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French press review 24 December 2012

The Christmas Spirit is alive and well among French newspapers, offering advice on everything from last-minute shopping tips to the types of insects living in (real) Christmas trees.


Today is 24th December and as you may know, people here in France tend to celebrate Christmas on Christmas Eve, with presents being opened at midnight. Unsurprisingly, most of the front newspaper pages here are very Christmasy.

Catholic La Croix is headlining "Christmas lights". It went to meet some of the volunteers who have been working with the less fortunate to celebrate the nativity. The theme this year is: "What if Jesus was born today in your country", and the paper features answers by people from Brazil, India, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Canada and many more.

Most of them say they believe he would bring peace. La Croix also looks at why Christmas is a time for renewed hope. It also says that solidarity and friendship should not be a "Christmas time occurrence" only.

The left leaning Libération is also carrying a positive vibe this Christmas Eve. It has dubbed today's edition "The Libé of solutions", focusing on employment, housing and culture. It is, in fact, a double edition ahead of Christmas day. The paper recommends ways to avoid waste during the holiday period.

It also explains how being Santa Claus, specifically people who dress up as Santa Claus and get photos taken with children in department stores and shopping centres, is a difficult job. Potential Santas have to go through an exhaustive process before they are hired to sit for hours with screaming kids and frustrated shoppers.

The French tabloidAujourd'hui en France is dishing out advice on how to buy the right present at the last minute. The paper offers three simple rules: be efficient in the shops; order online; or make the gift yourself.

On a less savoury note, Aujourd'hui en France also features an article titled “your special Christmas tree guests”, all about the different insects living in your (real) Christmas trees.

If you've got a hefty amount of cash to spend on your nearest and dearest, Le Figaro reports that possessions of the former Tunisian president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali are being auctioned. Cars, jewellery, elaborate ornaments and other luxury items are all going under the hammer. Tunisian authorities are holding the auction and the money raised will be used to light up Tunisian villages, build roads and fund school buses.

Still on the Christmas spirit, Le Figaro reports on Pope Benedict XVI pardoning his butler who was convicted of leaking confidential information on the Vatican. In addition, the right wing paper reviews some of the biggest news stories of the year. Big events included François Hollande’s election as French President; Barack Obama’s re-election; the Austrian Felix Baumgartner’s world-record breaking skydive; and the London Olympics. Not so happy news events included shootings in the south of France carried out by Mohamed Merah; the closure of Peugeot-Citroën factories in France; and the ongoing Syrian crisis.

Finally, let's talk about a new drinking law being considered here in France. Authorities are looking at ways to reduce the number of people killed on the roads due to drink driving, and they are targeting young people. They have suggested a zero alcohol limit for drivers between 18 and 24 years old. Aujourd'hui en France wonders whether this move would work.

On that note, be safe and have a very Merry Christmas.

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