THE next six months could be very entertaining for political watchers as France takes over the presidency of the European Union on July 1.
With a distrust amongst many of the workings of Europe, as well as the world economy coughing and spluttering, French President Nicolas Sarkozy is likely to face some interesting challenges.
This is the president's first real opportunity to establish himself on the world stage following his election victory last year, but with the Irish no vote on the Lisbon Treaty still fresh in the minds of European leaders, if he is able to find a solution for this his standing would be sky-high.
THESE days, Poitiers might not figure on the list of European Road Races, (Monaco, Angouleme and Pau being the sole survivors) but at the end of June the streets of the city echo to the roar of over one hundred classic cars commemorating the Dunes Road Race, writes Beryl Brennan.
AN open day at a special forces army barracks in Carcassone went horribly wrong this afternoon (June 29) when 16 people were injured due to live ammunition being used during a demonstration.
France 24 reports that 15 civilians were injured, as well as a soldier, and the incident occurred as marines from a parachute regiment demonstrated to the public the techniques involved in hostage liberation exercises.
IF you follow This French Life through your RSS reader then there is a good chance you won't have seen the competition which was launched on Friday.
Ferry company DFDS Seaways has offered tickets for four people and a car on their Newcastle to IJmuiden service, providing a link into northern France, and all you have to do is leave a comment, check out the competition.
DRIVING around France is a real pleasure most of the time, zipping along almost empty roads with the sun shining and the breeze blowing can't be beat.
But the summer months can be hell if you get caught in the Grand Départ as people head out from many of the towns and cities in France to holiday homes and coastal resorts.
THE rising cost of oil is being blamed for the decision by Flybe to end its direct service between Belfast and Paris.
Flybe only started the route in April but with fuel costs seeming to be heading upwards the airline has been looking to cut costs, with the Paris link facing the axe from July 26.
The airline has said it will still offer a link but that passengers will travel via Manchester or Birmingham depending on the best connection times.
THE minimum wage in France is to be increased by 0.9 per cent on July 1, the second increase in recent months.
Around two million workers receive the minimum wage, or SMIC, with the increase resulting in an hourly wage of €8.71 (€6.84 net), or €1,321.02 per month for a 35 hour week (€1,037.53 net).
Website: Le SMIC
WITH the warm summer weather seeming to be taking a hold in France, and the long school holidays just around the corner there will be plenty of places to explore.
You can tell things are hotting up as the Country and Music festivals are rolling in, but you can also take your time to stroll around the gardens in Burgundy, or walk through the pages of Victor Hugo's famous book, Les Misérables
MANY readers of the site run gites and holiday homes to help pay the bills, so by way of thanks for continuing to drop in here's a chance to get your property in front of others.
Using the comment form below, if you have some late availability deals in your gite then write a couple of paragraphs about it, the dates you've got free and include a simple website address if you can (just make sure it starts with http://).
Keep it short and sweet, and please no upper case as it is difficult to read. So what are you waiting for? Get typing.