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'Parisian go home': Why all the hostility in Bordeaux towards the capital's exiles?

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'Parisian go home': Why all the hostility in Bordeaux towards the capital's exiles?
Photo: AFP
13:03 CEST+02:00
Stickers have been appearing in Bordeaux telling Parisians in no uncertain terms to go back home. while Bordeaux's mayor says he is ashamed, is his city really turning against new arrivals from the capital?

In recent years Parisians have been fleeing to the south western city of Bordeaux when they have tired of life in the capital.

Indeed a 2016 survey of top-earning Parisians found that 56 percent of them would head to Bordeaux to start a new life if they ever left Paris - putting it well ahead of any other French city.

And drawn by the slower pace of life, the nearby beaches, the sunny climate, the chance to buy a decent sized property and the beauty of the city itself, the capital's exiles are heading for Bordeaux in bigger numbers than ever before.

But it appears that they are no longer wanted, at least among a certain section of the Bordeaux population, who resent the influx of monnied residents from the north.

They blame Parisians for the recent hike in property prices that has made apartments in Bordeaux unaffordable to many "locals", the lengthening of traffic jams in and around the city and the densification and gentrification of neighbourhoods in the centre.

While mayor Alain Juppé heralded the opening of the new high speed Paris to Bordeaux TGV line in the summer that cut journey times to just two hours, some locals saw it as the final straw.

Hence the appearance of the “Parisian go back home” messages (printed along with an image of the TGV) in recent weeks, that have prompted “ashamed” Mayor Alain Juppé to threaten legal action.

"The anti-newcomer attacks in Bordeaux are a shameful, I'm considering taking legal action,” said Juppé this week. "Bordeaux will always be a welcoming city," he added.

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A new group has also become active on social media in recent weeks. They blame Juppé for doing too much to promote the city to attract newcomers, whilst forgetting about the existing residents.

The Bordeaux Liberation Front against Parisianism (FLBP) has mobilized against the “surge of Parisians”, albeit more with satire than real vitriol.

But in an open letter to the city published on Twitter the group does list a number of concerns felt by the locals over how the city is changing rapidly.

“Bordeaux let's talk for five minutes. You are trying to play a role that does not suit you and we can see it. You are a big city in the south west, a little bourgeois, but also a little redneck we must admit.

“Your inhabitants are sons and grandsons from Les Landes, the Basque country, Charente and yes Spanish, Portuguese, Moroccan, from everywhere in fact. You are a city of good living, gastronomy and until recently Rock.

“But you are not a European capital and definitely not a global capital. To pretend you are is ridiculous.”

“For two years you have neglected your children. You do not even offer a roof to all of those who come to study at your universities. You are relegating your families to live forever in cardboard houses 30km from the centre, so that your latest conquerors can take even more selfies in your company.”

On their Facebook page the group writes: “Parisian friends, thank you for restoring the old Bordeaux, but suddenly the city is empty of its original inhabitants who cannot afford it anymore.”

Elsewhere there has also been graffiti appearing in former working class neighbourhoods like St Michel that has criticized the gentrification of these areas.

The anti-Parisian feeling has also manifested itself in other more humourous ways. In cafés Parisians risk paying more if they ask for a pain au chocolat rather than the locally used term chocolatine.

Nevertheless one Parisian who recently moved to Bordeaux with his young family told The Local he had not experienced any hostility, although he admitted that the city did have issues.

“I'm out and about all the time and I've never seen the stickers,” said Simon Letellier. “I've never felt any resentment when talking to people and we never feel we have to hide the fact we are from Paris.

“It's true that there is a gentrification of the centre that has come with a hike in property prices, but even many Parisians can't afford to buy in the centre of Bordeaux now.

“You can't blame Parisians for the traffic jams, because the mayor, just like the mayor in Paris Anne Hidalgo has tried to cut the number of cars in the centre.”

He also highlighted that there are positive sides to monied Parisians upping sticks to move to Bordeaux in that they can help create jobs.

But perhaps the more "Parisian" Bordeaux becomes, the less attractive it will become to Parisians. And there are other cities in France, don't forget.

After topping so many "Best Of" surveys in recent years, Bordeaux found itself surprisingly relegated down to 11th place in a recent study of the best French cities to live in when it comes to jobs and affordable housing.

Lille in the north topped that ranking. Parisians might not fancy the rainy northern city near the Belgian border but at least they'll be able to order a pain au chocolat without fear of being ripped off.

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