French astronomer apologises for ‘planet’ photo that was really . . . chorizo

A red ball of spicy fire with luminous patches glowing menacingly against a black background. This, prominent French scientist Etienne Klein declared, was the latest astonishing picture taken by the James Webb Space Telescope of Proxima Centauri, the closest star to our Sun.

French astronomer apologises for 'planet' photo that was really . . . chorizo
The 'planet' photo from French scientist Etienne Klein

Fellow Twitter users marvelled at the details on the picture purportedly taken by the telescope, which has thrilled the world with images of distant galaxies going back to the birth of the universe.

“This level of detail… A new world is revealed every day,” he gushed.   

But in fact, as Klein later revealed, the picture was not of the intriguing star just over four light-years from the Sun but a far more modest slice of the lip-sizzling Spanish sausage chorizo.

“According to contemporary cosmology, no object belonging to Spanish charcuterie exists anywhere but on Earth,” he said.

Klein acknowledged that many users had not understood his joke which he said was simply aimed at encouraging us “to be wary of arguments from people in positions of authority as well as the spontaneous eloquence of certain images”.

However, at a time when battling fake news is of paramount importance for the scientific community, many Twitter users indicated they were unamused by Klein, director of research at France’s Atomic Energy Commission (CEA) and a radio show producer.

On Wednesday, he said sorry to those who were misled.

“I come to present my apologies to those who may have been shocked by my prank, which had nothing original about it,” he said, describing the post as a”scientist’s joke”.

He was shortly back on surer ground posting on Twitter an image of the famous Cartwheel Galaxy taken by the James Webb Space Telescope. This time, he assured users, the photo was real.

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10 apps to make your life easier during a French strike

If you find yourself in France during a strike, do not fear. Here are some apps that will help you get around.

10 apps to make your life easier during a French strike

Strikes are commonplace in France, and are often highly disruptive, but there are ways to make life run more smoothly during a strike period, including these helpful apps.

SNCF Connect

If you have any train travel planned over a French strike, then this is the app to keep an eye on. You’ll be able to get up to date information, including traffic alerts, for your journey. You can also book tickets on the app.

The SNCF website will publish traffic timetables 24 hours ahead of planned strikes, and if you have tickets booked SNCF will alert you if your train is cancelled.

Essence – Gasoil Now 

With a 4.6 star rating in the Apple App store, this programme will help you find the nearest filling station, and compare nearby options based on price. The app also offers real-time user reports, which can help you avoid long queues. Alternatively, you can download the application “Gaspal” to help navigate to nearby affordable filling stations. The app is available in Spain and Italy as well. 


If you’re in a city on a strike day, it’s likely that public transport will be disrupted – but there are other transport options including hiring a bike.

Most major French cities have public bike rental options controlled through an app – Le Vélo in Marseille, Vélo Bleu in Nice, and Vélo-V in Lyon. 

In Paris, the primary choice would be Vélib which was launched in 2007. With over 1,400 docking points across the Greater Paris area, Vélib stations are usually easy to find. You can also opt for an electric bike (these are coloured blue, instead of green). 

You can rent the bike for 45 minutes for just €3 or you can consider a 24-hour rental, which would cost €5. Normally, at the Vélib station you should be able to enter your credit card information and make an account, but if that is not available then you can do so online.

READ MORE: How to stop worrying and learn to love French strikes

Keep in mind that during strikes, bike-hire services are in high demand so it may be difficult to find an available bike. The application offers a mapping service to help you find available bikes and parking spaces across the city.

Google Maps and Citymapper 

If you’re in a city, the other option is to walk, so it’s a good idea to stock up on map applications before a French strike. These will help you find the fastest way to get around, though you will want to have more than one downloaded to help double check that the information is correct. 

Bonjour RATP

This is the city of Paris’ metro system application. You can map out your trip and you can also check the “Traffic” update to see which lines are running and which are impacted by disruptions. The application Île de France Mobilités covers the whole of the greater Paris region.

If you are planning to visit other French cities during a strike, it is also worth downloading their local transport applications to get the most up-to-date information. If you plan to visit Lyon, the app “TCL” will give you city-specific information. Similarly, when visiting Bordeaux you can build your itinerary with the app “TBM” and for Marseille you can download “RTM.” 


While Uber might be the rideshare app you would normally opt for, using an alternative may be better during a strike when there is high demand. Services may be more expensive than usual, as well as being in high demand, so having a few applications, such as Bolt, Heetch, or Marcel may help you to find a rideshare faster and for a better price.


If you are planning to be in Paris, and you need to get somewhere by a designated time, you may want to consider booking a taxi in advance. One way you can do this is with the G7 app, which connects you with an official Paris taxi – the same ones that you can hail in the street, but the app allows you to book up to 30 days in advance, so it’s handy for late night or early morning airport runs. It also has an option to select ‘pet friendly’ if you’re travelling with an animal. 

Payment works in the same way as Uber – users save their credit card information on the app and therefore do not need to pay on board.  At the conclusion of the ride, the fare will be charged and the user will receive a voucher by email. 


This translation app might be a lifesaver for you during a French strike if you are feeling less confident about your language-abilities. It is quick and has a microphone, so it can play your translation aloud too. You may also consider the Google Translate app. 

The Local 

You can keep up to date with all strike-related information both on The Local’s website at the dedicated “strikes” page, and on our mobile application. 


C’est la grève

This website allows you to see any ongoing or future strikes to take place in France. 

Bison futé

This traffic website offers detailed predictions for slowdowns on French motorways, as well as tips for which roads to avoid. 


This French government website offers an interactive map to help you keep track of fuel prices and availability across the country, which is especially helpful during nationwide strikes.