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French press review 4 February 2012

Optimistic US job creation figures, French troops' early withdrawal from Afghanistan, Russian opposition rally, Queen Elizabeth’s diamond jubilee and the most expensive painting ever sold…. These are the stories dominating Saturday’s editions of the French dailies


We begin with Le Figaro’s front page editorial. It examines the early withdrawal of French troops from Afghanistan. The French decision, triggered by the cold-blooded killing of four soldiers by an Afghan recruit was “a shock” to the Nato coalition, writes the paper. “What’s the point of playing extra time when we know that we will leave in any case?” concludes the article.

Dossier: AfPak news and analysis

President Barack Obama’s economy turnaround plan might just be succeeding. The better than expected job gains feature prominently on the front page of the daily. In January the American economy created 243,000 jobs and the unemployment figures are at their lowest since 2009.

The burst of job growth gives Obama a fresh opportunity to revise the grim economic narrative of his presidency, ahead of the presidential elections, says the paper.

“China does not want to buy Europe,” assured Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao during a meeting with Angela Merkel. Le Figaro’s business section covers the German chancellor’s visit to China.

According to the article, it looks as if China may help Europe out of its economic crisis. It cannot afford the collapse of its first export market.

Ahead of Saturday’s massive protests in Moscow against Vladimir Putin, left-leaning Libération publishes a powerful profile of Boris Akunin.

The popular Russian writer became one of the unifying forces of the new Russian opposition after the rigged legislative elections last December.

“The time has come to put aside our personal differences and restore democracy in Russia”, he says. “I am going to protest because I do not want to spend the rest of my life in regret and shame.”

It’s freezing COOLD! exclaims Aujourd’hui en France on its front page, featuring a photo of the northern town of Lille under snow.

Did you know that freezing cold has immense benefits? Here’s the list compiled by the daily:

  • Cold and sunny weather is like light therapy improving your morale;
  • It eliminates the microbes and makes our immune system stronger;
  • We burn more calories and lose weight, since to keep the body temperature at 37°C we draw on our fat reserves;
  • And it helps the economy by saving the January sales and boosting the commerce of winter-related items!

On its business pages, Aujourd’hui en France looks into a new trend in business and leisure travel. Instead of staying in a hotel, why not rent a privately owned flat or a house via a specialised website?

The idea seems to be a hit. It provides quality budget accommodation to travellers and an income supplement to flat-owners.

Le Figaro gives two full pages to British Queen Elizabeth’s diamond jubilee. The most glamorous of French royal editors describes the day Elizabeth became queen.

“Strange as it may sound, Elizabeth was the last to learn that she became the queen of the most glorious nation on Earth.” When her father king George VI died, the future queen was taking pictures of wild animals in Kenya. The author concludes, “Never in 60 years has the Queen failed in her duty as a figurehead.”

And, finally, the most expensive painting ever sold! Le Figaro et Vous supplement reveals that in 2011 royal Qatari family bought Paul Cézanne’s Joueurs de Cartes (Card players) from a Greek ship owners family for a staggering 190 million euros.

“The acquisition shows the extent of the Emirate’s ambitions”, claims the daily. The painting will have pride of place at the newly built Qatar National Museum, which will open in 2013.

The Royal family hopes that its art collection will rival Paris's  Musée d’Orsay or New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art. As you can see, Qatar's ambitions do not stop with hosting the 2022 World Cup!

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