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So French!

Author: Stefan de Vries

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The podcast from Paris about French current affairs, culture and politics. Hosted by Sara Bertilsson and Stefan de Vries
69 Episodes
This week: Black Thursday is coming! On December 5, a national strike will paralyze the country. It could well last until the New Year. How to survive what could become the biggest strike in decades?Another black day for the French Army, when 13 soldiers died in a helicopter accident during an anti-jihadist operation in Mali. France’s military involvement in Africa is now in question.Turning Black Friday green? As the infamous November took its grip on France, the country’s politicians are getting ready to put the breaks on the shopping frenzy.And will Sara and Stefan quit drinking in the New Year? Emmanuel Macron thinks it's not such a good idea to participate in Dry January.Recorded in Paris, November 30, 2019.
Parlez-vous franglais? The French are not known for speaking English fluently. Or any other foreign language. Our guest, Giuseppe Fantigrossi of the start-up Play2Speak, will tell us why that is the case, and more importantly: how the French can finally improve their foreign language skills.This weekend, it has been one year already that the Yellow Vests started their protests. And they are continuing. There were violent clashes in Paris again this Saturday. It coincided with the day the first half of Macron's (first?) five-year mandate ended. To put more pressure on the President, a national unlimited strike, in public transportation, but probably also in schools, hospitals and other public services will start. How warm is this Winter going to be for the French Government?Also: at the very chic Culture Ministry, a high-ranked civil servant drugged hundreds of young women to make them urinate in front of him. A “crazy pervert” says the Minister, but how come he wasn’t stopped earlier?Recorded in Paris, November 16, 2019
Seine-Saint-Denis is France's poorest district. In 2024 it will be the main site of the Olympic Games. This week the government presented a plan to improve life for its 1.6 million inhabitants. What are the challenges? And is the plan sufficient?Bad news for New York Foodies: in 2023, all foie gras will be banned. We talk with New York Chef Hugue Dufour, who is not amused with the ban.On this side of the Ocean, Halloween is getting more and more popular every year. Ten years ago, the French couldn't be bothered by this very American party, but now they spend 1.3 billion euros on the scary party. Why do they like it? Hosts Sara and Stefan discuss the new tradition.Recorded in Paris on November 2, 2019.
Once every while debate rages in France about Muslim veils. This week another high-point was reached: the topic was discussed in no less than 85 (!) TV programmes, with 286 talking heads, not one of them being a veil wearing muslim woman... In the country that has 'Liberty' and 'Equality' in its publicity slogan, many people would like to see restrictions on the way people dress. And by 'people', they often mean 'Muslim women'. Is banning the headscarf a legitimate way of defending France's 'values' (whatever they may be) or is it an open war against Muslims?We also talk about another immigrant whose clothing obsessed the French: Marie-Antoinette. In two centuries, the image of the Austrian princess transformed into a pop icon. A new exhibition in Paris ‘celebrates’ her life.Recorded in Paris, on 19 October 2019
Hosts Sara and Stefan are baffled by this week's media frenzy following former President Jacques Chirac's death. Why did French media go bananas with their coverage? They also discuss the fire at the chemical plant in Rouen. The aftermath showed once again that French citizens have very little trust in government institutions. And to a certain extent, that distrust is justified by the way French authorities has been handling some severe health crises in the past.
Back to School!

Back to School!


The schools have started again, the Rentrée is almost forgotten, yet the debate on how to reform the old fashioned and underperforming French education system is still raging. The OECD published a report comparing school systems around the World, and the French are not the best pupils. We go into detail of these findings with our special guest Juliette Buisson, Middle School Teacher in Saint-Germain-en-Laye. And also: Patrick Balkany is without a doubt France’s most colourful white-collar criminal. For decades, this flamboyant politician divided his time between lavish properties in Saint-Martin, Marrakech and Giverny. He’s now spending his nights in prison.Recorded in Paris, October 20 and hosted by Sara Bertilsson and Stefan de Vries
The crazy hot Europan Summer is over and that means we're back with So French! It is our fifth Season already. And we are recording in a brand new studio not far from the Eiffel Tower.In this week's episode: France is getting serious about violence against women, while Brazil is insulting Macron. Also: the families of the victims of Air France flight 447 were shocked to learn that the investigating judges will drop their inquiry into the causes of the crash. And: victory for Maurice, the roaring rooster.
A special guest: Lindsey Tramuta, from Lost in Cheesland
Three French 'B’s' are competing for a spot on the World Cultural Heritage List. Will it be​ the baguette, the bistro or Paris’s bouquinistes that gets the official heritage stamp from Unesco's much-coveted seal of approval? We’ll try to make up our mind of what we think is the most important French tradition to preserve!France’s top political power couple since almost four decades goes on trial! Politicians Isabelle and Patrick Balkany accused of hiding...13 million euros! from the French authorities!We also discuss this year's Cannes Filmfestival, and the way the glamorous world of cinema is becoming (just a bit) more female-friendly.And of course, we talk about the European Elections. Just like two years ago, Macron's movement 'Renaissance' is in a neck and neck race with Marine Le Pen's Rassemblement nation.
President Emmanuel Macron gave his first press conference since his election almost two years ago. We were there and give you a summary.The Notre-Dame trauma, turning into a Notre-Dame drama, with controversy regarding everything from the funds donated for its reconstruction, the state of the French heritage sites and WHAT the new Notre-Dame should look like French drug dealers taking on new methods to retain their clients, or how about a lottery for the most loyal clients - just like any supermarket chain...We also discuss the freedom of the ​press in France, which is not as free as in neighbouring countries and is even decreasing.
This week:While trying to fight fake news, Emmanuel Macron fell on his own sword. Facebook and Twitter resued a European election campaign made by the French government because of breaking the new French Fake News law. Our guest Jackson Webster, a cybersecurity expert of Legalcluster in Paris, talks to us about the difficult relationship between social media and governments.Would you like to buy an appartment in Paris? Dream on! The average price of one square meter (just enough space for a dish washer or a fridge) is now more than 10.000 euros!We also tell you all about another government reshuffle: no less than three ministers said bye bye to Macron this week. And ahead of the European Elections, we talk to Europeans living in Paris about their view on the EU.Recorded in Paris, on April 6, 2019. Hosts: Julia Vié and Stefan de Vries
This week we try to find an answer to essential life questions like should we keep Summer Time or Winter Time? And do we say 'pain au chocolat' or 'chocolatine'?We also discuss the start of the conviction of the Cardinal of Lyon in a child's abuse case and Emmanuel Macron's start of the campaign for the European Elections.Recorded in Paris, March 7, 2019.
This week we talk about the controversy regarding French police’s non-leathal flash-ball weapons, about food and about France's entry for this year's Eurovision Song Contest.
To satisfy the yellow vests, Emmanuel Macron launched his Grand National Debate. But will it be enough to calm down the profound anger in French society?In the mean time, Renault's CEO Carlos Ghosn is still in a Japanese prison, are the French smoking less and less and was the country eating a lot of galette des rois... Recorded in Paris, 12 January 2019
We are having a coffee with author Agnès Poirier in the fancy Café de Flore. She is a journalist and writer of “Left Bank”, a lively account of the intellectual and artistic life in post-war Paris.
Yellow vest protests have disrupted more or less everything in France's everyday life. What happens now? Will the anger be back after Christmas?And in the middle of this, the environment weems to be the collateral damage. Over a million French now want to sue the government to force them to take action to save our planet.
The mystery of the babies born without arms. A new health scandal, and a possible cover-up by authorities? We’ll talk you through the story that’s grappling France.Emmanuel Macron took some rest, he was allegedly very tired. Yet, making fun of the President, is a lucrative business. Tens of thousands of euros to migrants and homeless people thanks to Macron’s best - or worst - quotes.
At least ten people said 'non' to Macron, but after two weeks of looking for candidates, the French President finally managed to reshuffle his government. Police raided the offices of Les Insoumises, the left-wing party, and that didn’t go down very well with its leader Jean Luc Mélenchon...Will a new measure to improve air conditions in France’s major cities: will car tolls save it’ inhabitants from pollution?Football Star Kylian Mbappé went back to his hometown, the Paris suburb Bondy. And also: the verdict in a murder case that was most talked about in Monaco.Recorded in Paris, 19 October 2018
This week two (former) interior ministers dominated the news. One of them resigning… twice! Triggering a new crisis in the already fragilized government The other one, taking off towards new horizons, in the south: Manuel Valls switched Paris for BarcelonaOf course, we'll talk about the entertainer of the century, Charles Aznavour. The great singer passed away this week career that lasted over half a century in which he wrote and recorded more than 1,200 songs.And can you guess what is now the official French word for ‘fake news’?Episode S04E03  (N°60) – Recorded in Paris, 5 October 2018
While his former close aid Alexandre Benalla was being heard by the Senate, the French president came under fire (once again) for “his contempt towards the working class and unemployed”. No worries, it’s just “straight talk”, say his defenders.We also discuss the thriller-like case of the killing of the richest woman in Monaco, Hélène Pastor. The trial started  in a French court this week. This time it was not the butler who did it…And we are having a glass of champagne. Or two.Recorded in Paris, September 20, 2018
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