of Japan.

Mr Kishida will then begin a tour of Europe and North America to visit the other heads of state in the G7.

Horse meat trial begins

In Marseille 25 people will go on trial today over a scandal involving horses used in a laboratory-farm which ended up being sold to a butcher.

It is strictly forbidden for such horses to be eaten.

The trial is set to last for three weeks, covering charges including ‘deception on the substance of a product’ and ‘false assertions in an administrative document’.

The plaintiffs include Sanofi-Pasteur, France’s Ordre national des vétérinaires, consumer groups and butchers.

The case was first discovered in 2012, when an anonymous letter informed authorities that horses from the Sanofi-Pasteur laboratory in Alban-la-Romaine (Ardèche) were taken to abattoirs in Narbonne, Verona and Barcelona, on behald of Patrick Rochette, a meat wholesaler who supplies around 20 butchers in the south of France.

The animals had been used to produce anti-rabies, anti-tetanus and antivenom medications, and so their meat was not allowed to be sold for human consumption.

Festival de Flamenco in Nîmes

Nîmes’ flamenco festival also begins today, and will last until January 21.

The event involves a range of musical and dance shows involving different themes and artists.

Further information can be found here.

La Grande Odyssée dog sled race continues

La Grande Odyssée dog sled race began on January 7 in Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, and will continue until January 19.

La Grande Odyssée is an annual race which was first launched in 2005, and which has since brought together 65 mushers, 600 dogs and over 50,000 spectators.

The race travels through various alpine resorts, including Valmorel, La Toussuire, Le Corbier and Megève.

It is known to be one of the most difficult events of its kind in the world because of the terrain it covers, its participants being tasked with covering around 750km of mountain routes.

You can find out more here.

Pension reform presented

Prime Minister Élisabeth Borne will present France’s pension reform plan to Parliament tomorrow (January 10), ahead of a debate and potential adoption by the summer.

One of the key aspects of the bill is the government’s wish to raise the retirement age from 62 to 64 or 65.

The government had initially thought to bring the retirement age up to 65 by 2031, although it then added that it could also settle on 64 instead. Government sources have since suggested that the age could be raised to 63 in 2027, and then 64 in 2030.

Basic pensions would also potentially rise to €1,200 per month (75% of minimum wage to 85% of minimum wage).

The plans have been met with criticism from opposition parties and unions.

Read more: ‘Pension age rise in France is unnecessary and will worsen inequality’

Hospital staff called to strike

French union FO Santé has issued an unlimited strike notice beginning tomorrow (January 10) in reaction to the “terrible decline” in the state of the country’s hospitals, and the “inertia of governmental decisions”.

FO Santé has said that it is urgent to “glimpse an exit from this hellish spiral of lacking resources” and to “respond in a dignified and safe fashion to the people arriving in healthcare settings”.

Strain on hospitals has been growing since the autumn as staff shortages continue.

FO Santé is calling for a large-scale recruitment programme of 200,000 health and social care workers.

The union is also opposed to the government’s pension reform bill.

Read also: French GPs set to end strike and return to work

Winter sales begin

France’s winter sales (les soldes d’hiver) are set to begin at 08:00 on Wednesday (January 11), and to finish on Tuesday, February 7, apart from some exceptions.

Sale dates are set nationally in France and not by individual shops or companies.

There are two six-week national soldes periods per year (one in winter, and one in summer) and the dates are set by law.

Shop owners must display the original price of the item as well as the sale price so you can be sure you are getting a genuine deal. Shops can hold other sales throughout the year with dates of their choice but only for a maximum of two weeks.

The dates listed above will apply to almost all of metropolitan France, Martinique, French Guiana and Mayotte, but in Meurthe-et-Moselle, Moselle, Meuse and Vosges, they have already begun.

In these departments, the sales started on January 2, and will end after January 29.

Championnat du monde de nage en eau glacée

On Wednesday, the Championnat du monde de nage en eau glacée (World ice water swimming championships) will begin, running until Sunday.

This event takes place in the Lac aux dames de Samoëns (Haute-Savoie) with 400 competitors from 33 countries taking part.

The water is under 5C and wetsuits are not allowed. Participants take part in races covering 50 to 1,000 metres and involving different strokes.

New president of Grand Est region elected

On Friday (January 13), there will be an election held to choose the new president of the Grand Est region, after the former president Jean Rottner resigned.

The vote will take place during a plenary session of regional councillors at the Hôtel de Région in Metz.

Mr Rottner’s vice president in charge of environmental issues Franck Leroy is expected to be named as the new president. He belongs to Horizons, the centre-right party founded by Édouard Philippe, and has been serving as interim president since Mr Rottner’s resignation.

Fête de la Truffe in Sarlat-la-Canéda

This weekend (January 14-15), the Fête de la Truffe (truffle festival) will take place in Sarlat-la-Canéda (Dordogne), celebrating the diamant noir (black diamond) and foie gras.

The event was created by the Producteurs de Truffes du Périgord Noir and the town of Sarlat, and involves attractions including truffle identification workshops, cooking contests, lectures, markets, tastings and demonstrations.

Sarlat’s restaurants help to offer a sort of truffle and foie gras tapas selection for visitors to try, and it is also possible to learn how to make the traditional culinary dishes of the Périgord.

You can find out more here.

Biennale Internationale des Arts du Cirque

On Thursday (January 12), the Biennale Internationale des Arts du Cirque will begin in Marseille.

This event is run by the Archaos national circus centre, which promotes the creation and development of the circus arts.

The Biennale is held in various locations around Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, although they are centred around Marseille. It has been running since 2015, and involves various shows, lectures and workshops exploring a range of disciplines, from acrobatic dance to puppetry to flying trapeze.

You can find out more about the events on offer here.

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