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French press review 31 July 2013

France hails it winning swimmer. What's Merkel's popularity secret? The french right shifts righter. And the weather and the economic crisis take their toll on France's tourism industry.

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The same name appears on most front pages today: Yannick Agnel.

The French swimmer took the gold in the 200m freestyle race at the World Championship yesterday in Barcelona.

London Olympic Games 2012

Le Figaro, Libération, Aujourd’hui en France, L'Humanité and, obviously, the sports daily L'Equipe all publish a picture of the victor, as Agnel adds the men's 200m freestyle world title to his growing collection at the swimming world championships, demolishing a powerful field in yesterday’s final.

L’Equipe’s headline reads “Invincible”, as it gives a detailed portrait of the swimmer, who, a year after his Olympic triumph in London, confirmed his status of champion, giving France a fourth medal in the Barcelona championship.

Agnel clocked 1min 44.20 seconds, more than a second ahead of American Conor Dwyer who finished second and Russia's Danila Izotov adrift in third, reports the daily.

Right-wing Le Figaro also headlines with a story on German Chancellor Angela Merkel who, 50 days before Germany’s September general elections, is projected to win a third term, as her popularity is still at impressively high.

National polls are saying the chancellor is seen as a solid favourite in the upcoming elections, says Le Figaro, while President François Hollande is trying to develop France’s relationship with its German partners, who are generally sceptical and unimpressed by the Socialist president’s policies.

In France municipal elections are approaching and left-wing Libération takes a look at the growing similarity between the statements by politicians from the mainstream right UMP  and those of the far right.

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Regardless of the official UMP line, its more conservative members are increasingly attracted by “the flame”, the papers says, referring to the symbol of Marine Le Pen's Front National (FN).

There is an ideological porosity that did not exist until now, explains Libération, with the  UMP increasingly taking up issues favoured by FN, such as immigration.

Supporters of the self-styled "uninhibited right" are growing in numbers, says the daily, adding that the UMP will not escape, ultimately, a deep questioning of its political ideas, positions and identity.

Tabloid Aujourd’hui en France publishes a pretty negative report on French tourism in July.

July's figures are pretty disappointing, says the daily, as French and foreign tourists, discouraged by the rotten weather and the economic crisis, have proved pretty rare in the usually packed vacation spots.

“Where did all the tourists go?” wonders the paper, pointing out that French tourists are staying home for the holidays, either because of the weather or shortage of cash.

Tourism professionals say that, if there’s a major improvement in August, they may still be able to make up for their losses.

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