French Elections: 5 things you didn’t know about Jean Lassalle

Jean Lassalle is a big personality and has been involved in French politics since 1977, but he failed to make a dent during the last presidential election.

French MP Jean Lassalle is running for the Presidency for the second time.
French MP Jean Lassalle is running for the Presidency for the second time. (Photo by GAIZKA IROZ / AFP)

He has been fined by the Assemblée nationale 

66-year-old Jean Lassalle has been an MP for the Pyrénées-Atlantiques département since 2002. 

He is known for his outlandish antics in the Assemblée nationale, the lower house of the French parliament. He had €1,500 docked from his salary in 2018 for refusing to remove a Yellow Vest during a parliamentary session. 

Lassalle wore the vest in solidarity with the protest movement and said that he paid the fine “with honour and pride”. 

He grew up speaking Occitan 

Jean Lassalle grew up in an Occitan speaking area of France deep in the Pyrénées. 

He comes from a family of shepherds who practice a prehistoric form of nomadic agriculture known as transhumance. 

Lassalle is proud of his roots. During a televised debate on BMFTV in the run up to the 2017 presidential election, he described himself as the “son of a shepherd, the brother of a shepherd”. 

He has even written a book titled Un berger à l’Elysée – A Farmer at the Elysée. 

In 2003, he stood up and started singing the Occitan anthem, Se Canta, in the Assemblée nationale. The move was a protest against what he saw as a slur on the Pyrenees by then-Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy. Many other MPs cracked up laughing. 

He spent 8 months walking across France (and was disappointed by what he found)

Lasalle walked across France for eight months in 2018, to gain a better understanding of the population.

“Everywhere I went I witnessed a crisis in the standard of living, a loss of identity and the loss of a sense of a common destiny,” he told Europe 1. 

During his 4,500km journey, he said that he was shocked by the level of racism and antisemitism among ordinary citizens. 

In the run up to the 2022 presidential election, he is touring the country in a big blue bus with a photo of his face and the message La France Authentique emblazoned across the side. 

Jean Lassalle spent 8 months walking across France in 2013, covering 4,500km.

Jean Lassalle spent 8 months walking across France in 2013, covering 4,500km. (Photo by PHILIPPE DESMAZES / AFP)

He went on hunger strike to protect jobs in his constituency 

Jean Lassalle has been an elected representative, in some capacity, since 1977. 

In 2006, when a Japanese firm sought to relocated a paint factory that employed hundreds of his constituents, he went on hunger strike. The company eventually agreed not to close the factory and continue investment in the area. 

Lassalle lost more than 20kg over the course of his hunger strike. 

He is partial to a topless photo shoot 

In the run up to the 2017 election, Lassalle inexplicably posted multiple shirtless photos videos online. 

He was snapped chopping wood, trimming hedges and mowing the lawn. For someone in his 60s, he is is good shape and it clearly runs in the family – his son is a professional rugby player in the French second division. 


Member comments

  1. Un berger à l’Elysée should be a shepherd at the Elysée Palace
    Un fermier à l’Elysée is a farmer

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France proposes getting rid of penalties for ‘minor’ speeding offences

The French government is considering changing speeding laws so that drivers will not lose points on their licence if they are caught going just a few kilometres over the speed limit.

France proposes getting rid of penalties for 'minor' speeding offences

France’s Interior Ministry is considering changing its current rules for minor speeding violations – proposing getting rid of the penalty for drivers who only violate the rule by going just a few kilometres over the speed limit.

The Ministry has not laid out a timeline for when this could come into effect, but they said they are currently in the preliminary stages of studying how the change could be carried out.

“The fine of course remains,” said the Interior Ministry to French daily Le Parisien.

That is to say you can still be fined for going five kilometres over the speed limit, but there might not be any more lost points for driving a couple kilometres over the posted limit. 

READ ALSO These are the offences that can cost you points on your driving licence

Of the 13 million speeding tickets issued each year in France, 58 percent are for speeding violations of less than 5 km per hour over the limit, with many coming from automated radar machines.

How does the current rule work?

The rule itself is already a bit flexible, depending on where the speeding violation occurs.

If the violation happens in an urban area or low-speed zone (under 50 km per hour limit), then it is considered a 4th class offence, which involves a fixed fine of €135. Drivers can also lose a point on their licences as a penalty for this offence. 

Whereas, on highways and high-speed roads, the consequences of speeding by 5 km per hour are less severe. The offence is only considered 3rd class, which means the fixed fine is €68. There is still the possibility of losing a point on your licence, however. 

How do people feel about this?

Pierre Chasseray, a representative from the organisation “40 Millions d’Automobilistes,” thinks the government should do away with all penalties for minor speeding offences, including fines. He told French daily Le Parisien that this is only a “first step.”

Meanwhile, others are concerned that the move to get rid of points-deductions could end up encouraging people to speed, as they’ll think there is no longer any consequence.

To avoid being accused of carelessness, France’s Interior Ministry is also promising to become “firmer” with regards to people who use other people’s licences in order to get out of losing points – say by sending their spouse’s or grandmother’s instead of their own after being caught speeding. The Interior Ministry plans to digitalise license and registration in an effort to combat this. 

Ultimately, if you are worried about running out of points on your licence, there are still ways to recover them.

You can recover your points after six months of driving without committing any other offences, and there are also awareness training courses that allow you to gain your points back. It should be noted, however, that these trainings typically cost between €150 and €250, and they do not allow you to regain more than four points.