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French weekly magazines review 18 December 2016


There's not a lot of Christmas cheer in evidence on the front pages of this week's magazines. You can choose between Russia on the eve of the centenary of the 1917 revolution, or France's spies, or the malaise in the meat industry. Scrooge would probably approve.


You could hardly accuse the nation's magazine editors of allowing themselves to be overcome by the spirit of Christmas.

Here we are, just a week from the end of the consumerist orgy which marks the darkest days of winter in the northern hemisphere, and what do we get?

L'Express gives us Russian President Vladimir Putin, the sort of jolly old soul without whom no Christmas festivities would be complete. Ask anyone in east Aleppo.

Le Point seem to have lost the plot completely with a cover devoted to the history of the French secret services, complete with a photo of one of the agents involved in the scheme to blow up the Greenpeace vessel Rainbow Warrior. That, since you've almost certainly forgotten, was in 1985. And it didn't happen at Christmas.

Feasting for the fastidious

Le Monde's magazine does offer a gastronomic special, but only the unreformed Scrooge is likely to be pleased by their meat-free, sugar-free, fat-free fare. Undoubtedly good for the health, but Le Monde's advertising, dominated by foie gras and whiskies, gives the game away. Few but the very poor or the very vegan will be happy to munch lentil salad as their festive feast.

Marianne goes the whole hog, with a cover story offering to tell us everything we need (and quite a few things we don't need) to know about the French meat industry, ostensibly to save the producers who are being squeezed out of existence, according to Marianne, by the rapacious barons of the meat industry. Enjoy your spiced beef, if you can!

Tidings of good cheer and fellowship

Le Nouvel Observateur seemed to be making a real effort, with a cover devoted to the power of French Catholics.

At last, halleluiah!, an article recognising the distant message of brotherhood and goodwill on which the festival of Christmas is, believe it or not, originally based.


L'Obs is worried about a group officially accounting for 60 percent of the French population who admit to having any religion, who have shown their teeth in the effort to defeat the law allowing marriage for everyone and who, crucially, proved their political clout in helping François Fillon win the recent right-wing primary.

Culturally, socially and politically, these newly active conservatives are united, determined and inflexible. An open, multicultural, modern society is not the first of their priorities.

Royal plays Santa to shareholders

Thankfully, there's the weekly satirical paper Le Canard Enchaîné, with a seasonal tale of generosity.

When Environment Minister Ségolène Royal boasted 18 months ago that she had forced the owners of the nation's motorways to accept a 12-month freeze of their charges, she forgot to mention a clause in the original deal under which the roads were privatised.

Under said clause, the owners and their shareholders would be entitled to 500 million euros in compensation in the event of any freeze being imposed on their charges on motorists.

Asked earlier this month what she felt about a situation in which taxpayers were being asked to reimburse shareholders for a move intended to save what remains of the taxpayers' tattered shirts, Ségolène said, "I do not agree with this decision by the government."

Except that the original deal, guaranteeing the half billion euros in compensation, was signed by none other than Ségolène "Santa Claus" Royal, the environment minister being responsible for the transport sector.

If you are a shareholder in one of the companies operating the French motorways, companies which last year distributed 3.3 billion euros in dividends despite the freeze on charges, we wish you a merry Christmas and a prosperous new year.

If you are stuck in a traffic jam on one of those motorways, patiently waiting to make your contribution to next year's profits, we wish you a safe journey.

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