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The week ahead in France


Saint Nicholas Day 

Saint Nicholas (spelt Saint-Nicolas in French), a Christian saint who inspired Father Christmas, is celebrated in several parts of France on December 6 (Tuesday). 

In France, Saint Nicholas is also remembered as a protector of children thanks to an old tale in which he saves three boys from a wicked butcher and returns them to their families. 

It is mainly eastern France that celebrates the day – particularly Flanders, Alsace, Lorraine, Champagne and Franche-Comté – where small gifts and sweets are usually given to children.

Read more: When is Saint Nicholas Day and how is it celebrated in France?

Renewable energies bill examined by Parliament 

France’s Assemblée nationale will be debating the government’s projet de loi sur les énergies renouvelables today (December 5), a proposed law which seeks to accelerate the country’s move towards renewable energy

“France must be the first nation to depart from fossil fuels before 2050,” President Emmanuel Macron told Le Parisien over the weekend.

Renewable energy accounted for 19.3% of France’s overall consumption in 2020.

It is expected that the right-wing Rassemblement National and Les Républicains parties will oppose the bill, while left-wing parties will be in favour. Right-wing parties have generally objected to onshore wind farms, which they see as a blot on the landscape.

Read also: France plans renewable energy boost as inflation threatens projects

Government declaration on immigration 

France’s government will make a declaration in the Assemblée nationale on its immigration policy tomorrow. 

This will be followed by a debate but no vote, under article 50.1 of the Constitution. 

The debate will take place from 15:00. 

Méditerranée du Futur conference in Marseille

Méditerranée du Futur, an international conference on climate change, is taking place today and tomorrow in Marseille. 

This is the fifth edition of the conference and will include discussions around the theme: ‘Solutions for a sustainable future’. 

Participants will cover issues including food security, energy-saving measures and the future of the Mediterranean. 

You can find out more about the conference here. 

‘Tatoo’ trial comes to an end 

Wednesday (December 7) will see the end of the ‘Tatoo’ trial – named after the little untraceable electronic messaging devices allegedly used by the 27 defendants – regarding an international drug trafficking organisation smuggling cocaine from South America. 

The trial is taking place in Marseille, with the public prosecutor having called for prison sentences of up to 14 years for the defendants. 

Trans Musicales de Rennes 

Between Wednesday and Sunday (December 7-11), Rennes will be hosting the 44th edition of its Trans Musicales, an annual music festival which is known for showcasing the ‘next big thing’ in the French music scene. 

Concerts take place in various locations around the city. Further information can be found here. 

Fête des Lumières in Lyon 

Lyon’s annual Festival of Lights will begin on Thursday (December 8) with around 30 installations and light shows dotted around the city. 

The festival first began as a way of showing gratitude to the Virgin Mary, when households would place candles outside their windows. This tradition dates to 1643, when the plague arrived in Lyon and the city council vowed to pay tribute to Mary if the people were spared. 

The promise slowly evolved into a tradition, which eventually settled on the week around December 8, a day that already marked the Immaculate Conception. 

In 1852, a statue of the Virgin Mary was built next to the Basilique Notre-Dame de Fourvière, which has since become a focal point of the festival. 

This year, it will be possible to enjoy Lyon’s light displays until December 11, and a map of all the installations to be visited is available here.

Lyon city hall has said that LED lighting will be used so the energy needed for the light shows would be “marginal”.

Public holiday in Monaco 

The Immaculate Conception will be marked on Thursday by a public holiday in Monaco. This celebration falls on December 8 as it comes nine months before the feast of the Nativity of Mary on September 8. 

In Monaco, the holiday is celebrated with food festivities and special honouring of mothers and grandmothers. It is not a public holiday in France.

Le Grand Rex turns 90 

Thursday also marks the ninetieth anniversary of the inauguration of the Grand Rex cinema and concert venue on Paris’ Grands Boulevards.

With around 2,800 seats, the Grand Rex is Europe’s biggest cinema. 

It has been hidden behind advertising screens for the last few months, as it undergoes renovations, but its refreshed Art Deco façade is set to be revealed this month. 

France to play England in World Cup quarter-finals 

France – having beaten Poland 3-1 yesterday (December 4) – will play England in the World Cup quarter-finals in Qatar on Saturday (December 10). 

England beat Senegal 3-0 last night. Two of the other quarter-final matches are yet to be determined, but on Friday (December 9), the Netherlands will play Argentina. 

If France beats England in the quarter-finals, they will play Morocco, Spain, Portugal or Switzerland in the semis. 

Paris-Charles de Gaulle temporarily renamed 

Paris-Charles de Gaulle airport has adopted a new name for one week in order to help improve the travelling experience of people with disabilities. 

On Saturday (December 3) – the International Day of Disabled Persons – the airport began a week under the name Anne de Gaulle, after the daughter of the former French president, who had Down’s syndrome. 

The airport’s CEO Augustin de Romanet has said that he hopes to “promote action aiding the integration of people with neurological or psychological disabilities.” 

The week-long campaign will involve changes to the signs on the outside of the airport and to some airline announcements, so passengers should not be surprised if they hear that they are heading to Paris-Anne de Gaulle rather than Charles de Gaulle.

It will also give the airport an opportunity to improve the way in which it welcomes people with disabilities and work towards offering a more streamlined passage through the terminals.

Anne de Gaulle died in 1948, at the age of 20.

Read also: EasyJet strike risk, short flight ban upheld: 10 France travel updates

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