Spotlight on France

Podcast: health pass protests, lavender beyond Provence, Canard Enchainé

Audio 27:00
Spotlight on France episode 59
Spotlight on France episode 59 © RFI

Why are people protesting the Covid health pass in France? Challenging terroir by growing lavender outside of Provence. The birth of Le Canard Enchainé, the weekly that has brought down politicians and holds power to account.

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Spotlight on France is back! During the summer break the Covid health pass became an integral part of French daily life. The government argues that encouraging people to get vaccinated against the virus is necessary to avoid future lockdowns. It seems to have worked: vaccination rates are up, and the fourth wave has remained under control in mainland France. But a small, but vocal, minority opposes the pass and have been protesting weekly since July. While the government and much of the media paints them as fringe anti-vaxers, the movement is broader than QAnon conspirationists and vaccine sceptics. We met people at a recent demonstration in Paris to hear why they are so opposed. (Listen @0'40'')

France’s traditions are linked to the land – wine has its terroir, cheese has its protected appellation. Lavender has long been associated with the southern region of Provence, in the foothills of the Alps, north of Marseille. For two centuries the purple flower has been cultivated intensively for its oil, used in the perfume and pharmaceutical industry. In eastern Aveyron, some 250 kilometres to the west of Provence, sheep farmer Laurent Fages has discovered that the terrain in his area is also perfectly suited to growing lavender. (Listen @18'30'')

The first issue of Le Canard Enchainé, one of France's last investigative newspapers, came out on 10 September 1915. It was aimed at countering pro-military propaganda being spread in mainstream media during WW1. Known for its independence, it remains a significant force in French public life. (Listen @14')

This episode was mixed by Cecile Pompeani.

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

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