French press review 12 August 2014

It's Francois Hollande's birthday today! And while some newspapers are taking stock of the holiday season in France, others are looking at immigrants and car-sharing.


La Croix is talking about illegal immigrants that are occupying a building in the suburbs of Paris. According to the Catholic daily, about 200 migrants are occupying a building that used to be a job centre in Bagnolet. Most of the men are from Mali, but others are from Senegal, Guinea and Côte d'Ivoire. Some are in France after fleeing from Libya in 2011. The men used to live in a home for refugees, but were evicted about 6 months ago, says the paper.

That's when they decided to unite and ask for a place to live, as well as for legal documents to stay in France. They asked the mayor to help them, but he refused arguing the city had no room, or money to spare. Yacouba Camara, one of the migrants, says he has seen it all in France. Quoted by the paper he says "They tell us there is no solution, that Bagnolet is too poor... but that's why we are we are poor too."

La Croix says their first priority is to obtain their legal documents, because, as they say, without an ID in France you're worth less than a dog.

Le Figaro is celebrating someone's birthday today. He is turning sixty, has the name of a Dutch province and is very unpopular... It’s François Hollande. And the fact that it’s his birthday that does not stop the right wing newspaper from criticising him. "What do you think about when you turn 60? What do you think when 73% of the French don't trust you?" reads the paper? And it does not stop there. Le Figaro goes on to list the challenges Hollande will face when he goes back to work in September. They include the rise in unemployment, the lack of growth and the lack of support from his ruling Socialist Party. “Happy Birthday Mister President,” writes Le Figaro.

The summer holidays are less popular in France. That’s at least what the Communist L'Humanité reports this morning. Apparently, the month of July was not so great for the tourism industry. And it's not because of the weather, which was fine for nearly the entire month. For example, the very popular southern region of the Bouches du Rhone saw 8% less tourists compared to last year. Even Croatia that is normally very popular saw a decrease of 30% in the number of French tourists this year.

According to L'Humanité this is due to the economic crisis. First, there are a lot of people who have decided to stay at home for the summer. But it also says those who do decide to go away travel on a budget. The director of a restaurant in Nice says most people have stopped drinking wine and some even share a meal for two. If this trend stays the same in August, this could become a problem for France, as tourism is one of the biggest industries in the country.

Today's Libération is asking what made car-sharing so popular in France. According to the left-leaning newspaper, more than 3 million people have already shared a car with a stranger to go somewhere. So to find out what it is like Libé takes the road with 3 people, travelling from Paris to Bordeaux. Of course, most of those who chose to use car-share services do it because it is cheaper. Dan was interviewed by the newspaper and says he only paid 40 euros both ways to go to Bordeaux. By train, the price would have been double, he says.

But money is not the only factor that explains why car-sharing is so popular. Stéphanie Vincent Geslin, a sociologist, says that it's also about conviviality. "The idea is to talk to each other and to meet people," she says.

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