While Rome is burning, as it were, in the ghetto suburbs where 'les jeunes' are armed to the teeth with Kalachnikovs, hold up Marseille TGV trains à la Robin Hood to rob the passengers, set traps for the police and generally break the law with impunity, the Languedoc-Roussillon regional magazine, L'accent du Sud, reminds us that all is not on a downward slippery slope into Hell.
On pages two and three we are told about a new initiative to provide lycéens with a 'Pass contraceptive' from the beginning of April. L-R is the third region in France for the number of abortions carried out - nearly 9000 per year, 20% of which are done on girls aged 15-17, and a third on women aged 18-24. Only the regions of PACA and Corsica have higher rates.
The Pass consists of a 'chequebook' which will be available from the lycée infirmary upon request, without telling the parents. It contains a coupon which has to be returned to the Région, coupons for a blood test and analysis, one or two consultations with a doctor, a coupon for the pill, plus a small stock of preservatives (both male and female). I asked my eldest if he knew about this initiative. From his response "Eh what?" I deduced that no, he didn't. Girls aged 15-17 can already ask their doctor to prescribe the pill anonymously but this initiative ensures total anonymity because, by using coupons, parents won't see the reimbursement of the consultation or pills on their CPAM statement.
On page 4 we see that 2.4million passengers used the five L-R airports (Nimes, Montpellier, Béziers, Carcassonne, Perpignan), bringing in €808million and which employ 7450 people. Every euro invested by the Région in 2012 returned €21. I thought Nimes was heading for oblivion, so there you go!
Proof of just how dynamic the airports are can be seen on page 5. This weekend, Air France's low-cost service Hop! starts flights from Montpellier to Nantes, Lille and Strasbourg, while Perpignan will keep its flights to Paris and may even be able to offer seasonal flights to Amsterdam. My DB is incredibly rude about Montpellier airport, in comparison to Nice from where you can fly to practically anywhere in the world and brings in the world's richest folk. From Montpellier you can fly to natty Nantes...
Good news for medical students on page 8, bad news for tax payers. The Région is building a new faculty of medicine which will cost it €37.5million. The old fac is a wonderful old building in the heart of the medieval city. Lovely to visit but woefully inadequate as a centre of high tech medical teaching. The new building will be on the Arnaud-de-Villeneuve campus right by the University Hospital, so convenient for hands-on training. Behind the building will be a garden of medicinal plants offering a 'clin d'oeil' at the 800yrs of local medical history and the original Jardin des Plantes which is located next to the old fac and is the oldest in the world. It opens for the 2015 rentrée of students.
Some news concerning des jeunes who are not up to criminal activities (yes, they do exist!) can be found on page 10. Three lycées have been experimenting with the concept of an internal web-radio. The kids were given twelve hours of teaching including how to articulate, and then told to write their own material, paying attention to syntax, phrasing, vocabulary etc., and to present it ("C'était le stress!"). The project went down very well and is due to be extended to other lycées.
On page 13 we see that the Région is setting up a 'Parlement de la Mer' to mobilise the maritime community and provide it with a platform to promote this dynamic local sector.
On pages 18 and 19 we are treated to the splendid sight of the wilderness that is the nature reserve island of Sainte-Lucie not far from Port-la-Nouvelle in Aude. Cars are banned, so once you park, you can explore the 250 hectares of diverse scenery by foot, bike or boat. Definitely looks worth a visit with a well-packed picnic.
On the next page, we learn that kitesurfing is becoming big business in the region. There are now 70 zones where you can kitesurf, along 220km of coast. The internationally-renowned wind event, Mondial du Vent will take place this year in Leucate-la Franqui where kitesurfing is considered the 'discipline reine'. F-One, third largest manufacturer of kitesurfs is located in Perols, near Montpellier, and has seen its sales increase by 10% each year since 1997.
Sport is, in general, big business in Languedoc-Roussillon (page 22). In 2011 there were 109 sporting events sponsored by the Région which brought in €42million. Of the 84 disciplines, the most successful were the 160km endurance riding race in Florac, the semi-marathon at Marvejols-Mende, the car rally Critérium des Cevennes, the FISE (Festival of extreme sports) in Montpellier, and the Défi Wind at Gruissan.
I can't tell you anything about the pages written in Occitan or Catalan, but they looked to be full of cultural events. One section was interesting (and in French) though, telling us about la Porta d'Oc, an online network providing access to all the data and websites in Occitan. This year, it will be extended to take in social networks and smartphones.
I think that about wraps it up. A mooch around the good stuff that's happening in the region is a welcome relief from the monotonous output of what 'les jeunes' are getting up to. Thankfully it's not all gloom and doom!