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  • Podcast: Paris attacks verdict, quidditch in France, Haiti's 'independence debt'
    Reflecting on the end of the trial of those involved in the 2015 Paris attacks; developing quidditch in France, where some are wary of a sport involving a broom between the legs. And the day that Haiti was forced to pay its former slave masters for its independence. The trial of the 20 men involved in the 2015 terror attacks in Paris, which left 130 people dead, ended this week after nearly ten months. 19 of the 20 defendents were found guilty of all terrorism-related charges. Salah Abdeslam, the only surviving member of the commando that carried out the attacks, was sentenced to a whole-life term of 30 years in prison. RFI's Michael Fitzpatrick, who has been following the trial since it started in September 2021, talks about how the defendents evolved and what the trial taught him about the rule of law in France. (Listen @2'40'') Quidditch, the fictional game featured in the Harry Potter books, has developed into a real life sport played in 40 countries. While France has only a few hundred players in a dozen or so teams, the national team won the IQA European Games title in 2019 and will be heading back to defend it in Ireland at the end of July. At a recent practice session, Team France members talk about their love of the game – the only gender-mixed contact sport – and why the broom is an essential ingredient. (Listen @17'45'') On 11 July 1825, Haiti agreed to pay 150-million gold francs to France to avoid going to war with its former colonial ruler. The payment was deemed necessary to compensate slave owners for losing their ‘property’ after the Haitian revolution. The country is still suffering from the results of this massive independence debt. (Listen @12'15'') This episode was mixed by Cecile Pompeani. Spotlight on France is a podcast from Radio France International. Find us on, iTunes (link here), Spotify (link here), Google podcasts (link here), or your favourite podcast app (
  • Podcast: France's healthcare crisis, 'deserting' agro-tech, fête de la musique
    France's famously good public healthcare system is in crisis, as emergency services warn of shutdowns over the summer due to lack of staff. Graduates of prestigious AgroParisTech university make waves by turning their backs on an industry they say is "waging war on the living world". The annual Fête de la musique all-day music festival turns 40.  French hospital A&E services are threatening to shut down over the summer due to staff shortages. The French emergency services association estimated a few weeks ago that 120 emergency rooms are facing difficulties – more than half of which have closed partially, at night or at weekends. Healthcare workers warn that this crisis is just the visible manifestation of the collapse of France's renowned healthcare system. Public hospital staff talk about burnout and lack of resources, exacerbated by the Covid pandemic, as the government says it is looking to overhaul the system. (Listen @1'50) During their graduation ceremony, eight students at AgroParisTech – an elite university that trains the country's top agro-tech engineers – announced they were "swerving" away from the industry they'd spent years preparing for. In a speech that made waves in one of France's most important economic sectors, they denounced studies that were contributing to social and ecological devastation. One of the deserters, who lives in the ZAD (Zone to defend) in Notre Dame des Landes, near Nantes, talks about investing her knowledge and energy into collective, anti-capitalist projects and why others could follow suit. (Listen @14'50'') On 21 June 1982, the French Culture Minister Jack Lang launched Fête de la musique as a cure for morosity and a showcase for France's known, and less known, musical talent. Forty years later the all-day music festival has spread to 120 countries. (Listen @10'05'') This episode was mixed by Cecile Pompeani. Spotlight on France is a podcast from Radio France International. Find us on, iTunes (link here), Spotify (link here), Google podcasts (link here), or your favourite podcast app (
  • Podcast: Union of the left, SOS trees, celebrating Britain's 'francophile' Queen
    A first-time candidate for parliament campaigns for the newly unified left. Why a Frenchman has set up camp in one of Gustav Eiffel's ancient plane trees. France marks the jubilee of Britain's Queen Elizabeth II. One of the most interesting parts of the upcoming parliamentary elections in France is the way the famously splintered left has come together. For the first time since the 1970s the left is unifying, rallying behind hard left leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who hopes to become prime minister. Mélenchon’s France Unbowed party has joined forces with the Greens, Socialists and Communists to form NUPES – New Popular Ecological and Social Union – with the different parties fielding just one common candidate per constituency. In Paris' 7th district, the NUPES candidate is lawyer Caroline Mecary. A newcomer to party politics, she never expected to run for a seat in parliament but is approaching the task with energy and conviction as she tries to unify disparate parts on the left in her first ever campaign. (Listen @0') Thomas Brail, an arborist from the south of France, has set up camp in a 200-year-old plane tree at the foot of the Eiffel tower. The tree is one of three planted in 1814, before the Eiffel was built, but which were protected by Gustav Eiffel himself. Their existence is threatened, however, by a development project backed by City Hall in preparation for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games. Brail, founder of the National Tree Surveillance Group (GNSA), says France needs to do more to protect trees – "our allies" in the fight against climate change. (Listen @12'45'') France is joining in Britain's celebration of Queen Elizabeth's jubilee – marking the 70-year reign of a francophile monarch who has made more visits to France than any other foreign country. (Listen @8'55'') This episode was mixed by Cecile Pompeani. Spotlight on France is a podcast from Radio France International. Find us on, iTunes (link here), Spotify (link here), Google podcasts (link here), or your favourite podcast app (
  • Podcast: France's female PM, protecting Marseille's Calanques, Battle of Rocroi
    Does France's new female Prime Minister mark a victory for feminism? Marseille's creeks (Calanques), faced with degradation, limit visitors. The battle in 1643 that shifted influence in Europe from Spain to France. Elisabeth Borne, the second female prime minister in France's modern history, bears the official title of "première ministre" – the feminisation of “premier ministre”. President Emmanuel Macron was under pressure to appoint a woman, and someone with a more left-leaning profile than her predecessor, Jean Castex – a nod to the leftists and Greens who voted for him to block far-right Marine Le Pen. There's plenty of debate over Borne's left-wing credentials and whether she will usher in a more women-led government. Political journalist, Lea Chamboncel (@ChamboncelLea), host of the POPOL podcast and author of a book on women in politics, talks about why Borne's gender is, sadly, still news, and her own mission to get more women's voices heard in French politics. (Listen @0') Every year, tens of thousands of people flock to the picturesque inlets – known as Calanques – along the Mediterranean coast, eroding the cliffs and damaging vegetation. In a first for France – and Europe – the national park managing the Calanques is limiting access to those closest to Marseille, introducing a permit during the summer months. Isabelle Martinetti visits the area to see how it will impact locals and tourists alike. (Listen @20'05'') The French army snatched victory from its Spanish rival on 19 May 1643 in the Battle of Rocroi. Gary Girod (@girod_gary) of the French History Podcast explains the importance of the battle that marked the beginning of the end of Spanish dominance on the warfield, and the rise of France in Europe under the reign of Louis XIV. (Listen @12'53'') This episode was mixed by Cecile Pompeani. Spotlight on France is a podcast from Radio France International. Find us on, iTunes (link here), Spotify (link here), Google podcasts (link here), or your favourite podcast app (
  • Podcast: Macron vs Le Pen, Mélenchon supporters protest, France's first elected woman
    The two presidential candidates faced off in a three-hour debate Wednesday in which they tried to convince undecided voters. Did it work? Leftist Mélenchon voters on what to do in the second round. And the first woman elected to office in France in 1925. In the last leg of France's 2022 presidential election, incumbant Emmanuel Macron and far-right leader Marine Le Pen finally faced off in a debate, aimed at getting undecided voters on side in Sunday's second round runoff. Le Pen tried to show she was in touch with the people and their problems, and the leader of a rehabilitated far right ready and able to govern. Macron, criticised by some for being aloof and arrogant, aimed to highlight fundamental differences between him and his rival, notably on Europe and the Muslim veil. He also sought to show that the choice of president will have a major impact on France. Did the debate convince anyone? (Listen @0') As well as the two candidates, a third important figure in this election remains the leader of the hard-left France Unbowed party, Jean-Luc Mélenchon. After winning 22 percent of the vote in the first round, the question of where those votes go in the runoff has led to him being called a kingmaker. He called for voters to block Le Pen, but stopped short of endorsing Macron, and his party voted overwhelmingly to abstain or cast blank ballots. Who are these voters, and what is driving their decisions? (Listen @11'15'') Follow RFI's coverage of the 2022 presidential election here. If Marine Le Pen wins, she would become France's first female president, nearly a hundred years after the first woman was elected to any office. On 3 May 1925, Joséphine Pencalet was elected to the city council in the Brittany town of Douarnenez. But because women were not yet allowed to vote, her time in office was short-lived. (Listen @8'30'') This episode was mixed by Cecile Pompeani. Spotlight on France is a podcast from Radio France International. Find us on, iTunes (link here), Spotify (link here), Google podcasts (link here), or your favourite podcast app (



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