Podcast: France’s heatwave legacy, 15-minute city conspiracies, the first TGV

How France shifted its approach to heatwaves after nearly 15,000 people died in the summer of 2003. An urban planning concept gets picked up by conspiracy theorists. And the first TGV that started France’s expansion of high-speed rail travel.

The world has just had its hottest three months on record. But France’s worst heatwave in memory was 20 years ago, in 2003. In August that year nearly 15,000 people in France died from heat, more than any summer since. The disaster permanently changed how the country deals with heatwaves – and now, as climate change makes extreme heat more frequent and more intense, it’s having to change tactics again. Historian of public health Richard C Keller, who wrote a book about the victims of 2003, looks back at what France has learned. (Listen @1’30)

When Carlos Moreno conceived of the 15-minute city, he did not expect to be pulled into the world of conspiracy theorists. The Paris-based sociologist came up with a new concept of urban planning to try to create neighbourhoods where all services – for work and leisure – lie within a 15-minute walk or bike ride from home. The city of Paris has embraced the concept, but elsewhere it has been picked up by people who say that it is part of a plan to limit people’s movements and confine them to open-air prisons. (Listen @16’25)

France’s first high-speed train line was inaugurated on 22 September 1981, with an orange-and-white “train à grande vitesse” – or TGV – making the trip from Paris to Lyon. It started an era of reducing travel times and chasing speed records. (Listen @12’10)

Episode mixed by Cecile Pompeani.

Spotlight on France is a podcast from Radio France International. Find us on, Apple podcasts (link here), Spotify (link here), Google podcasts (link here), or your favourite podcast app ( Podcast: France’s heatwave legacy, 15-minute city conspiracies, the first TGV

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