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French press review 22 December 2012

Text by: William Niba
5 min

The papers are all about the small French village of Bugarach in the southern region of l’Aude. The hilly enclave was stormed by journalists from around the world on Friday after being rumoured to be one of the few places that would be spared in the apocalypse. The focus was on the Pic de Bugarach, a nearby mountain where people had been expected to survive if the world had come to an end as prophesied in the Mayan Calendar.


“Apocalypse carnival nears end” crows Le Figaro underlining the decision by local authorities to maintain security measures to keep New Age fanatics away for another day. Police had wrongly anticipated a mass influx of visitors and blocked access to the village and the mountain, which some say will open on the last day and aliens will emerge with spaceships to save nearby humans.

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For the 184th time, the prophesy has failed says Le Figaro except that it was a windfall for the 197 inhabitants of the tiny village to enjoy a bit of stardom in the wake of the unprecedented media attention focused on their hometown.

Libération reports that television journalists who took Bugarach by storm hoping to immortalize the apocalypse show ended up having only themselves to film. Some, according to the paper turned their frustration on the mayor, accusing him of being the mastermind of the hoax.

But according to the Libé, the mayor fired back saying he didn’t ask anyone to come, adding that it is the press that created the hype.

The mystery around the famous Pic of Bugarach ended up falling flat says Aujourd’hui en France, explaining that more than one hundred gendarmes around the site managed to arrest only two men wearing gas masks and carrying machetes in their car

La Croix, comments about the hullaballoo, with a note of humour. It’s quite strange, it says, to write about the end of the world knowing that the article will be read after.

According to the Catholic Daily, there is a real passion for the world to come to an end. The paper reassures those praying for it that “it will certainly come some day, maybe in a few billion years time when the sun will stop giving us light, heating us up free of charge and when the human being and all his works and inventions will be swallowed up by glaciers."

For La Croix, Friday was an opportunity to look back at the “missed opportunities of our world; the misery and inequalities piling up around us, the crimes of the super powerful, obscene wealth, selfishness of unparalleled scale, and an unprecedented spiral of hatred and violence.”

As a sign of the times, La Croix has special thoughts for the christians of Syria who it says will be spending Christmas without peace.

Aujourd’hui en France also looks at the “annus horribilis” facing the opposition UMP party. After the ravages caused by the leadership dispute, the movement is devastated by news just in that the national commission on campaign accounts has found irregularities in ex-President Nicolas Sarkozy’s spending of state-provided funds.

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According to the paper Sarkozy’s statement of account does not take into consideration the budgets of several rallies he held before declaring his candidacy which would tip the campaign budget over the 22.5 million euro spending ceiling set by the electoral campaigns watchdog.

Le Figaro
says Sarkozy has filed an appeal with the constitutional court. Libération says that the ruling party could lose up to 11 million euros in public funding, if France’s highest court upholds the invalidation of Sarkozy’s campaign accounts.

The controversy sparked by the “fiscal exile” of film maker Gérard Depardieu to Belgium has taken a disturbing twist says Le Figaro. It reports that a cream of young corporate bosses are fleeing the fiscal pressure exerted in France.

Libération and Aujourd’hui en France found out that the cultural sector is divided over the so-called Depardieu affair after speaking to leading figures in the film making industry.

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