When moving to France, discovering what is happening on both a local and national level can be key to settling in and will also help improve your French
Online national news
In terms of language learning, news websites definitely have an edge. The images, layout and diverse content means that it is much easier to grasp the general gist of any one story and watching short news videos is a sure fire way to improve your French comprehension while keeping yourself informed about what is going on in the world around you. Franceinfo, Le Monde and Le Parisien are three of the best.
Anything that is official will be included in the actualités section on the French government website this includes policy decisions and proposals in fields such as health, sustainable development, social policy, law and order, agriculture and so forth.
If listening to the radio is your thing, then try France Inter or LCI. Both of these also contain video content; besides, having the radio on in the background all the time is a wonderful way to improve your language skills with minimal effort. If you prefer to hear your news in English then France24 is a great resource for both global and French-based news and will help you understand current affairs from a French perspective.
It is just as important to keep up to speed with what is going on in your part of France so simply typing ‘journal local’ into the search bar (the computer will use your IP address to find your local paper) will lead you towards your local newspapers and their websites. The best known are La Voix du Nord (north), L’Est Républicain (east), Ouest-France (west) and Sud-Ouest (south west) and La Dépêche (south). These all contain a mix of international, national and regional news, with most producing different editions for different areas. Reading these regional publications is probably one of the best ways of finding out about your local area and getting a feel for the region. Quite often the weekend editions include some form of supplement and a ‘what’s on’ type guide to the local area; again all useful ways of finding out what’s happening where you live.
You will probably also want to know what is going on on a much more local level too and the best place to start is by asking your neighbours or at the local mairie, if there is a weekly or monthly newsletter. Almost all will produce something on at least an annual basis to inform residents of spending plans, new projects, events and of course, births, marriages and deaths in the commune. The conseil municipal or conseil général (equivalent to a local council) are sure to also have a comprehensive website which will be packed full of useful local information and often allows for payment of things such as meals on wheels and childcare as well as providing information on subjects such as transport within the area, urban planning regulations, future developments and upcoming projects.
Face to face
Last but very much not least, never forget how powerful talking to people can be as a way to keep yourself fully informed! By asking a few key questions and then listening carefully, a casual chat is a great way to find out what your neighbours and colleagues really think about their President, Sunday opening, climate change and the like. The answers might surprise you and they will almost certainly give you a new perspective on French current affairs.
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