Tuesday, August 19

National angst

19 August
The flood of Northern Europeans, particularly the Dutch and British, into France is a well-documented phenomenon. France has every kind of beautiful landscape, great weather, good food and above all space. Us Northerners who are fed up with being cramped, cold and damp are pouring into this country in our millions.

The French are worried about the dilution of their culture and lots of other issues.They don’t want the damp, decrepit old properties that the Northerners love. But they do love the price foreigners are willing to pay for these 'money pits’, they take the money and run off to buy a new build on the edge of a town then complain that their young people can no longer afford to live in the country. Any French person I meet who's wanting to sell a house will ask me if I know an English person who'd like to buy it.

The Dutch seem to be completely at ease on the issue, but the English are full of angst, loudly declaiming against the bad sort of English who are just here on an endless cocktail party behaving badly with their compatriots in bars and refusing to speak French (I have not yet found this particular party - must get better contacts).

This tension can become especially hilarious at the local café. Rural bars are closing all over France, mainly because of drink-driving law enforcement but also because a lot of French people consider it 'inappropriate’ for women to drink. Older French women are very conscious of this, but they don’t like their men going out drinking without them - unless there’s footie on the telly and they’d rather have them out of the house watching it.

So our bar is mainly patronised by foreigners. The Strange Family who run the bar really don’t like the English. They tell me they would like more French customers, I think that if they put on the sort of things French people like to do: Belote (card) evenings, Lotto, Food French people might come. I also think they'd get more local custom if they wrote their advertising flyers and bar notices in French rather than English.

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