French press review 29 August 2012
Whye the French should be eating more strawberries and apricots. Where will France's 2.2 million new students live? How can young workers live on low pay? And will the young unemployed find jobs?
The headline on this morning’s La Croix newspaper is "Fruit and vegetables, not so expensive". This is a debate that sprouts up about this time ever year here in France. One should bear in mind that the French are very particular about their culinary habits.
Data show that in 2011 81.3 kilogrammes of fruit and vegetables cost 169.60 euros, the paper reveals. The cost is rising but, as the article points out, not by that much. Yet consumption is in decline.
An expert in the fresh fruit and vegetable market is quoted as saying “It’s the perceived value of these products” that puts people off buying them.
Interestingly, couples without children spend the least on fruit and vegetables, while couples with two children over the age of 10 eat more vegetables than any other category in society.
Guess how much they munch through in a year -127 kilogrammes, according to La Croix.
As for the fruits and vegetables that have declined in price, strawberries have gone down 13 per cent. Nectarines by contrast have risen by 20 per cent.
So you’re better off putting apricots in your fruit salad because they have gone down by 12 per cent since last year, at least if you live in France. But if you’re a farmer growing peaches for the French market then you’ll be glad to hear that this year’s harvest could earn you 18 per cent more than last year.
Staying with the cost of living here in France, the newspaper Aujourd’hui en France takes readers through the dismal state of student accommodation.
It’s that time of year when students are about to start university, so parents are scrabbling to put together their dossiers so as to secure their beloved offspring a place to live.
The article starts out with an equation. The 2.2 million students who have passed their Baccaluréat exam will have to compete for 165,000 places in university halls of residence. A separate article suggests the reason for the shortage in student accommodation is that most universities stopped adding to their accomodation capacity in the 1970s.
So for many the only option will be a tiny studio apartment, which in Paris costs an average of 673 euros per month, according to the report in Aujourd’hui en France.
Of course Paris isn’t the only place to have a large university population. Poitiers in the west of the country is the place with the cheapest lodgings for student. There a studio costs 318 euros per month.
Turning now to communist L’Humanité, but sticking with the theme of problems facing France's bright young things, the headline reads, "The future is long-term employment."
The lead picture shows a rather beleaguered young woman holding a placard that tells us she earns 1,000 euros per month and declares, "I want my life to change."
Now let’s do a bit of maths. If the average price of a studio flat in Paris costs 673 euros, then, assuming she lives in Paris, this poor girl would have just 327 euros left to pay her bills, travel costs and food.
But at least she has a job because, according to L’Humanité, more than 671,000 16-24-year-olds don’t have a job. And it’s this startling statistic that has prompted a cabinet meeting today here in Paris.
The plan is to launch an initiative to create 150,000 jobs for people in this category by the end of 2014.