French newspapers and magazines are available from newsagents (maisons de la presse) or any of the ubiquitous street-side kiosks, while TV, satellite and otherwise, is easy to track down in most forms of accommodation. A limited range of British and US newspapers and magazines is widely available in cities and occasionally in even quite small towns.
Newspapers and magazines
Of the French daily papers, Le Monde is the most intellectual; it’s widely respected, and somewhat austere, though it does now carry such frivolities as colour photos. Conservative, and at times controversial, Le Figaro is the most highly regarded of the more right-wing papers. Libération, founded by Jean-Paul Sartre in the 1960s, is moderately left-wing, pro-European, independent and more colloquial, while rigorous left-wing criticism of the government comes from L’Humanité, the Communist Party paper, though it is struggling to survive. The top-selling tabloid, predictably more readable and a good source of news, is Aujourd’hui (published in Paris as Le Parisien), while L’Équipe is dedicated to sports coverage. The widest circulations are enjoyed by the regional dailies, of which the most important is the Rennes-based Ouest-France. For visitors, these are mainly of interest for their listings.
Weekly magazines of the Newsweek/Time model include the wide-ranging and left-leaning Le Nouvel Observateur, its right-wing counterpoint L’Express and the centrist with bite, Marianne. The best investigative journalism is found in the weekly satirical paper Le Canard Enchainé, while Charlie Hebdo became a national bastion for free speech after two Islamic extremists entered its offices in 2015 and opened fire, killing twelve people, in revenge for the paper having published depictions of the Prophet. In the aftermath, millions of people all around the world marched in solidarity under the banner, “Je suis Charlie”.
For gossip about stars and royalty there’s Paris Match, and, of course, the French versions of Vogue, Elle and Marie-Claire, and the relentlessly urban Biba, for women’s fashion and lifestyle.
English-language newspapers which are printed locally, such as the International Herald Tribune, are available on the day of publication. Others usually arrive the following day, and the prices are all heavily marked up.
Television and radio
French terrestrial TV has six channels: three public (France 2, France 3 and Arte/France 5); one subscription (Canal Plus – with some unencrypted programmes); and two commercial (TF1 and M6). Of these, TF1 and France 2 are the most popular channels, showing a broad mix of programmes.
In addition there are any number of cable and satellite channels, including CNN, BBC World, Euronews, Eurosport, Planète (which specializes in documentaries) and Jimmy (Friends and the like in French). The main French-run music channel is MCM.
Radio France operates eight stations. These include France Culture for arts, France Info for news and France Musique for classical music. Other major stations include Europe 1 for news, debate and sport. Radio France International broadcasts in French and various foreign languages, including English; programmes are broadcast on FM to Africa or you can listen on the website or through your mobile phone.
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