BONNES FÊTES ET BONNE ANNÉE However you celebrate the holidays, Out My Window wishes all of you peace and joy. Paris has been relatively warm this past week but this morning, Christmas morning, it is a brisk 34oF/1oC. However, the sun is out, at least for awhile, and the bells at Notre Dame de Passy are ringing loudly. Below: windows in Paris.
Many of us wondered if the Gilets Jaunes and the many others who have joined them would back off for the holidays. After Macron’s speech and then the shootings in Strasbourg, a plea was made to not protest the following Saturday, Act V as the Saturdays were being called. The police were exhausted, many had been called to Strasbourg and there was hope that the GJs would give Paris a break for the holiday weeks. But no, they called for a protest. They intimated that the government was hiding behind a false statement that the shootings were by a terrorist and just lying to stop the protests. Paris geared up for yet another Saturday of protests and violence. Thirty of the metro stations announced in advance that they would be closed, the American Church and the American Library both closed on Saturday and the exhausted police were called out once more. However, the streets were much calmer here in Paris. A man was killed in a traffic accident near the town of Perpignon when the driver rammed into a lorry that had been stopped by the GJs at a roundabout. That was the tenth fatality during the six weeks of protests.
There seem to be a number of things happening: 1–the word of the protests spread by way of social media particularly Facebook. So, as a french friend reminded me, 175,000 people or less are deciding the fate of a country of ten million. Facebook has become the wild wild west of the Internet. One can expect all the dangers that come from a lawless entity with no boundaries and no rules. I, personally, have deleted my account. Not only do I not approve of anything that Facebook is doing, I don’t trust it to do anything at all in my interest. For any of you looking to delete your account, there was an excellent article in the NYTimes two months ago advising how to go about removing yourself. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/10/technology/personaltech/how-to-delete-facebook-instagram-account.html
2–Many Parisians are sick and tired of all the violence. Where once there was sympathy and empathy for the poorest amongst us, destroying monuments, burning cars and wreaking havoc has caused a majority to back off and condemn those that are still actively creating chaos. It is not clear how many of the original GJs are still involved. The protests have been hi-jacked by the ‘Black Bloc’, anarchists and right-wing extremists.
3–The protests have expanded far beyond fuel taxes. Those on the street now include students, academics and citizens begging for more say in the French government. For an excellent report by an activist, you can read Aurelie Dianara, a Paris-based academic and activist: https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/france-protests-yellow-vests-macron-paris-gilet-jaunes-fuel-prices-minimum-wage-a8681366.html
4–The far right politician Marine Le Pen is taking advantage of the chaos to make the protests her own. She has brought in hatred of immigrants as a part of the protesting. The frustration and hatred of Macron may actually make her words more palatable to the french public. After all, during the 2017 elections, many didn’t vote For Macron as Against Le Pen. As Populism (which in my vocabulary is another word for Facism) grows in Europe, it could easily go the opposite way.
LES SOLDES When all else fails, go shopping….. The Winter Sales start January 9, 2019. For those of you who are lucky enough to visit Paris in January and February, the Winter Sales are extraordinary. There are two state-mandated sales during the year: the Winter Sales and the Summer Sales that start end of June and go through early August. Almost all stores want to get rid of all their stock. Discounts will start at 50% and by the end of the six-week sale, be down to 75%/80%. People wanting high-end luxury clothing can find great deals. People will do a lot of research during the first week of January, then be ready to be the first person in the door of their favourite shop. Many, like me, wait until the mad rush of the first couple of days is over and then we go shopping.
That’s a wrap!