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French press review 31 December 2011

This morning's French papers, the last of the year two-thousand-and-eleven, devote many of their pages to looking back over the year gone by and forward to the year to come.

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"Greetings from Sarkozy" declares Le Figaro. "The first act of 2012."

The paper says the French President's traditional end of year speech this evening will be the kick-off for a long series of speeches to convince the French people before next year's Presidential election.

The paper notes that Sarkozy has 113 days remaining of his first term as President and is behind his Socialist rival in the opinion polls.

With regard to the current financial crisis, he has chosen not to hide the truth from voters, Le Figaro says. But, there isn't much time to persuade them that he has the right answers.

Libération leads on the Euro - again. One wonders what there's left to say. Nonetheless, the paper manages to fill four inside pages exploring the pros and the cons of the single currency.

Libération
says the Euro has become what it calls "the scapegoat" of the financial crisis. For those who don't know what a scapegoat is, it's rather like a sacrificial lamb.

Dossier: Eurozone in crisis

In a rather opaque editorial, the paper worries that Europe is what it calls "a democratic hologram". Meaning - I assume - without genuine substance.

The European project continues for its citizens but without them. The backlash may be resurgent nationalism.

The Euro was created either to solve that problem or - perhaps - to brush it under the carpet.Now it is held hostage, the paper concludes, and could become the first victim.

Aujourd'hui en France also consider the Euro, but it a rather more down to earth fashion. "It's often accused of provoking massive price rises," the paper says. "We investigate . . ."

Aujourd'hui's conclusion ? "For the consumer the results are mixed." Filling a shopping trolley with groceries and calculating the cost before the Euro, a decade ago and today,  the paper finds that prices have risen by 22 per cent.

Still there is no great enthusiasm in France for a return to the old currency - the French franc. Even among Presidential candidates fishing for votes, Aujourd'hui reminds readers - only two candidates from the extreme right - favour winding back the clock and ditching the Euro.

The Catholic Daily La Croix considers what it calls "The increasing desire for calm in our society." Not least after the fury of news in two-thousand-and-eleven.

And it devotes pages two to nine of the paper to suggesting where we might find it.

Examples include the silent cinema, monasteries, a cabin in the forest, performing tai-qi-chuan on a deserted beach, reading poetry, walking the dog in the snow. All of which sound very enticing.

Away from the French capital, the papers are rather more lively this morning.

The front page headline in La Marseillaise is "Afghanistan - this war that lasts too long."

The paper reports the killing in Afghanistan this week of two soldiers of the French Foreign Legion.

Dossier: AfPak news and analysis

Their deaths, it says, call into question once again the usefulness of Nato's intervention there. Which, La Marseillaise observes, has solved nothing since the war began in 2001.

Nice Matin meanwhile gives an insight into its readers' pre-occupations.

Asked to choose the most important news story of the year from a list of 5, including the G20 summit, floods on the Cote d'Azur and the marriage of Prince Albert of Monaco - the closest France has to a Royal soap opera - readers voted overwhelmingly for the killing of a jeweller during a robbery.

Evidently, violent crime is a worry in France's Mediterranean playground.

Finally, this being France on New Year's Eve festive food rates more than a little coverage.

Le Républicain Lorrain leads its front page with what it calls "The Stars of the Table". This year, the paper confides, poultry and fish are preferred to game. Needless to say, foie gras remains essential.

Happily, the Nantes Daily Presse Océan reassures readers that despite a high mortality rate in the Atlantic beds where they are cultivated - as ever - that other essential star of New Year's Eve - Oysters - will be inviting themselves to the feast.

Bon appétit and a Happy New Year to everyone !

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