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French weekly magazines review 6 September 2015


This week's magazines take an appreciative look at French wines, a more critical glance at French politicians and a totally damning view of wind farms, allegedly causing headaches, migraines and heartbreak for those who live near them.


Wine is the dominant theme this morning. With the 2015 grape harvest due to start any day now, two weekly magazines, Le Point and L'Express, offer a combined 191 pages of advice on how to profit from the traditional wine fairs at French supermarkets.

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There is a hint that French spending power is not what it was. Le Point kindly identifies 119 decent wines at less than 10 euros a bottle. But there's still a sense that the crisis is happening somewhere else. Wine-drinking France is doing very nicely, thank you.

My personal favourite is listed in L'Express: a 2008 Burgundy from the Château Etienne Sauzet, described by the magazine as "incomparable, of a superlative finesse, a total harmony". All that for just 240 euros a bottle.

Or just about the price of a pair of jeans in Luanda, Angola, identified by the American agency Mercer as the most expensive place in the world for expatriate workers. Luanda leaves Hong Kong and Zurich in second and third. Paris is the 46th most expensive capital city.

Satirical paper Le Canard Enchaîné welcomes the return of the nation's political class from their summer holidays with a headline announcing "Chaos and confusion".

Over the summer, according to the irreverent weekly, the Green party has exploded, the divisions between Socialist rulers and rebels have continued to widen, the far right Front National is bleeding from the Le Pen family feud and preparations for the mainstream conservative presidential primary are starting to look about as friendly as a Sicilian knife fight.

Le Canard doesn't expect things to get any better as the politicians return to the crucial business of ensuring their own electoral futures.

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Weekly magazine Marianne limits its review of the summer truce to the observation that the Socialist Party has continued its inexorable drift away from true left wing principles, mainly driven by President François Hollande's shift to open economic liberalism.

The Socialists are now committed to protecting business, enforcing responsibility and ensuring stability. Whatever happened, wonders Marianne, to the fight for social justice or the struggle against inequality?

Over at Le Figaro Magazine, they don't like wind farms. You might have thought that electricity generated by the hi-tech equivalent of the ancient windmill was an undisguised blessing, being clean, renewable and with no nuclear components.

According to the right-wing magazine, you'd have been wrong. Wind generators disfigure the countryside, they force down house prices, have encouraged corruption and are not, in fact, all that good for your health.

Le Figaro's front-page headline describes them simply as "A Scandal"!

France currently has 5,500 wind generators, producing about four per cent of the nation's electricity. The government hopes to double that capacity over the next five years. But not everyone is overjoyed, certainly not those who live in the shadow of the giant machines.

Apart from the fact that they are hard to disguise, windmills have given some of their detractors headaches, migraines and heartbreak.

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They are noisy and the turning blades can create a stroboscopic effect in neighbouring houses, leaving the residents suffering from dizziness, nausea and depressioin.

According to Le Figaro, the medical rules about the positioning of wind generators in relation to human habitation are a lot more strict in Germany and Australia.

The public health implications have been kept out of the public debate here in France. So far, citizens' action groups have managed to slow down wind farm development at several sites, most of them considered tourist attractions or specialised wildlife habitats.

A court in the southern city of Montpellier has ordered that 10 existing turbines be taken down; that order is currently being contested by the company that installed the machines for the national electricty company. The battle and the debate continue.

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