Remembering Giscard d'Estaing, fighting to ski despite Covid-19 & decoding 'The Crown'

Week in Review
Week in Review © France 24

After France lost former president Valéry Giscard d'Estaing to Covid-19 at 94 on Wed., FRANCE 24 took a look back at the "modernist" ex-leader's life and times. This week, France dropped a controversial measure to curb the filming of police on duty, outlined its vaccine plan and weathered skiers' dismay at slopes shuttered during the pandemic. We explored Nagorno-Karabakh in flux, witnessed the hunt for jihadists in Africa's Sahel, delved into the struggles of transgender children, visited France's idyllic Vosges region and watched as the "The Crown" unsettled viewers with season 4.



Valéry Giscard d'Estaing
Valéry Giscard d'Estaing © Phillippe Wojazer, AFP/File

Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, ‘modernist’ French president, dies at 94

Former French president Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, who who was a leading force in laying the foundation of the European Union, died on Wednesday from complications linked to Covid-19 at the age of 94.

Giscard grasped the 70s mood, but French women won their own rights

The French presidency of Valery Giscard d’Estaing was marked by a series of breakthroughs on women’s rights, most famously with the legalisation of abortion in 1975. But was the self-styled “moderniser” a driving force behind the reforms or was he merely in tune with the changing times?

‘Less unpleasant but not fundamentally different’: Transatlantic divides after Biden win

After Donald Trump’s “America First” agenda exposed longstanding strains in US-Europe relations, Joe Biden’s victory has prompted a Franco-German row over Emmanuel Macron’s vision of “strategic autonomy” – while transatlantic tensions simmer over tech taxes and extraterritorial US law.

Is China provoking a diplomatic fight with Australia?

China has recently stepped up its aggression towards Australia, from introducing new customs taxes to trolling on Twitter. Relations between the two countries have rarely been so bad and, according to regional experts, the world should be paying attention to the way Beijing is treating Canberra.

National Assembly majority leader Christophe Castaner, of Emmanuel Macron's La République en Marche party, on November 30, 2020, in Paris.
National Assembly majority leader Christophe Castaner, of Emmanuel Macron's La République en Marche party, on November 30, 2020, in Paris. © Anne-Christine Poujoulat, AFP

French parliament drops controversial draft law curtailing right to film police

The French parliament has dropped a controversial bill that would have curbed the right to film police officers in action, the speaker of parliament and leader of President Emmanuel Macron's ruling party announced on Monday.

France unveils five-step Covid-19 vaccination plan, starting with those most at risk

France's national health authority on Monday unveiled its five-step plan for vaccinating the public, with a first stage prioritising the elderly and those most at risk from Covid-19 followed by those over 65 with comorbidities.

Ex-interior minister faces legal complaint over death of woman, 80, struck by tear-gas grenade

Eighty-year-old Algerian national Zineb Redouane died shortly after she was struck by a tear gas grenade in her apartment in Marseille. Two years after her tragic death, relatives have filed a legal complaint against former interior minister Christophe Castaner for “concealing evidence”, while investigative journalists have challenged the findings of a ballistic report that cleared officers of wrongdoing.

Nicolas Rubin, the mayor of Châtel, has draped his town hall in Swiss flags in protest at France's decision to close ski lifts while resorts across the border remain open.
Nicolas Rubin, the mayor of Châtel, has draped his town hall in Swiss flags in protest at France's decision to close ski lifts while resorts across the border remain open. © Fabrice Coffrini, AFP

Closed French ski resorts cry 'catastrophe' as neighbours keep slopes open

A European dispute over the wisdom of opening ski resorts amid the Covid-19 pandemic has turned into a battle pitting France, Italy and Germany – whose slopes remain shut – against the defiant Alpine nations of Switzerland and Austria, backed by Spain.



Is season 4 of 'The Crown' too close for comfort?

It's a show that, like the queen herself, needs little introduction: Alison Sargent and Olivia Salazar-Winspear dive into the fourth season of the Netflix drama "The Crown", featuring much-awaited portrayals of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and Lady Diana Spencer. As the narrative gets closer to the present day, some find that its depiction of sensitive events hits too close to home.

Singer-songwriter Joan Armatrading.
Singer-songwriter Joan Armatrading. © BMG Rights

Joan Armatrading: 'I was born to do this'

She was the first British female singer-songwriter to achieve international success. Hits such as “Love and Affection” and “Me Myself I” in the 70s made her a household name, but other songs like “Barefoot and Pregnant”, now a feminist anthem, and “Rosie” about a transgender character have become cultural landmarks. As Joan Armatrading turns 70, she speaks to Eve Jackson about getting a CBE from the Queen and the UK’s Women of the Year Lifetime Achievement Award, being asked to write a song for Nelson Mandela and how she sees the future of the music industry after the pandemic.


Nagorno-Karabakh: Christian sites ‘not in danger of destruction,’ says Azerbaijan minister

In an exclusive interview with FRANCE 24, Azerbaijan’s acting culture minister vowed that Christian heritage sites in Nagorno-Karabakh were not at risk after his Muslim-majority country gained control of the restive region, adding that any destruction on Azerbaijan’s behalf had been unintentional.


The hunt for jihadists in Africa's Sahel region

FRANCE 24's team embedded with Niger's special forces. In this epicentre of West African jihadism, local "franchises" of the Islamic State group and al Qaeda are competing to establish a vast "caliphate" across the Sahel region. Local villagers, caught in the crossfire, are afraid that jihadists may infiltrate the population and the former live in fear of reprisals. Some 4,000 civilians died in this zone in 2019 alone. Niger's government has twin aims: To keep people safe and to recover territory, in order to prevent the "caliphate" rising from its ashes on the African continent.



Jessica Palmer heads the "Cheval-Alsace" equestrian centre in France's Vosges region.
Jessica Palmer heads the "Cheval-Alsace" equestrian centre in France's Vosges region. © France 24 screengrab


Winter in France's Vosges mountains

Located in France's eastern Vosges region, the Champ du Feu is a stunning patch of wildlife; a giant meadow that stretches out 1,099 metres above sea level. The vast area can be crossed on Icelandic horses during magical wintry treks. But during the harsh Vosges winters, some locals prefer more indoor activities such as fruit distillation, which produces different kinds of alcohol. The result is a pure concentrate of the Vosges: A wild region brimming with natural beauty all year round.


Conquest and exile in the disputed enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh

After a 44-day war with Armenian forces, Azerbaijan has recaptured swathes of territory in and around Nagorno-Karabakh in the South Caucasus. That includes about half of the disputed enclave itself, but also seven Azerbaijani provinces which were seized by Armenia in the early 1990s. Those have been handed back under a ceasefire deal brokered by Russia. Azerbaijan's authorities permitted our reporters to film inside districts that have just changed hands.

In question: Transgender children and gender dysphoria in France

At issue: The feeling of being born with the wrong gender. It is estimated that one in 500 children are affected by that profound feeling of doubt and unease, a sentiment that has often been relegated to the lone fields of psychiatry and mental health. Children confronted with such questions are often met with rejection, bullying, denial and isolation, resulting in a high risk of self-harm and suicide. What is French society doing to reach out to these kids?


French athletes struggle with Covid-19 restrictions

We explore how the world of sports in France is handling the Covid-19 curveball. With social distancing rules and two lockdowns upending many competitions and closing down most training facilities, it's been a rough year for athletes, clubs and fans alike. Faced with the dire consequences of this forced time-out, President Emmanuel Macron has met representatives and come up with a game plan. But beyond the financial aspect, this health crisis has also taken its toll on French athletes, both physically and mentally. Judo champion Clarisse Agbegnenou gives us her take on the situation.

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