EU coordination “essential” for opening borders, says French interior minister | AFP

France’s interior minister Christophe Castaner says it is “essential” to coordinate decisions on the reopening of borders within Europe, regretting this has not been the case following recent Spanish and Italian decisions. SOUNDBITE

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French enjoy first day on beaches since COVID-19 lockdown | AFP

After nearly two months of COVID-19 lockdown, French locals in Hyères head to the beach. A ‘vital’ pleasure, according to one happy, no longer confined local at Hyères on the French south coast.

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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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French transport minister inspects safety measures at Paris airport | AFP

French Transport Minister Jean-Baptiste Djebbari tours Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport to inspect the health and safety measures introduced to help combat the spread of coronavirus. 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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French politician visits Paris butcher shop amid deconfinement | AFP

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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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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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French President Emmanuel Macron lays wreath ahead of 8 May ceremony | AFP

French President Emmanuel Macron lays a wreath of flowers in front of the statue of General de Gaulle on the Champs Elysées in Paris before presiding over the 8 May commemorations under the Arc de Triomphe, marking 75 years since the end of World War II. IMAGES

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

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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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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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French interior minister visits mask factory | AFP

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Iceland’s beloved swimming pools lie empty during pandemic | AFP

The British have their pubs and the French have their cafés. For Icelanders though, it’s all about the pools. The country’s outdoor swimming pools are popular spots that lie at the very heart of Icelandic life, but have been closed for weeks because of the coronavirus.

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France: musician plays gypsy jazz for neighbors after cheering for health workers | AFP

French violinist Aurore Voilqué gives an improvised concert from her window after she along with her neighbors clapped in support of healthcare workers in Mandres-les-Roses, south of Paris. IMAGES

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French-born polar bear triplets explore enclosure | AFP

Three polar bear cubs born at the end of December at the Marineland park in the French city of Antibes take their first steps outside, under the watchful eye of their mother, Flocke.

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French beaches deserted amid ban, despite the good weather | AFP

With temperatures soaring to 34 degrees Celsius in some parts of southwestern France, the beaches would usually be packed. But amid a lockdown ban, the coast lies deserted. IMAGES

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French take up fruit picking to ease lockdown frustrations | AFP

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