Macron contracts Covid-19, Alvin Ailey goes virtual and the essentials of a French holiday feast

·5-min read

French President Emmanuel Macron's Covid-19 diagnosis prompted several EU leaders who had been in contact with him to go into isolation just a week before Christmas. FRANCE 24 travelled to Tunisia, where 10 years ago a fruit vendor's self-immolation launched the Arab Spring; the famed Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater begins a new season completely online; and why are the French so sceptical about vaccines?


French President Emmanuel Macron tests positive for Covid-19

Emmanuel Macron has tested positive for Covid-19, the Élysée Palace announced Thursday, prompting other French and EU leaders to self-isolate after coming into contact with the French president over the past week.

Covid-19: Bars, restaurants and dining with friends among high-risk activities, French study finds

Spending time in a bar or restaurant increases the risk of catching Covid-19, French researchers said Thursday, while having guests over for dinner also plays a key role in transmission.

Covid-19: No return to ‘normal’ life until autumn 2021, French government adviser says

The public will probably not see a return to “normal” post-coronavirus life before autumn 2021, the president of France's Scientific Council, which is advising the government on the Covid-19 pandemic, said on Friday.

Widow of January 2015 Paris attacker sentenced to 30 years in prison

A French court found guilty 14 accomplices of the French Islamist militants behind the January 2015 jihadist attacks on the Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine and a Jewish supermarket in Paris.

From foie gras to bûche de Noël: The essentials of a French holiday feast

Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat, as the song goes – unless you live in France, where it might be a guinea fowl or a wild boar putting on the weight. With Covid-19 playing Scrooge this year and the World Health Organization recommending limiting holiday gatherings to the nuclear family (with masks on), what is there to look forward to if not a mouthwatering feast?

Ousting of councillor prompts concern over silencing sexual assault victims in Japan

A rural Japanese town voted its sole female councillor out of her seat after she accused its mayor of sexual assault. The public referendum over whether she had damaged the town’s reputation highlighted the backlash against women who come forward with allegations of sexual abuse.

France’s culture sector mobilises over continued closures as Covid-19 lockdown lifts

France emerged from its second Covid-19 lockdown with new daily infections still high above the government's 5,000-a-day objective. An 8pm-to-6am curfew remains in effect and cultural venues are still closed, sparking anger across the sector.


Sea foam swamps Australian beaches amid spell of extreme weather

Children romped in thick, bubbly sea foam that covered parts of beaches on Australia’s Gold Coast for two days. The foam is mostly made up of decaying organic matter and occurs naturally, but this time appeared in larger than usual quantities amid a bout of extreme ocean weather.

‘Coral IVF’: A way to save the Great Barrier Reef?

A fertilisation technique dubbed “coral IVF” that involves the collection of coral sperm and eggs has shown signs it could restore some of the damage to Australia's Great Barrier Reef, which has lost over half its coral in the past three decades due to global warming, pollution and other threats.



Alvin Ailey Dance Theater Company debuts first online season

’Tis the season to watch virtual dance and music shows from your sofa. The famed Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater began its completely online new season called “Ailey Forward” in December, with new pieces choreographed and performed during the pandemic with Covid-19 and social distancing in mind. Associate artistic director Matthew Rushing spoke to FRANCE 24.

How the music industry coped with Covid-19 and what we're looking forward to in 2021

Our music critics take a look back at the highs and lows of 2020, when Covid-19 lockdowns and restrictions hit the music world hard. How have artists coped? What were the big hits and our favourite interviews? And what are we looking forward to in 2021?


Why are the French so sceptical about vaccines?

France is getting ready to roll out a nationwide Covid-19 vaccination campaign – but more than 50 percent of the French say they have no intention of getting the jab. It may seem paradoxical, but the country that saw Louis Pasteur’s pioneering discoveries in immunology is also one of the world’s most sceptical when it comes to vaccines. Where does this attitude come from and what are public health officials doing about it?


Tunisia still faces major economic challenges, a decade after the revolution

It's been almost exactly 10 years since Tunisian street vendor Mohamed Bouazizi set himself on fire to protest police harassment, sparking the Tunisian revolution and the Arab Spring. Tunisia's economy remains extremely fragile, with hundreds of thousands of graduates without work and the Covid-19 pandemic making matters worse. Our correspondents travelled to several regions and found that the revolution's demands for social justice, employment and dignity remain largely unfulfilled.

Exporting banned pesticides: the EU’s double-dealing tactics?

Since the EU banned the use of various dangerous pesticides in its member states, agrochemical giants have continued to produce them in Europe for legal export. More than 80,000 tonnes left the EU in 2018, with the US, Brazil, Ukraine and Morocco the top destinations. The irony is that these countries then export food products back to Europe. An investigation by Greenpeace and Swiss NGO Public Eye revealed the scale of the trade.


Ending the stigma of miscarriage: Why do people shy away from talking publicly about it?

Very few people talk openly about miscarriage, and yet around one in four women will experience one. We look at how to end this stigma in a special edition focusing on reproductive health and speak to Finnish journalist Pihla Hintikka, the author of a feminist guide to pregnancy.


Afghanistan: The French legacy in Kapisa province

When France deployed troops to Afghanistan between 2001 and 2014, most of them served in Kapisa. The province had a reputation of being the worst place to be sent: Of the 89 French soldiers who died in Afghanistan, two-thirds died in Kapisa fighting the Taliban alongside the Afghan army.


Winter warmers: Discovering typical French soups

Each region of France is proud of its own local soup. Cabbage soup from the village of Queyrières in the Auvergne region, simple and satisfying, has passed down through the generations – old photos and poems even testify to its importance. In the southwest region of Béarn a thick garbure is served at any time of the day.


Cyberpunk 2077: Can seizure risks be avoided in video games?

After a journalist suffered an epileptic seizure while playing the video game Cyberpunk 2077, which uses rapidly blinking lights and other animations, we take a look at issues with the game. And from tactile gloves to stealth technologies and from lasers to drones, how will the soldiers of the future be equipped?


Windsurfing and rugby in Baghdad: New sports pique Iraqis’ interest

Iraq’s capital may not be known as a hub of sporting excellence, but that could be about to change. A new generation keen to have fun and embrace new challenges is emerging from the chaos of war. But it’s not always plain sailing, as our Baghdad correspondents discovered.