Spotlight on France

Podcast: Baker shortage in France, Covid dubbing woes, the first winter Olympics

Audio 30:20
Spotlight on France episode 47
Spotlight on France episode 47 © RFI

A visit to a bakery where migrant apprentices learn a trade that is increasingly being shunned by French youngsters. A voiceover actress talks about the effects of Covid on the French dubbing industry. The Michelin Guide awards a star to a vegan restaurant for the first time. The first-ever winter Olympics in 1924, in Chamonix, France.


The French consume a staggering 320 baguettes per second, but the country faces a shortage of bakers, with some 5,000 vacancies in its 30,000 boulangeries. Apprentices are not staying in the industry and those who do are increasingly of migrant origin. A baker in Besançon recently made headlines when he went on a hunger strike to prevent his apprentice from being deported back to Guinea. The gamble paid off and Laye Fodé Traoré was given residency. We hear from Traoré, and we report from the Boulangerie Magali where owner Nicolas Roquais is committed to training apprentices to ensure French boulangeries have a bright future. (Listen @4'50)

Covid has affected the film and television industry, with lockdowns shutting down or delaying productions. In France there is another layer: dubbing. Hugely popular non-French series and films tend to be dubbed rather than subtitled, and lockdown had a big impact on the dubbing industry. Voiceover actress Annie Milon (the French voice of Taraji P Henson, Jada Pinkett Smith and Thandie Newton, among others), talks about how the pandemic affected her work and what it's like to be the voice of someone else. (Listen @18'55)

Restaurants in France remain closed due to Covid restrictions, but the Michelin guide published its annual ratings anyway, awarding its first-ever Michelin star to a vegan restaurant, ONA, near Bordeaux. Veganism, while growing in France, remains marginal. Chef Claire Vallée says most of her clients are not even vegan. (Listen @0'00)

Skiing is a big industry in France, though slopes have been kept closed during the February break due to Covid. The skiing craze started with the first-ever winter Olympics, on 25 January 1924, in Chamonix. The event put the town on the path to becoming one of the country's biggest and most famous ski resorts. It was a sporting success, but a financial disaster. (Listen @14'50)

This episode was mixed by Cécile Pompéani.

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

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