In the hot suburbs of Paris and Strasburg, the new year was welcomed with the usual fireworks of burning cars. However, when Interior Minister Manuel Valls announced that this time 1067 cars were burned, he sounded rather pleased when he compared it to last year's number of 1193. "This decrease of 10.6% is very encouraging", he said.
On the other hand, three people were killed on New Year's Eve; two were stabbed to death and one died in an accidental explosion of illegal fireworks.
Nothing to brag about.
President Hollande started 2014 with a televised address of New Year's wishes that contained nothing new and least of all a change of plans. He restated that reducing unemployment remained his first priority and feels he is on the right track. He promised to continue his efforts to bring down public spending and to reduce the tax burden on the French people "down the line". He also announced a Pacte de Responsabilité between the government and French companies: in exchange for a reduction of labor costs and an easing of certain regulations, the companies would commit to hiring new employees. This reminds us of last year's Choc de Simplification and the Pacte de Compétitivité which to date have had little or no effect on unemployment in France. Perhaps a new name for an old program looks like progress?
|SNCM ferries blocked|
to open on Sundays is back on the table. As you may remember, Sunday is considered a day of rest in France and only by government decree are certain areas of business exempted, such as hospitals, food, security, tourist venues, and the hospitality industry. In recent months, gardening centers, furniture stores, and home improvement stores have asked for government approval to open on Sundays, and this was granted on certain Sundays in certain specific locations and for a limited time only. Some shops outside these approved sectors that opened nevertheless were fined.
Marseilles Cultural Capital of Europe 2013 ended the year in spectacular fashion with a gorgeous show of light, music, and pyrotechnics produced by the incredible Groupe F, famous for Olympic Games opening ceremonies and other world events. To see some of their work, click here:
More than 150,000 spectators gathered in the Vieux Port to attend this final event of the rich MP13 calendar, which in the course of the year drew 1.2 million visitors to Marseilles.