Storms, UK tension, fake passes: Your Monday French news catch-up

Weekend roundup: A nurse under investigation for creating a fake vaccination certificate, floods devastate parts of southwestern France and UK issues more French fishing licences...

A grid of four images: the French health pass, cars in flood water, a fishing boat off Brittany and the capital of New Caledonia
Our roundup of weekend stories
Published Last updated

1. French nurse faces five years in jail for issuing fake health pass

A 55-year-old nurse has been accused of providing a fake vaccination certificate to an unvaccinated man, and both now face prison sentences of up to five years.

The now suspended nurse had been working in a vaccination centre in Béziers (Hérault), and is alleged to have pretended to give a vaccination dose to a 34-year-old teacher in June before creating the certificate.

The man is said to have openly told his friends and family about the fraud, and the vaccination centre was eventually alerted by an anonymous tip-off.

The man said that he “did not trust” the vaccine, but “needed to have a health pass within the context of his musical activities.”

The nurse said that she had only issued a fake certificate to this single patient, who she knew from outside the vaccination centre, to do him “a favour”.

This follows the death of a 57-year-old woman with Covid in a Paris hospital, after she presented doctors with a fake vaccination certificate, delaying the correct treatment.

Read more about this story here

2. Residents evacuated following floods and landslide in southwest France

The French Interior Ministry has confirmed that a state of natural disaster will be declared in southwest France, following floods and a landslide in the Pays Basque and surrounding areas.

It is thought that the floodwaters could remain for up to 15 days, after first hitting the region on Friday (December 10), causing a landslide which submerged a car in Biriatou (Pyrénées-Atlantiques).

The landslide also threatened some homes, leading to the evacuation of residents in Bidassoa.

Read more: Floods and landslide in southwest France: Disaster insurance granted

Read more: Man saved in ‘miracle’ rescue amid floods in southwest France

3. UK issues more fishing licences amid mounting tensions

The UK and Jersey have agreed to issue further licences to French fishing boats entering British waters after tensions over the number originally granted.

An EU deadline of midnight on Friday (December 10) for the conclusion of talks on fishing licences appeared to expire without a breakthrough, but the UK government later confirmed that Environment Secretary George Eustice and European Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevičius agreed on the issuing of additional small-boat licences.

Over the weekend, some 18 more licences were granted to vessels which had presented “new evidence” of having previously fished in British waters, and seven more boats were still being considered. Jersey offered licences to five more boats.

France had suggested that it might seek legal action and trade restrictions against the UK if an acceptable solution was not reached by the EU deadline.

France’s European Affairs Minister Clément Beaune said this morning (December 13) that 93% of requested licences had now been granted but: “We still need a few dozen licences. No fisherman will be left behind.

“By Wednesday we will have a meeting with the fishermen to see how to secure the remaining licences.”

French fishermen were still threatening over the weekend to continue with a blockade of British goods moving through Calais.

To be granted a licence by the UK, fishing boat operators must be able to prove that they fished in British waters for at least one day each year between 2012 and 2016.

4. Paris-Lourdes night train service resumes

Night train services between Paris and Lourdes via Tarbes resumed after a five-year-long hiatus last night (Sunday, December 12).

The service had been discontinued because it was unprofitable, but a government initiative is now pushing SNCF to relaunch its night trains.

Paris-Nice began again in May 2021 and the Paris-Lourdes line will be extended to Hendaye next summer.

“I hope that we will have around 10 national night train lines by 2030,” said Transport Minister Jean-Baptiste Djebbari. In order to achieve this, the government will need to source new train carriages, and has already given €100million to fund the renovation of old, unused cars.

The Paris-Lourdes service left Austerlitz last night at 21:51, and arrived in Lourdes at 07:43. The train will depart from Lourdes this evening at 19:56 and reach Paris by 07:09. Tickets start at €19.

5. New Caledonia votes against independence in referendum

The New Caledonian people have voted against independence from France in a third referendum on the matter.

Some 96.49% of voters decided that they would not want to become independent, but the turnout of the archipelago’s 185,000 electors was only 41.6% by 17:00 local time yesterday (December 12).

Pro-independence campaigners boycotted the vote, claiming that a “fair campaign” was impossible amid the Covid pandemic and demanding that the referendum be postponed until September.

The inhabitants of New Caledonia had been asked to vote in a similar referendum in 2018 and then again last year.

This latest result could aggravate ethnic tensions in the archipelago, as the indigenous Kanak community generally favours independence while the white community opposes it.

Pro-independence movement, the Kanak Socialist National Liberation Front said that the government’s decision to go ahead with the referendum despite Covid was a “declaration of war.”

Following the vote, President Emmanuel Macron declared that New Caledonia would remain French, despite the fact that the islands’ electors “remained profoundly divided.”

“This evening, France is more beautiful, since New Caledonia has decided to stay with her,” the president said.

Related stories

Trains, planes, ferries, Covid rules: Nine France travel updates

Election 2022, Telethon, tests to visit France: 5 Monday updates