Posted by: kathandroger | November 26, 2013

La Crise continues

Whilst the UK seems to be slowly pulling itself out of the deep recession, France seems to have still further to fall. The Restos du Coeur have just begun the 2013/4 winter campaign, 29 years after comedian Coluche established it. Coluche died in a tragic accident (some reckon he was bumped off by the secret services) the year later, so missed out on the development of his project. However, I’m pretty sure he’d be disgusted that the Restos are likely to feed in excess of 1 million people this winter, ie a sixtieth of the population. We have been volunteering for the Restos (a cross between a food bank and a free supermarket/coffee shop/free clothes/place to get advice/ just a chance to get out and talk to someone) since we arrived in France and last week I spent the whole week registering people – examining their incomes (generally not much) and expenditures (generally not much either) and accepting them or not. Our centre at Chatellerault was 18% up on the same period last year. We will end up helping in excess of 800 families. It feels as though ‘la crise’ is far from over here.

The executive in the form of President Hollande and Prime Minister Ayrault continues to be inspirationless and frankly clueless. Each measure proposed seems to be promptly withdrawn once those who are likely to lose out protest. This weekend it was the horse riding centres, whose VAT is going up. Last week it was the cereal farmers (who quite frankly are the last people who should be blocking Paris’s main routes with their tractors). And then there’s the increasing wave of right-wing extremism and racism with Mme Le Pen at the helm. The most recent incident left me speechless. Christine Taubira, the justice minister (very competent and highly personable) who originates from French Guyana, was visiting Angers. A crowd, including children as young as 10, waved banana skins at her. This is outrageous behaviour. It received comment in the French media, but it should surely have received much starker condemnation from Mme Taubira’s colleagues and superiors than it did. Hollande’s popularity index has risen this week from 26% to 29%…it feels that the downside potential is still much greater than the upside…


  1. There is not much sign of increased prosperity in our neck of the woods.
    There have been more job losses due to closure of a distribution centre and the local town now has more charity shops than any other kind. Only the shops selling the cheapest, thinnest toilet rolls you can imagine seem to survive!

    We may be technically coming out of recession but things still seem to being going downhill here.

    The story about the banana skins is shameful, but the news here today is all about David Cameron introducing measures to ensure that the anticipated influx of Romanian people won’t be entitled to benefits for several weeks, something about which I have very mixed feelings. Most people think we will have hordes of Romanian gypsies rather than migrant workers, which worries me, having seen how they affect villages in the Loire.

  2. I see Manuel Valls has teamed up with Christiane Taubira to fight racism. He seems to be quite skilled in the art of managing cognitive dissonance given his approach to the gypsies.

    I couldn’t agree more about the cereal farmers. It’s about time they stopped raking it in and the pastoralists got a bit of a go. So long as the subsidies encourage more or less traditional pasture to be re-created as opposed to just paying beef producers to produce more so we end up with feedlots everywhere.

  3. Very thought provoking post. We agree about the cereal farmers too. Along the Aigronne, many of the water meadows have been ploughed and put to maize. A lot of it is still unharvested as the combine they are using has to be a half-track to cope with the waterlogging. This is compacting the soil = more waterlogging. Really they should just give up with the (heavily subsidised) maize. If they must cultivate it, how about biomass? Recovery of the natural water meadow flora would take years. P.

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