Le Canard enchaîné

How a Chained Duck keeps France on its toes.

I don’t read the newspaper but if I did it would be Le Canard Enchaîné.

The investigative weekly first appeared in Paris in 1915. It was founded during World War I by a couple of French journalists, Maurice and Jeanne Maréchal, to help keep up moral in France. More than 100 years later the newspaper is still going strong, despite the slow demise of print media everywhere.

The title ‘Le Canard Enchaîné’ is a play on words taken from ‘canard’ (duck) which is also slang for a newspaper or what in English we might call a ‘rag’, and ‘enchaîné’ which means chained or linked. The Chained Duck has been quacking its revealing stories and satirical cartoons about the French political and business class for decades. The paper is said to have our leaders quaking in their boots. De Gaulle was known to regularly ask: “What has the bird got to say?”

Stop the press: You don’t read the paper? How do you keep yourself informed about what is really going on? I admire people who take the time to read the paper. The level of information you can get from a decent newspaper is far superior to anything available on the web, via radio or television.

France is a country with a lot of newspapers. Major dailies include Le Monde, Le Figaro, Libération, Les Echos, L’Equipe…to name but a few of the national editions. Alongside these are many respected regional papers: Ouest France, La Voix du Nord, La Dépêche du Midi. The list goes on, along with many local journals and the free press (meaning the papers that are distributed for free to commuters, not necessarily ‘free’ editorially).

The Canard ensures its editorial independence by the fact that it takes no ads and is privately owned, mostly by its own employees. The newspaper practices old-school journalism, relying primarily on leaks from sources from within the government. It is available only in print in France and digitally outside of Europe.

The latest edition of the Canard features stories about shootings in Trumpland, Brexit woes and the ongoing saga of the Notre Dame renovations. The latter story has been in the news this week following revelations of extensive lead pollution resulting from the fire in the cathedral and in the surrounding streets, posing a risk to both local residents and workers. The complexity of securing the site in order to begin the renovations has proven more challenging than first imagined and it is looking like the promised timeline will not be respected. In the meantime, traditionalists and modernists debate over whether to rebuild the structure with the exact same materials, i.e. oak beams, or something more fireproof.

A suivre.

Et toi? Do you read a daily or weekly newspaper?


  1. pedmar10 · August 15, 2019

    all internet nowdays from around the world in many languages lol! never read the canard or duck for that matter! Salut!

    • MELewis · August 15, 2019

      Me neither but in these days of so much ‘fake’ news and firewalls to get to the full story on news sites, I am thinking it might be worthwhile to read a good quality newspaper!

      • pedmar10 · August 15, 2019

        I read newspapers on internet and do so in different languages countries so I will be able to determine on my own the right news. even in France what the canard say figaro says, parisien say le monde says is a world of differences;;;)

  2. acflory · August 15, 2019

    Love the name, but haven’t read a print newspaper in years. I do read articles on the Guardian though [online]. Like many people, I’ve lost faith in the main stream media. 😦

    • MELewis · August 15, 2019

      I also read a lot of the Guardian pieces as they show up in most of my news feeds! Mostly good reporting but not the same investigative standard as the Canard. Agree we don’t have many sources to trust these days!

      • acflory · August 16, 2019

        Sadly my French isn’t up to reading the Canard any more, but I agree re trusted sources. Seems everything has been commercialized, including the truth. 😦

  3. phildange · August 15, 2019

    I only read “Le Canard Enchaîné” . I started at 18 and I buy it every wednesday . This paper is an institution in France, of which I don’t know an equivalent anywhere . It was born during WWI, but not to boost the collective moral, it was created as an antimilitarist paper . Imagine, in 1915, when all papers were promoting ” l’Union Sacrée” for the war against “the Huns”, publishing an paper agaisnt the war! They spoke about the billionaires making fortunes thanks to the war, the politicians always lying about the front, about the basic soldiers life, about the mass murdering generals … They sure had iron guts . The paper was completely censored (hence “enchaîné”) and was even forbidden .but made a rebirth in 1916 and never stopped since excepted from 1940 to 1944 ( why ? Suprising isn’t it ?).

    It is fully French, the kind like me, antimilitarist and anticlerical, handling irony, never evoking
    private life nor physical flaws, always attached to a perfect written language – an exception in this domain too . They kept the tradition of previous centuries French press, the funny drawings scattered around, the cultural pages, cinema, litterature, theatre, music-hall, ballet . For instance in 1958 a young author composer singer made his debuts in a Parisian cabaret, his name was Serge Gainsbourg . The few newpapers who mentioned his show violently shot him down . Only one paper was elogious, you guess it, “Le Canard” . No wonder, the guy in charge of the music-hall critic was no less than Boris Vian, the fabulous writer ( for those who have some culture) . The Canard had many prestigious collaborators along the decades, as I said it’s an institution, unequaled in the world, and we rely on them to be warned in advance about villainies planned by the Power, which happens very often, the real state of public services and the real ways of private huge companies , They also caused the fall of Giscard d’Estaing because of his sordid greediness, revealed Fillon’s baseness with money among many more examples but NEVER any private life attacks nor Anglo-Saxon “press” sexual scandals . .
    I stopped reading any well known press “information” a long time ago but I often thought and think “What would we do without Le Canard? ” . The existence of such a newspaper, with no ads and a total independence from the corporates and the so-called politicians is like a miracle .

    • MELewis · August 15, 2019

      What a glowing review coming from someone who is so distrustful of the mainstream. I must say, you have almost convinced me to subscribe! Also, I realize just how ignorant I am of so much of what is really happening in this country…maybe a bit of exposure to ‘real news’ will improve my ‘culture générale’. BTW, I also read that they came back for a few years after the war as the Le Canard Déchaîné. Anybody that can make that kind of clever pun deserves our support!

      • phildange · August 15, 2019

        The Canard is a perenial mine of wordplays, I tell you this, they are masters of the instrument that the French language is . They mix high levels and popular expressions, just what I like to do . Along the last 100 years they also invented many expressions that became popular while their origin is now unknown by the majority . Just an example “bla-bla” in 1946 .

        The national or international fame of the Beaujolais wine, through the Juliénas , owes most of its immense popularity to the Canard (yeah they are real Frenchmen ) .A group of them were refugees in Julienas during WWII and they made a regular (and free) promotion for this wine in the following years . It is a national institution, I insist, in the full sense and in many senses .

  4. 355101pkl · August 15, 2019

    i would like to have seen a just a little more of the article next to the Duck in Chains. I may be mistaken but it appeared to be about the arrest of Rosa Luxemburg whose life i find very interesting . She was a very courageous woman of her time who died in such tragic circumstances

    • phildange · August 15, 2019

      You’re right, it was about Rosa’s last arrest in 1916 . I wonder if there was ONE other western newpaper who wrote about this fact in the middle of the Imperialist war . This is a powerful indication about the Canard’s spirit and guts .
      (Speaking of revolution heroins, it’s worthy to read about Louise Michel, the flamboyant muse of the Paris Commune in 1971 . She was a true Socialist saint, her behaviour in deportation in New Caledonia with her female Kanak companions of the penal colony shows the extraordinary uprightness of her “spitirual” Socialism) .

    • MELewis · August 15, 2019

      Once again I am sadly ignorant and did not know the story of this incredible woman. Thanks to your comment, and a quick read of Rosa’s Wikipedia entry, I now know a tiny bit. Her bio brought some back painful memories though, of struggling to grasp dialectical materialism in my university sociology class…

      • phildange · August 15, 2019

        Rosa and her companion, Karl Liebknecht (the only one “Socialist” MP who had stayed true to his word and voted against the war credits in 1914), in 1918 fought for the proletarian revolution, founders of the Spartakist League . While the Kaiser had only sent them in jail, the “Socialist” government of Weimar Republic had them battered and shot in the streets . Reminds maaany “Socialist” governments of the last 100 years .
        Rosa was a brilliant theorician as well, Louise Michel did not write much, but her life from childhood to death is an unheard example of the total purity and ingrity of her ideal (anarchist, feminist). She was abolutely detached from her own affairs . An incredible human being .
        Edit : please correct, “the Paris Commune in 1871” of course . What a dumb typo .

      • 355101pkl · August 15, 2019

        so it was an article about her arrest.! Thanks to the broken snippet seen, we can recall a fascinating era and remember a remarkable woman. We may never come to agreeing about her politics If you immerse yourself in the time and the place and the dramatic upheavals in Germany you can perhaps gain a better understanding of why Rosa Luxemburg was a revolutionary. My interest was not only in her politics but in her life and passionate loves of her personal life as was revealed in some recently published letters . You may ask why a disabled Jewish woman took such chances with her own life when bands of roaming ex soldiers with violent racist ideas were roaming the streets looking for victims. Yet whatever you think of her, here was true courage embodied in one human being Would it not have been better had she had tried to save herself and left Germany?

  5. George Lewis · August 15, 2019

    All forms of media from loony left socialist to extreme right wing have their own form of bias either subtle in the slant of the article or blatant with the use of adjectives (see above).You have to either have a good bullshit antenna or read both left and right leaning sources to get balanced information. I find the internet to be a useful tool if you have the time and interests.

    • MELewis · August 16, 2019

      You are right, Dad, and thanks to you I do have pretty good BS antenna! 😂 Agree that the web is a good place to obtain and balance out contrasting views provided you do the reading. Sadly, too many just people react to the headlines.

  6. kairosia · August 15, 2019

    I guess I’m a news junkie. I read the hard copy of our local paper, delivered to our front door daily, as well as the NY Times and Wall St. Journal online. For me, having been a debate coach in a former life, it’s important to have more than one side of the story always, to read not only that which pumps up my opinion but also the opposition. As I see it, one cannot responsibly advocate for a position without knowing the counterpoint.

    That said, I know I am sadly deficient in keeping up with international periodicals. Your post inspires me to seek out Le Canard and other Euro and Central American papers. How have I missed knowing about Le Canard Enchaîné? Thanks for the interesting post.

    • MELewis · August 16, 2019

      You are welcome! Good for you for staying on top of the local and national news via such eminent print outlets! I find the time factor hugely challenging but am going to start reading the Canard at least. Another good one you may already know of is the Courrier International, which while not independent offers translated excerpts and views from many international news sources.

  7. TammiePainter · August 15, 2019

    I am hunting down a copy of this poor little duck when I go to France this fall. Do you know, is it available everywhere, or just in certain cities?

    • MELewis · August 16, 2019

      I believe it’s available on most newsstands in France. Hope you manage to find a copy. Bon voyage en France!

  8. Garfield Hug · August 15, 2019

    I read a national paper and it keeps me updated.

    • MELewis · August 16, 2019

      Good for you — I am amazed that so many people make the time!

  9. Joanne Sisco · August 16, 2019

    I confess I stopped reading the paper when my husband switched to digital. I miss the paper paper. Reading it online just wasn’t the same.
    On the other hand, there is zero risk of me missing anything since Husband constantly ‘shares’ the news with me – and more importantly, his opinion 😉 – whether I want him to or not!

    • MELewis · August 16, 2019

      Oh yeah, I have a husband like that too! Every morning he reads the WSJ, The Guardian and watches excerpts from the late night shows. 😂 Sometimes I have to go and read the story just to understand what he is talking about though.

      • Joanne Sisco · August 16, 2019

        Maybe it’s a guy thing 🙂 I’ve been u

      • Joanne Sisco · August 16, 2019

        oops – accidentally hit the ‘reply’ button before I finished my thought. It’s still too early in the morning 😉

        I’ve been up only an hour and already Husband has interrupted me 3 times to insist I read something. I have my own personal editor 😆

  10. Suzanne et Pierre · August 20, 2019

    I do still read the newspaper but mostly on their various apps. Our local daily has even stopped publishing on paper and is only available online. I have adapted to reading online. I do read other newspapers like Le Monde, NYT, The Gardian and others but always from renowned sources. I still even watch the news on TV. I think I am maybe the only left watching…

    • MELewis · August 21, 2019

      Amazing you manage to keep up with so many, newspapers, Suzanne! I find I only scan the headlines online but if I want to read a whole story it is more likely in print. As for the TV news, it is still the major source of information for the majority in France. Interesting to know that its interest in Canada is waning. I enjoy catching up with news from the CBC but like you, mostly online.

      • Suzanne et Pierre · August 21, 2019

        Don’t get me wrong. I don’t read all of these newspapers every day… I do scan the headlines and will read a few articles from some of these sources. The only one I read every day is the local French newspaper (La Presse). We do watch CBC News and read their articles online.

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