It was not all bad: Five positive French news stories to start weekend

From five big cats being saved from a circus to a 12-year-old boy’s rescue from a well, we round up the happy stories from this week

A four-way photo showing, clockwise, a music concert, ugly vegetables, a lion and a graphic representing economic growth
A good news story this week saw a food bank in France save fruit and veg waste from the bin and prepare it into easy-to-cook healthy bags for locals
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Concerts translated into sign language for deaf people

A collective in France, 10 Doigts en cavale, translates concerts and festival shows for deaf people, so they can experience the music too.

The co-founders ‘chansigne (sing-sign)’ the words of the songs and communicate their tempo so that deaf people can best understand the music.

Aurélie Nahon, co-founder, told The Connexion: “When we started this four years ago, there were only three of us. Sign language at concerts isn’t common in France, but it’s becoming more so.

“In the US, if someone that’s hearing-impaired asks for it beforehand, concert organisers have been required to provide them with an interpreter since the 90s. In France, sometimes you don’t even have sign interpreters when politicians are speaking.”

She said the sign interpreters “really adapt LSF (French Sign Language) to convey the feel and meaning of the music”.

She added the group is always looking for more interpreters because it is getting more work than it can handle.

She said: “Last month, we were doing four concerts at the same time.”

France’s economy grew better than expected

The French economy grew more than expected in the second quarter of the year, at 0.5%. This was largely due to good export levels - particularly for transport materials - as the purchasing power of households remains low, said national statistics bureau Insee.

The growth outstripped predictions of a 0.1% growth for the period between April and June. Speaking to RTL, Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire said that the growth was “a remarkable performance that shows the success of the economic policy that we have embarked on since 2017”.

Boy, 12, rescued after four hours stuck in a well

A 12-year-old boy has been saved after getting stuck in a well for four hours in Savoie on Wednesday (July 26). The boy became stuck in the 12-metre hole after lowering himself into the well with a rope.

However, he was then injured and buried by falling rocks and rubble. The well was on land belonging to the boy’s parents.

It took 40 firefighters, gendarmerie, Samu, and mountain rescue personnel to get him out of the well in Coise-Saint-Jean-Pied-Gauthier, around 30 km from Chambéry.

Deputy head of the mountain rescue team, Michel Pugin, told FranceBleu: “We dug and dug until he could see our lights through a little hole. But the walls were collapsing slowly, which made it difficult. Luckily we were able to speak to him, and he had been talking to his parents through a radio.

“We also put a bit of music on to calm the atmosphere down.”

The boy was saved at around 20:00 after four hours and was taken to hospital with mild hypothermia.

Food waste limited by fruit and veg food initiative

A food bank in northwest France has created a new ‘legumerie’ to avoid waste and improve local people’s diets. It takes damaged and unsold fruit and vegetables that are still suitable to eat, and turns them into ready-to-cook packages.

The Banque Alimentaire Sarthe distributes more than 900 tonnes of goods every year, working in partnership with 109 organisations, to benefit more than 15,500 people in 2022.

In April this year, it decided to act on fruit and vegetable waste and create vacuum bags of peeled, washed, and pre-chopped vegetables for people to take home. This keeps the veg fresher for longer, avoids it from being thrown away, and makes it easier and quicker for people to cook.

Lucie Rioul, general manager of the food bank, told Actu Le Mans: “We saw that we had waste and we wanted to see what we could do about it. The association works against waste by picking up goods, but we wanted to go further.

“On average, we prepare 350 kilos per week, depending on how much we get. It also helps people eat well, and fits in well with our mission to help improve our users’ nutritional balance.”

Four lions and a tiger rescued from a circus

An animal rescue association has rescued five big cats from a circus due to “several irregularities”.

The Tonga Terre d’Accueil rescue centre said the operation needed around 50 gendarmerie and animal welfare inspectors after specialist vets from the ZooParc de Beauval had previously sedated the animals and put them into specially-designed transportation crates.

The animals arrived at the centre in St-Martin-la-Plaine, and all are doing well, the rescue centre said.

The four lionesses - aged around 13 - had had their claws removed, but otherwise “seem in good health”, the centre said, although still need to “put on a bit of muscle”.

However, the tiger - also a female, aged 11 - is suffering from a skin condition, the cause of which is not yet known. It could be due to “poor food, illness, or linked to her lifestyle conditions”, the centre said. They are now waiting for test results before hopefully proceeding to treatment.

It comes as circuses in France are transitioning away from using wild animals in their acts after the government has introduced rules that will gradually ban them completely.

Read more: Wild animals to be banned from shows in France – where will they go?

Tonga Terre d’Accueil said that they suspected a lack of animal traceability at the circus, and said there was no ‘resting’ area nor access to outside space for the animals, despite this being obligatory.

The centre said: “Fortunately [seizures like this] remain the exception. We want to reassure circuses of our support in their transition to the end of wild animal shows and will work with them to find solutions for the placement of their animals.

“It is much calmer to proceed with voluntary surrenders before reaching the stage of legal proceedings as is the case today. Thanks to the support of the authorities and the government, our refuge is planning to build new accommodation for circus lions and tigers.

“We can assure owners that their animals will be pampered by our team, and will enjoy a happy retirement. In a few days' time, they will discover their outdoor space and will be able to feel the grass under their paws for the first time.”

The association welcomes any kind of donations, as caring for the animals costs €100 per week per animal, it said. After the animals are ‘back on their paws’, they will be transported to a suitable zoo.

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It was not all bad: Five positive French news stories this week
It was not all bad: Four positive French news stories
It was not all bad: Five positive French news stories
It was not all bad: Five good news stories from France this week