Surfers, swimmers hit the waves on France’s west coast as lockdown eases | AFP

At the surfing hotspot of Lacanau on France’s west coast, surfers and swimmers alike hit the waves as beaches begin to gradually reopen on the first weekend since France eased coronavirus lockdown restrictions on May 11. IMAGES

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France begins reopening south-coast beaches on first post-lockdown weekend | AFP

Beaches on the Mediterranean coast are starting to reopen as France looks forward to its first weekend post-lockdown since the coronavirus crisis began. On Saturday the beach at Almanarre, in the Var, is one of the first to reopen, albeit with caveats: no sunbathing, picnicking or sports and team games. IMAGES

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You Can Fence With Lightsabers in France

About a year ago, the French Fencing Federation (FFF) was facing an existential challenge: the number of young people interested in traditional fencing was declining, and French kids were more interested in staring at their screens than showing up to like parry a la 16th century dukes.

That’s why the FFF made a very controversial decision: to elevate lightsaber fencing — up to that point a cosplay-esque pursuit of Star Wars enthusiasts — to the same status as Olympic-level fencing.

“We already do artistic fencing,” FFF President Isabelle Lamour told VICE News. “It’s historic. So if we can have ancient fencing, why not have futuristic fencing?”

The rule change seemed innocent enough, but considering the three weapons used in traditional fencing haven’t changed in about 200 years, it’s no surprise that adding lightsabers to the mix really ruffled a lot of feathers.

“Disney is not really welcome, I’m sorry,” traditional fencer Alban Garrouste told VICE News, referring to Lucasfilms’ parent company. “Fencing is a huge part of the French identity, so I think we should stick to [its] values and historical origins.”

For now, France is going it alone, with no other countries inquiring if they can import the rules to their own national fencing organizations, according to Lamour. But she noted that youth participation in the sport has definitely gone up.

“We’ve got everything to gain,” she said. “It doesn’t take anything away from participants in traditional fencing. It puts our discipline in the spotlight.”

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Steady traffic on Paris’s Place de l’Opera on day 4 since virus lockdown eased | AFP

No traffic jams but a steady flow of cars on Place de l’Opera in central Paris on the fourth day since France started easing its coronavirus lockdown. IMAGES

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Paris business district still deserted after France eases lockdown | AFP

Four days after France eased lockdown restrictions, the usual hustle and bustle of La Defense is nowhere to be seen, as wary Parisians keep clear of the business district. IMAGES

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French government meets to plot Marshall Plan for tourism industry | AFP

Prime Minister Edouard Philippe welcomes government ministers at his residence to discuss how to save France’s tourism industry, with close to 1.5 billion euros set aside for a Marshall Plan. IMAGES

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French education minister visits school near Paris | AFP

France’s Minister of National Education Jean-Michel Blanquer visits a primary school in the Parisian suburb of Palaiseau, the day after confinement orders are lifted. Thousands of schools are reopening their doors after a two-month stoppage, a limited and strictly supervised restart, but one that raises many fears in the face of a coronavirus epidemic that is still active in France. IMAGES

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Children living near Rennes go back to school | AFP

The Champ l’Eveque kindergarten near Rennes, northwestern France, opens its doors as children across France head back to school after two months of lockdown. IMAGES

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Deconfinement day 2: traffic resumes on the Champs-Elysées | AFP

In Paris, traffic resumes on the Avenue des Champs-Elysées and on the Place de l’Etoile but remains fluid on the second day of deconfinement in France. IMAGES

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Hundreds protest outside French hospital over virus response | AFP

Around 300 protesters gather outside a hospital in the western city of Nantes in France, to show support for health workers and criticise the French authorities’ response to the coronavirus crisis. IMAGES AND SOUNDBITEN°1RE0OQ

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Masks the new normal as commuters fill Paris’ Gare Saint-Lazare | AFP

It’s been a while since rush hour was so busy at Gare Saint-Lazare train station in Paris. Commuters returning to work the day the lockdown is lifted in France keep their distance on the platforms, while masks and gloves become the new normal for all passengers. IMAGES

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Traffic returns to Paris’ Avenue du Champs-Élysées | AFP

After being virtually deserted for 55 days, the Avenue des Champs-Élysées in Paris sees the gradual return of traffic. It is the first day of deconfinement in France. IMAGES

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Look at Paris on eve of lockdown and before easing

Images shot in Paris just before France went into lockdown in March and again, at the same spots, this Thursday starkly illustrate how the French capital has been transformed by the country’s stay-home orders to combat the coronavirus pandemic. (May 8)

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Parisians brave police fine to soak up sunshine at the Sacré-Cœur | AFP

A handful of Parisians brave the threat of a police fine to soak up the sunshine on a warm spring day in the French capital. By the time police arrive to check people for the appropriate authorisation for going outside there are few remaining at the tourist hotspot. It is the 52nd day of confinement, set in place to curb the spread of coronavirus. France will gradually begin easing its lockdown restrictions from May 11. IMAGES

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French wine growers launch ‘video wine-tasting’ in bid to beat sales slump | AFP

Independent wine-growers from France’s Provence region attempt to beat the slump in sales amid the coronavirus crisis by launching ‘remote’ wine-tasting sessions for clients and making home deliveries.

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Paris traffic on the move four days from end of lockdown | AFP

Traffic slowly but surely begins creeping back into Paris four days before the start of France’s gradual easing of lockdown restrictions, put in place to curb the spread of the coronavirus. The country has been at a virtual standstill for nearly two months. IMAGES

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French wine growers launch ‘video, drive-in wine-tasting’ in bid to beat sales slump | AFP

Independent wine-growers from France’s Provence region attempt to beat the slump in sales amid the coronavirus crisis by launching ‘remote’ and ‘drive-in’ wine-tasting sessions for clients.

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Traffic slowly picking up on Champs-Elysées as France lockdown nears end | AFP

With just five days to go before the progressive lifting of the coronavirus lockdown in France, traffic on the famous Avenue des Champs-Elysées in Paris is slowly picking up and the number of pedestrians, often wearing masks, is slightly higher than in previous weeks. IMAGES

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Traffic on Paris ring road intensifies ahead of lockdown lift | AFP

Traffic returns slowly to the Paris ring road as France prepares to lift lockdown restrictions next week. Mayor Anne Hidalgo has announced that some busy roads will be reserved for bicycles to try to limit the crowds on public transport. IMAGES

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