Podcast: France's youngest mayor, billionaires' relationship to power, and banning the green fairy

Audio 26:27
Spotlight on France episode 34
Spotlight on France episode 34 © RFI

France's youngest mayor on breathing fresh air into old, local politics. French billionaires and their relationship to power and politics. And when France banned absinthe during the First World War.


Mayors are by far the most popular elected officials in France, particularly in small towns where people know them personally. In charge of managing many day-to-day services, including primary schools, local transport and rubbish collection, the role of mayor requires a lot of energy. Yet there's a shortage of new blood; fewer than four percent of the country's 35,000 mayors are under the age of 40. We join France's youngest mayor, 25-year old Rémy Dick (@remy_dick), as he campaigns for re-election in the town of Florange, to find out what drew him to the job and why he hopes to continue. (Listen @)

France has a reputation for egalitarianism and high taxes, but it has also produced some of the world's wealthiest people. Olivier Petitjean, a journalist with the French Multinational Observatory who contributed to a report on European billionaires, talks about how France has cultivated the accumulation of wealth, and the relationship between power and money both in France and elsewhere in Europe. (Listen @)

Absinthe, the green liquor with the reputation of driving people mad, was banned in France on 17 March 1915 because of its impact on soldiers in the trenches in the First World War. We talk about the "green fairy", its effect on French drinking habits and how it's undergoing a revival. (Listen @)

Episode mixed by Nicolas Doreau.

Spotlight on France is a podcast from Radio France International. Find us on iTunes (link here)Google podcasts (link here), or your favourite podcast app.

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