Riviera Reporter
Riviera Reporter

Eye on France

News, views and information about France and the French. Their morals, manners, attitudes and habits. How the country functions... or doesn't function. Articles and snippets on a variety of Gallic subjects.


Uritrottoir takes on the “wild peeing” plague

Riviera Reporter | Aug 26, 2016
Two French inventors think they’ve come up with an environmentally-friendly solution to the stink and mess of “wild peeing”. And people are listening. “People urinating on the streets of France is a serious problem,” says inventor Victor Massip.…
La Poste's yellow scooter

La Poste leads the charge with electric scooters

Caren Trafford | Jul 03, 2016
Over the last few months, I’ve fallen in love. And the object of my desire is helping to save the planet. I’m talking about the cutsie canary-yellow scooters that deliver our letters and magazines, courtesy of La Poste – our French postal service.…
Whisky bottles

Watch out Scotland, France may soon be “home of whisky”

The Local | May 30, 2016
According to researchers, the average whisky consumption by a French adult is 2.15 litres a year – and that’s on top of all the wine, cognac and pastis they drink. To put it in perspective, that’s 140 million litres of whisky in total, which would…
Woman wearing the niqab

Burqa ban 5 years on: “We created a monster”

The Local | Nov 27, 2015
Five years after France introduced its controversial ban on wearing the full Islamic face veil in public, the subject still bitterly divides opinion. While opinion polls suggest most French are in favour of the so-called 2010 burqa ban, as is the…
Quail Hunter with Dogs

Accidents blight start of French hunting season

The Local | Sep 27, 2015
The French hunting season began with a bang mid-September 2015, but no sooner had it started than the first accident was reported when a hunter shot his own brother in the leg trying to hit a hare. It promises not to be the last. France has seen…
Happy people in sunset

French are happier than Brits, says new study

Riviera Reporter | Sep 11, 2015
If numerous previous studies and surveys are to be believed, the French are a morose bunch suffering from a “collective depression”. But a new study suggests the French may have been misunderstood, as reported by TheLocal.fr. Finally a happiness…
Salami Sandwich

New French rules and regulations: Buckle up and put down that sandwich!

The Local | Jul 28, 2015
Life slightly changed in France as of July 1st, 2015, with everything from driving rules, dodgy parking and family allowance payments affected. Here’s what you need to know. Road safety According to the Interior Ministry, in 2014 the number of…
Modern France

A portrait of modern France in ten stats

Simone Flückiger | Mar 04, 2015
France’s National Institute for Statistics and Economic Studies (INSEE) has released its 2014 social portrait of the country, which highlights how French society has evolved over the years – from an explosion in the number of homeless to the number…
Charlie Hebdo march in Nice

The day France didn’t stand still when “Charlie Hebdo” was attacked

Elodie Peyrano | Feb 12, 2015
It was supposed to be a nice morning. Indeed it started off well enough, sunny, not too cold. In fact, looking back, Wednesday January 7th, 2015, was a beautiful day … until noon. Many of us were just heading out for lunch when phones started to…
Ellen DeGeneres Selfie

Paris and Nice in top 100 selfiest cities

Riviera Reporter | Jun 19, 2014
A selfie paints a thousand words On March 2nd, 2014, Oscar presenter Ellen DeGeneres took “the selfie that broke Twitter” – which included 10 A-list celebs such as Var residents Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie – and set a new record with 2 million…

Proposal for French university courses in Anglais

Riviera Reporter | Jun 08, 2014
The war of words heats up. French may be the world’s sexiest language but it’s only the eighth most spoken, having suffered a decline when 10 countries joined the EU in 2010. Even in Brussels, English is the EU’s working language. And still, like a…
Coluche Shrine

The presidential clown, Coluche

Mike Meade | May 10, 2014
Alongside the road between Valbonne and Opio, not far from the English Car Mechanics, there is a corner that looks like a graffitied bus stop. A grossly painted face on the wall is surrounded by wilted flowers and strange tokens left at the scene.…
Gallon of Milk

Is France as productive as it used to be?

Riviera Reporter | Mar 08, 2014
“Newsweak” and a gallon of milk French bashing by Anglo-Saxons has been a tradition from Vice-Admiral Nelson in 1798 – “my blood boils at the name of a Frenchman” – to the Sun’s memorable front page headline “Up Yours Delors” in November 1990.…
Presidents of France

All the Presidents’ (wo)men

Mike Meade | Feb 21, 2014
François Hollande, the self-proclaimed “Président Normal” of irreproachable morals, was unlikely to be overly concerned when Closer magazine recently alleged his romantic affair with actress Julie Gayet. His bigger concern was likely to have been…
Roma Travellers

Christian Estrosi takes on the travellers

Riviera Reporter | Sep 24, 2013
Nice mayor Christian Estrosi came under fire when he called on mayors around France to “revolt” against what he sees as wide-scale abuse by les gens du voyage (travellers). You’ve seen their caravans from Menton to Mougins and beyond. The “Roma”…
Bernard Tapie

The least you can say about Bernard Tapie is that he's led an interesting life

Riviera Reporter | Sep 19, 2013
Thirty years ago he was probably the most recognised figure in France. A flamboyant businessman since the early 80s – sometimes thought of as the French answer to Richard Branson – Bernard Tapie has been a singer, actor, television host as well as a…
Flying Eye

The Flying Eye next door, a buzzing aerial drone

Riviera Reporter | Aug 02, 2013
We know that they're used by intelligence agencies and the military but what's with that aerial drone buzzing over the neighbour's garden? It could be the kid next door playing with his latest expensive toy but if the unmanned flying machine looks…
Mariage Pour Tous

How the same-sex marriage debate split the nation

Nathalie Giraud | Jul 17, 2013
All for one and one for all The Marriage for All bill, allowing new rights to same-sex couples, was backed by President François Hollande's Socialists and other left-wing MPs on 12 February 2013, when it passed in the lower house (the National…

Sobering thoughts for the wine trade

Nick Kent | Mar 27, 2013
The French have a drink problem – they’re not glugging back their national tipple in the way they used to. The latest surveys show that the numbers of wine-drinkers in France is declining at a rate that is alarming vineyard owners and supporters of…

The importance of money and family to the French

Riviera Reporter | Jan 11, 2013
Ask quite a few foreigners what matters most to the French and they’re likely to say money and family. And, according to recent studies, that’s exactly right. Those are the things they relate to very closely. Where money is concerned this shows up…
Bon appétit!

What and how much the French eat

Riviera Reporter | Jan 03, 2013
According to one (disapproving) nutritionist’s calculation the average French eater will take in 6000 calories on each of the end of year pig out days (réveillons). But across the twelve months our Gallic hosts are rather well fed on a daily basis.…

What do the Var and the Titanic have in common?

Riviera Reporter | Nov 13, 2012
Answer : Robin. It is capable of enduring depths in excess of 4000 metres making it perfect for exploring the wreckage of the liner which sank southeast of Newfoundland a century ago this year . The Titanic's wreckage was found on 1 September 1985…

Minitel : From cutting edge to museum in just 30 years

Riviera Reporter | Sep 26, 2012
Exactly 25 years ago the Riviera Reporter brought out a special number devoted to the Minitel, at that time rated as one of this country’s great technical triumphs, mentioned alongside the TGV and Airbus. “When it comes to technology,” we exulted,…

Fighting French flab: is victory in sight for the US?

Riviera Reporter | Jul 25, 2012
A few years ago Mireille Guiliano (pictured), French but based in New York, published a book called French Women Don’t Get Fat. This was read with much interest but attracted some criticism in her native country. Claimed nutritionist Dr France…
Chateau dEu

The problem with the short name of the village “Eu”

Riviera Reporter | Jun 15, 2012
A few issues back we listed some of the French communes with very short names including the literally deprived Y in Picardie. In some of those places their brief appellation is regarded as rather amusing. Not the case of Eu in Normandy. This little…
Default Image

What’s the French for Ms?

Riviera Reporter | May 25, 2012
One of the outcomes of feminism in the Anglo-Saxon world has been the emergence of “Ms”, applicable to both married and single women. In fact, the form was first suggested in a local newspaper in Springfield, MA in 1901 but was ignored for decades…
Eric de Montgolfier

Eric de Montgolfier, the “Sadist In A Black Hat” Bows Out

Riviera Reporter | May 15, 2012
Nice, in the time of Jacques Médecin and after, had a reputation as a centre of political and economic corruption. Elisabeth Guigou, as socialist Minister of Justice, concluded that too many of the niçois behaved as if the city was “not really part…
Pamela Druckerman

Do French mothers know best?

Riviera Reporter | May 14, 2012
Pamela Druckerman has a Masters of International Affairs from Columbia University, and trained in improvisational comedy at the Upright Citizens Brigade and Chicago City Limits. She lives in ParisCasting around for ways to discredit Mitt Romney, the…

France's disappearing pharmacies

Riviera Reporter | Mar 10, 2012
“Funny ... I thought there was a pharmacy on that corner”. So what’s happening to those green crosses? Well, that pharmacy on the corner – like 125 other officines across France, to use the professional term – put up the shutters for good last year…

Inside Stories - French Prisons

Riviera Reporter | Jan 07, 2012
The EU’s Commissioner for Human Rights has recently issued a strong criticism of conditions in French prisons. So what’s it like to spend time in our local jails? Patrick Middleton talked to two Brits, a man and a woman, with recent first hand…
Penelope Fillon

France's Second Lady, Penelope Fillon

Patrick Middleton | Jan 07, 2012
François Fillon is a man of notable self-control and subtlety in his personal relationships. These qualities owe a good deal to certain influences such as, surely, his Jesuit schooling and then his long and stable marriage to the former Penelope…
Parents with newborn

Naming baby with mother or father's surname

Riviera Reporter | Jan 07, 2012
A few issues back we printed in our "20 years ago" feature an item about a French MP's vain attempt to reform the Napoleonic rule that children could only bear their father's surname. René Masson was worried that this led to the disappearance of…

Shirkers’ Paradise - The French ambition to become a fonctionnaire

Riviera Reporter | Oct 27, 2011
A discouraging statistic for Nicolas Sarkozy is that instead of longing for the bracing air of a full market economy some 76 per cent of young French, aged 15 to 24, admitted in a recent survey that their ambition was to become a fonctionnaire, an…

In the Trade - The Notaire

Patrick Middleton | Oct 27, 2011
In this series Patrick Middleton looks at some of the professions almost all of us have to deal with at some time Michel Lallamant, notaire In preparing for my interview with Michel Lallamant I came across a quotation from the nineteenth-century…

Dutch medicine for that Social Security deficit?

Riviera Reporter | Oct 27, 2011
Our French friends seem to love visiting doctors and picking up pills from the pharmacy, even when there’s little need to do so. Result: that massive la Sécu deficit. The Dutch government has – to a lesser extent – the same problem and reader Wim…
Penelope Fillon

Penelope Fillon, the PM's wife: From Monmouthshire to Matignon

Riviera Reporter | Oct 27, 2011
With her five children, five horses and a husband who’s Prime Minister of France Penelope Fillon is one Welsh immigrant who has settled in well. She talked to Patrick Middleton The Welsh seem less ready to leave their native country than their…

The French must work more

Riviera Reporter | Oct 27, 2011
So Sarko told them yet again in his April TV show. Well, by international standards this makes sense. Dupont leads the world in days off. In 2007 – leaving aside his RTT days, related to the 35-hour week – he was entitled to 37 days holiday. The…
French order

They order things better in France

Patrick Middleton | Oct 27, 2011
We don’t know who first said that and in what connection but in these troubled times there are quite a few foreign observers who would agree. And Nicolas Sarkozy has reaped the benefit. Although he likes to dismiss opinion polls as “so much froth”…
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