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CULTURE

New Miss France insists she’s a feminist

Beauty pageants around the world have come under fire as sexist vestiges of a bygone age. But Diane Leyre, who was named Miss France over the weekend, has defended the institution.

Diane Leyre is crowned Miss France 2022. She is a self-described feminist. Beauty pageants around the world have come under fire as sexist.(
Diane Leyre is crowned Miss France 2022. She is a self-described feminist. Beauty pageants around the world have come under fire as sexist.(Photo by Sameer Al-DOUMY / AFP)

The newly crowned Miss France 2022 insisted that she was a feminist after winning this year’s competition which has drawn criticism from the government’s gender equality minister.

“As a woman I wanted to show that you can be Miss France and a feminist,” Diane Leyre, a 24-year-old real estate professional from the Paris region, told a press conference on Saturday night.

“For me, being a feminist is deciding what I want.”

READ MORE Miss France contestants to get employment contracts for the first time

The Miss France competition and other beauty pageants around the world have long been criticised by women’s rights groups as objectifying women and promoting unhealthy body images.

Opposition was led this year by France’s Gender Equality Minister, Elisabeth Moreno, who denounced the competition’s “outdated rules… which can be discriminatory”.

Contestants have to be single, more than 1 metre 70 centimetres (five foot six inches) tall and be less than 25 years old, although organisers announced Saturday that the requirement to be unmarried will change “to bring us into step with the era”.

Possibly including transgender participants “is part of our discussions,” the head of the Miss France company, Alexia Laroche Joubert, told Europe 1 radio on Saturday.

More than seven million people — around one in seven French adults — tuned in to watch this year’s competition on the TF1 channel on Saturday night which was filmed in a stadium in the northeast of the capital.

“We all need a bit of lightheartedness,” Culture Minister Roselyne Bachelot told the BFM channel on Friday, defending the contestants whom she described as “far from being empty trophies.”

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CULTURE

How to make the most of France’s ‘night of museums’ this weekend

More than 3,000 French museums will stay open long past their bedtimes on Saturday May 14th for the 18th Long Night of Museums.

How to make the most of France's 'night of museums' this weekend

The annual event takes place on the third Saturday in May each year in towns and cities across the whole of Europe. There are temporary exhibitions, themed guided visits, musical entertainment, lectures, concerts, food tasting, historical reconstructions and re-enactments, and film projections. Best news of all, almost everything is free. 

Here’s The Local’s guide to getting the most out of the night:

Plan, plan, then throwaway the plan

Consult the online programme and map out your route. A little preparation will make the night much easier – 3,000 museums will be open long into the night in France, and you don’t want to waste hours standing on a bridge arguing about where to go next. 

The site has suggestions for major cities, including Lyon, Dijon, Bourges, Strasbourg, Lille, Rouen, Bordeaux, Toulouse, and Marseilles. And four museums that have been closed to the public for years – Musée de Cluny in Paris, the Musée de Valenciennes, the Forum antique de Bavay in Nord and the Musée départemental Albert-Khan in Boulogne-Billancourt – are reopening on the night.

So, decide where you’re going beforehand – then feel free to dump your carefully plotted plan in a bin when you overhear someone else talking about this extraordinary thing they have discovered and go with the flow.

Be patient

When you are consulting the official website, try not to scream. You have to navigate a map rather than a traditional programme format – though, at least, this year it’s broken down in to French regions, which is marginally less frustrating.

It is actually much easier if you know the specific museums you are interested in visiting, as they have individual programmes of events. But half the fun of a night like this is visiting somewhere you’ve never been before.

Wear comfortable shoes and travel light

Wear shoes for the long haul rather than the first impression. There will be distances to cover and you might even find yourself dancing in the middle of a museum. 

And blisters are never a good partner with great art. Leave your skateboard and shopping trolley at home, they will just prove a nuisance when you are going through security checks.

Come early – or late – to avoid endless queues

Arriving at the Louvre at 8pm is always going to mean a giant queue. And nothing ruins a night quicker than spending most of it standing in an unmoving line. Try to escape peak times at the major museums – but check they’re not doing something interesting that you don’t want to miss – hip hop dance classes in the Department of Oriental Antiquities, in the Louvre’s Richelieu wing, for example…

Go somewhere you’ve never been to before

Do a lucky dip. Pick somewhere you’ve never heard of and know nothing about. What about the Musée de Valenciennes, which reopens after years of being closed to the public, for example. Its giving visitors the chance to see its fine art under ultraviolet light – which will reveal things you wouldn’t normally see.

Or you could delve deep into the Aude Departmental Archives, in Carcassonne, and discover the amazing life stories of some of the region’s historical figures

Make it social

Gather the troops, this is a night for multi-generations of family and friends. Art, history and culture, is very much a shared experience and you can usually find something that everyone loves – or hates.

Plan a pitstop

You will always need refreshing and wouldn’t a night of culture be wonderfully enhanced by a delicious picnic on the banks of the Seine, if you’re in Paris. 

Your mind will need a little pause from all the intellectual overload. Find a spot, listen to the music (there’s always music from somewhere) and watch the Bateaux Mouches go by as you eat a baguette with some good local cheese and some saucisson.

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