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French press review 13 August 2012

Text by: Vladimir Smekhov
5 min

France’s performance in the Olympics comes under scrutiny in the French press. As do President François Hollande’s first hundred days in office. And the Republican presidential campaign in the United States also receives coverage in the French press.


“IMMORTALS !” celebrates L’Equipe on its front page. The paper hails the victory of the French handball team at the Olympics. The popular sports daily dubs them “The Experts” in reference to the US basketball Dream Team. “From now on, gloats the paper, The Experts have become the best team in the history of French sports”. In its editorial, reminiscent of the period of French football glory days, the paper calls them “Giants”.

The left-leaning L’Humanite leads with a controversial title, “The Games challenge the Olympic spirit.” “Could gigantism be the enemy of the Olympic games’ spirit?” asks the paper.

In an article which stands apart from its fellow news outlets, the daily says that the motto of the games, “faster, higher, stronger” contradicts the Games’ modern founding father’s legacy that dictates, the most important thing is not to win but to take part!”.

The left-leaning daily denounces pharaonic costs of organising modern Games. “14 billion euros for london, 11.5 billion of Rio”, the daily points out the paradox: “As sport becomes universal, the games’ organisation is now reserved to a very limited number of cities…which puts in danger the original spirit of sharing, of piece”.

London Olympic Games 2012


To correct this inequality, the daily proposes some rather radical recipes. Reduce the Games’ format meaning chucking out BMX, beach volleyball and other marginal but costly disciplines. Make sponsors finance the Games infrastructure such as sports equipment or public transport. Pay the volunteers instead of abusing their generosity. And if the above solutions do not work, there is a last one: limit the Olympic Games to a single venue. Guess which one L’Humanite puts forward: “The only place would do: Athens”. What else?

To politics now. On its front page, the left wing Liberation assesses the results of the French President’s first 100 days in the office. “Normal or cushy?”, asks the paper. In an editorial, the paper says that “the French have difficulty understanding in which direction Hollande is taking them.” The editor raises the alarm by saying that when the country is facing a recession and new social catastrophes, it is quick to explain to the nation the “sense of the national effort.”

The left wing daily’s lead pages were without a doubt inspired by a survey commissioned by its fellow right wing paper, Le Figaro, earlier in the week. According to it, 54 percent of the French were not satisfied with Hollande’s performance as a President, against the 46 percent who are quite content.

In its analysis of the study, Liberation blasts the lack of structural reforms which should have been launched in the first hundred days in government, usually the most favourable to any elected president. The paper implores the President to accelerate the movement on the “highway” of both left-dominated Parliament and Senate offered to him by the voters.

To American politics now. The conservative Le Figaro hails Romney’s choice of vice presidential running mate as “an audacious gamble”. The paper’s editorial estimates that Paul Ryan’s entry into the presidential campaign will turn the combat into a “duel between two radically opposed conceptions of America’s future”: Obama’s welfare state against a new vision of reducing the federal state to ensure new prosperity.

The editorial predicts that the Republicans will be accused of playing the game of the rich. The results of this true “in-depth debate” will have far reaching consequences, which will be felt all the way to France.

The popular Aujourd’hui en France features a first ever dromedary race, which took place yesterday in the Sarthe region in France’s north-west. “8 dromedaries galloping on a horse racecourse”, exclaims the paper. According to the article, the public was not not deceived by the show. “I find it extraordinary. It’s both funny and eccentric”, said one of the 2500 visitors. The only disappointment in the race, according to the organiser Olivier Philiponneau, is that the maximum speed reached in the race was 40 kilometers per hour “Their Tunisian or Qatari colleagues reach 70 kilometers per hour”. But the dromadery race has its dangers. “This is an adorable animal, but it can go crazy like a horse. In that case, it becomes a rodeo”, says the organiser.

And to end this review on a musical note, Aujourd’hui en France reveals to its viewers a new Canadian popstar, Carly Rae Jepsen “Her name probably means nothing to you, says the paper, but her latest hit could not have escaped you. The paper reveals a funny story about the Canadian star: in 2007 she was a finalist in the French reality TV show, New Star. Though she did not win the French TV show, she certainly won international acclaim: she has sold almost 7 million copies of her single and has broken Lady Gaga’s single longevity record.

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