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FILM

French TV and films to watch in February

Classic films, new comedy, water-cooler drama, culinary reality, and world-class sport all vie for our attention in the shortest month of the year.

French TV and films to watch in February
Image: Totems / Amazon Prime

Here we check out the best of what’s on offer across French TV and streaming platforms in February.

Claude Berri collection – Netflix

From February 1st

Oh, Netflix … with not one but seven films from the great Claude Berri available on the first day of February, you are spoiling us.

The on-demand platform will add Tchao Pantin, Jean de Florette, Manon des Sources, Uranus, Le Vieil Homme et l’Enfant, Germinal, and his penultimate film Ensemble, c’est tout. Try to watch them all – but if you can’t, start with Jean de Florette and Manon des Sources … then watch them all.

The Winter Olympics – France 2 and France 3

From February 4th to February 20th

Some 87 French athletes have travelled across the world to take part in the Winter Games in Beijing.

There are plenty of reasons to question this event, but for these athletes just getting here is the culmination of many years of effort – and there’ll be some epic performances on (artificial) snow and ice during the competition.

Une intime conviction – Netflix

From February 6th

Antoine Raimbault’s courtroom drama, based on the true story of the two trials of a Toulouse law professor following the disappearance of his wife in the early years of the 21st century.

All but one of the actors play real people who were involved in the actual case – Olivier Gourmet plays current Justice Minister Eric Dupond-Moretti, who was involved in the case in his previous career as a lawyer.

Prête-moi ta main – Disney Plus

From February 11th

Middle-aged Parisian bachelor Alain Chabat is in no rush to get married. But, when his devoted mother Bernadette Lafont, and five sisters agree that he should settle down, they set Luis up for a series of doomed dates.

To stop their well-meaning match-making, he asks his best friend’s sister Charlotte Gainsbourg to pose as his new girlfriend. We think you know where this is going…

Top Chef – M6

Wednesday, February 16th, and Replay services from February 17th

Good news and bad news for fans of culinary reality shows. Top Chef returns this month to dominate Wednesday evening schedules for weeks to come, with its usual mix of cooking challenges (think the French version of MasterChef).

This time, sadly, there’s no Michel Sarran to lead the yellow team. He’s been replaced by Glenn Viel – the youngest chef in the world to be awarded three Michelin stars – as the fourth chef leader, alongside Philippe Etchebest, Hélène Darroze and Paul Pairet. 

 

Totems – Amazon Prime

From February 18th

1965. The frozen heart of the Cold War. A French rocket scientist is sent out into the field on an impossible covert mission – and promptly falls for a Soviet spy. Niels Schneider, Vera Kolesnikova, Lambert Wilson and José Garcia star in what’s already being described as ‘Event TV’.

Le Chant du Loup – Netflix

From February 20th

As if seven Claude Berri films and a courtroom drama weren’t enough, this high-tension undersea thriller with Francois Civil and Omar Sy will have you biting your nails to the quick later in the month.

On board a French nuclear submarine, everything rests on a man with the gift of recognising every sound. Deemed infallible, he makes an error that puts the rescue mission and the crew in danger. It’s directed by Antonin Baudry – who’s also a diplomat specialising in cultural affairs, comic book author, and screenwriter. You have to wonder how he finds the time…

Weekend Family – Disney Plus

From February 23rd

Eric Judor stars in Disney Plus’s first French production – a comedy – as a three-by-three father, with three daughters by three former partners, whose already complicated life becomes even more difficult when he falls in love for a fourth time. 

Comme des Garçons – Amazon Prime

From February 25th

A womanising sports journalist in late 1960s France organises a women’s football match for his paper’s annual fete, and ropes in the editor’s assistant to help him. Little do the warring pair realise that they’re about to create the first women’s football team in the country.

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ENERGY

What households in France can expect in the event of power cuts

The French government continues to insist that power cuts are very unlikely this winter. Nevertheless, there is an emergency plan in place, so here's what it says about power cuts, from length and frequency to warning times.

What households in France can expect in the event of power cuts

Power outages in France during the winter of 2022-2023 are still unlikely, and President Emmanuel Macron has urged people “not to panic.” However, they are still a “real possibility” and if you would like to be prepared for potential power cuts, here is what you should know:

When and how will I know if there’s going to be a power outage?

You can continue scanning the situation using the website and application Ecowatt.

READ MORE: ‘Ecowatt’: How to use France’s new energy forecasting website and app

You will be able to see an ‘energy forecast’ for the following three days – which will put your local area into the category of Green (no strains in the grid), Orange (the grid is strained, consider decreasing energy consumption), or Red (the grid is very strained, power cuts will be inevitable without a decrease in consumption).

If EcoWatt goes red, the first step will be asking businesses to make voluntary decreases, so for example factories could go onto a three-day week.

If this still doesn’t work, then targeted power cuts may be necessary – but these will be limited in time and area and planned in advance.

The government says that power cuts will last for no longer than two hours and will be done on a commune basis – so there will never be a situation where a whole département will be blacked out, far less the entire country.

So how do I know if my area will be affected?

If Ecowatt is red, keep checking it – at 3pm each day it will be updated with any areas that face power cuts the following day.

At 3pm you will be able to see whether your département will be impacted and at 5pm you will be able to check your individual address to see if you are in a ‘load shedding’ zone (délestage in French) – the technical term for a planned outage.

You can set up alerts by SMS and email on both the application and website.

And of course there will be extensive media coverage (including on The Local) of planned cuts. 

How long would the rolling blackout last?

French government authorities have specified that power outages would not occur for more than two hours at a time.

They would occur either in the morning (between the hours of 8am and 1pm) or in the evening between the hours of 6pm and 8pm and would not affect crucial buildings such as hospitals. 

If you are impacted by a power outage on one day, you can rest assured you will not be in a “load shedding area” the following day, power bosses will vary the areas for targeted cuts and no area will have two consecutive days of cuts.

What are the things that might be impacted in the event of a power cut?

There are several every-day items that could be shut off during a power outage that you might need to be aware of; 

READ MORE: OPINION: France faces the real possibility of power cuts this winter and it can’t blame Putin

ATMs and Contactless Payment – If you are in an area that will be impacted by power outages, consider taking out cash the day before. During the power outage, you may not be able to access an ATM or use a credit/ debit card to pay, depending on whether the card reader is fully charged. 

Elevators and digicodes – if you live in an apartment block then both your lift and the electronic door codes will not work. Your building might block access to elevators during the rolling blackout. If you know you will be in an area where power is cut, you might want to consider postponing your heavy shopping trip or furniture delivery to the following day.

Digicodes and access badges also will not work without electricity. However, that does not mean you will be locked out or trapped inside, as the electricity is only used to keep the door locked. 

Shops closed – While supermarkets with generators will be able to remain open, you can expect some smaller shops to be closed during power outages.

Public transport – This will depend on where you live in France, though you can expect some services to be interrupted. Local authorities have been tasked with coming up with their own response plans in the event of power cuts. The French government has asked local authorities to err on the side of caution, in order to avoid the possibility of passengers finding themselves stranded in the middle of a track. As for the Paris Metro system, this will not be affected by power outages. Government spokesperson Olivier Véran told BFMTV on Friday that it runs on “its own electricity network.” You can expect more detailed information in the coming weeks.

Schools – While this has not yet been confirmed, the French government is reportedly working alongside the Ministry of Education to develop plans to close schools in the mornings if the area is to be impacted by rolling blackouts. This would be to protect students and teachers from having to be in the building without access to heating, alarm systems or lighting. Schools would be open again in the afternoons, as power cuts are not set to take place between 1pm and 6pm. 

Phone and internet service – During a power cut, there could be interruptions in telecommunications (both for mobile and landline devices). If you have an emergency, you should still dial 112. As this phone number is accessible regardless of the telephone operating company or line, there is still a chance it will be covered by at least one operator in the area. Call centres for the fire department and the police will continue to function. 

Traffic lights – Like other illuminated traffic signs, these are powered by electricity. It is therefore possible that they will be out of service during power cuts, so consider avoiding driving during a power outage.

Charging devices – If you learn that your area will be impacted by a power outage, consider charging any devices you might need during the day the night before. Keep in mind though that the power cut will only last two hours.

Hot water – If your water is heated electrically, it likely will not be available during a power outage. It would therefore be advised to plan around the two hour power cut for your hot water needs.

Refrigerators and freezers – There is no need to panic here – the power would only be off for two hours, so your food ought to remain protected, as refrigerators can keep cold up to four to six hours after the power shuts off. As for freezers, they can keep their temperature for 24 to 48 hours.

And what won’t be affected?

Priority sites such as hospitals, prisons, police stations, fire stations, critical factories and other emergency services will not experience power cuts.

If your power line also services a priority site, then you will be spared from blackouts. For this reason, people living in urban areas are less likely to be impacted by power cuts than people living in rural areas. As for Paris specifically, the city is so dense and is connected to so many priority sites that only about 20 percent of the Parisian territory could be impacted by power cuts. 

Current estimates show that about 60 percent of the French population could be impacted by power cuts – the remaining 40 percent are either connected to a priority line or are part of the 3,800 “high-risk patients” who are dependent on home medical equipment.

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