• France's news in English

'Not all of France is on the terraces of bistros'

The Local · 25 Nov 2015, 14:42

Published: 25 Nov 2015 14:42 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

In the aftermath of the Paris attacks The Local is picking out some of the opinions shared in the French press including this article which aims to remind "our foreign friends" that not all the French live their lives on the terraces.

"Standing side by side to support each other does not mean forgetting about the class inequalities in France, argues Bérengère Parmentier a university lecturer in literature.

There’s something we need to tell our foreign friends. France’s territory is not completely covered by bar terraces where elegant, overqualified girls and boys, working in music or teaching at university, drink while gently kissing.

This image of France has flooded the Internet for several days, coming from our friends around the world or even from the French themselves (#Jesuisenterrasse etc).

Of course, we like this France with its joyful terraces, and I, who am “from the 11th arrondissement” like it more than anyone, and I weep over it.

The north east part of Paris is certainly a very beautiful part of France, but it is only a small – very small – part. And all the “elevenths” (people used to call them "bobos", or hipsters) who have ventured out into the countryside, the provinces, the suburbs of France, and even the other arrondissements in Paris, know that what they embody is not always liked in France, nor by all French people.

(Photo: AFP)

There are places in France where there are no terraces. There are places where girls and boys don’t kiss in public. There are places where young people are not as qualified and don’t work in the culture industry, because often they don’t work at all. These places are also France. 

You feel so good in the sun, a drink in hand... you can do so many things. You can think, for example, of Matthieu Giroud.

I never knew Matthieu Giroud, and now he is dead. He went to see the concert at the Bataclan. He loved music and certainly loved terraces.

He was also a sociological geographer, a specialist in what we generally call ‘gentrification’ and which he preferred to call ‘embourgeoisement’: the difficult cohabitation of a certain intellectual bourgeois youth and the working class in the same urban zones. 

Story continues below…

He won’t have had time to reach the age where he could put forward answers. But if I have understood correctly, he started from a very simple principle, not a new one but useful all the same, and which I can try to sum up in one phrase: the beauty of the bar and cafe terraces covers up (badly) the class conflicts. 

To live together peacefully, Matthieu Giroud suggested, it is not enough to have different groups next to each otherin the same district, the same building, the same street. You also need to face up to social complexity and the difficulties. Like this for example: All of France is not a terrace.

There are some bastards who want to kill us and the ones we love. In the France that we want to build against them, let’s not forget that it must also include those who are not on the terraces.

This opinion piece originally appeared in Liberation newspaper in French and can be viewed by clicking here.

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Homeless man dines at top tables in France, then runs off
Photo: Prayitno/Flickr

"A man's gotta eat," he told police, after racking up gigantic bills in some of France's plushest restaurants.

Underwater museum hopes to make a splash in Marseille
A similar underwater museum piece by Jason deCaires Taylor. Photo: julie rohloff/Flickr

Don't forget your scuba gear...

Why Toulouse is THE place to be in France right now
Photo: Jacme/Flickr

Move over Paris...

And France's top chef of the year is... 'Monsieur Idiot'
Alexandre Couillon might have an unfortunate name, but he can sure cook!. Photo: AFP

Look beyond the name. He's the man who turned his family's humble "moules frites" joint into one of France's best seafood restaurants.

Could France do more to ease the worries of 'Brexpats'?
Photo: AFP

Paris is rolling out the red tape for British firms, so why not British citizens in France?

Brexit: Brits in France could face 'cataclysmic' impact
Photo: AFP

Can't France make it easier for Britons to get French nationality?

In their own words: Why French police are in revolt
"Solidarity with our colleagues". Police protesting near Paris. Photo: AFP

Police have staged protests for three nights in a row across France. Here's why they say they're fed up.

France leaning right six months before election
Candidates for the right-wing Les Republicains Alain Juppe and Nicolas Sarkozy. Photo: AFP

... and the left has been left in suspended animation.

Disgruntled French police stage protests for third night
Photo: AFP

The French government is struggling to deal with a revolt among the country's police force.

Scarlett Johansson to run Paris gourmet popcorn shop
Photo: AFP

She'll even be serving customers apparently.

Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Video: New homage to Paris shows the 'real side' of city
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
The 'most dangerous' animals you can find in France
Swap London fogs for Paris frogs: France woos the Brits
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Anger after presenter kisses woman's breasts on live TV
Is France finally set for a cold winter this year?
IN PICS: The story of the 'ghost Metro stations' of Paris
How to make France's 'most-loved' dish: Magret de Canard
Welcome to the flipside: 'I'm not living the dream in France'
Do the French really still eat frogs' legs?
French 'delicacies' foreigners really find hard to stomach
French are the 'world's most pessimistic' about the future
Why the French should not be gloomy about the future
This is the most useful French lesson you will ever have. How to get angry
Why is there a giant clitoris in a field in southern France?
French pastry wars: Pain au chocolat versus chocolatine
Countdown: The ten dishes the French love the most
Expats or immigrants in France: Is there a difference?
How the French reinvented dozens of English words
The ups and downs of being both French and English
How Brexit vote has changed life for expats in France
Twelve French insults we'd love to have in English
What's on in France: Ten of the best events in October
Want to drive a scooter around Paris? Here's what you need to know
jobs available