Spotlight on France

Podcast: French flour shortages, coronavirus in the banlieue, Notre Dame in lockdown

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Where has all the flour gone? The French appear to have taken to baking during the Covid-19 lockdown, upsetting supply chains. Also, how the pandemic has highlighted inequalities in French healthcare. And reflecting on Notre Dame, a year after the fire.

Spotlight on France episode 37
Spotlight on France episode 37 © RFI

French people are starting to bake, a lot - unheard of in a country which counts a boulangerie in every town and on nearly every street corner in big cities. But as the coronavirus makes people wary of buying bread they are buying flour, instead, to make their own. We look at how confinement measures have disrupted flour supply chains and shifted people’s approach to daily bread in the land of baguettes. (Listen @0'00)

Also, the virus and lockdown are affecting people in very different ways, depending on their social situation. The crisis has highlighted deep inequalities in terms of housing, work and access to healthcare, especially in France's poor suburbs, or banlieues. One organisation, Banlieues santé has built up a network of grassroots healthcare workers to help support vulnerable people, often filling in for language barriers. Founder Abdelaali El Badaoui (@abdelaalielbada) talks about how the work has become especially pertinent during the crisis. (Listen @4'00)

A lot has changed since the world watched in horror a year ago as the roof of Notre Dame cathedral in Paris burst into flames, its spire melting in the inferno. When journalist Agnes Poirier (@AgnesCPoirier) wrote her book, Notre Dame: The Soul of France, she did not expect it to be released in the midst of a lockdown. She talks about the cathedral’s history, its role in forging French identity, and the symbolism of rebuilding it today as the world is facing major health and social fractures. (Listen @11'00)


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