Saturday, 19 February 2011

Spring is in the Air

France is starting to wake up after its winter sleep, not only will the jonquilles (wild daffodils) be in full bloom soon, this is the weekend of the Mimosa festivals.

Mimosa at Cluny Market
Whilst the mimosa is not native to these parts it didn’t stop Cluny market being full of the stuff this morning. Almost everyone leaving, had a bunch of these fluffy yellow flowers, giving the whole town a yellow spring glow to it.

At this is the time of year, when nature starts to get on the move, it is obviously time for the national agricultural show in Paris. The fact that this most prestigious of shows is held in Paris shows that the French still hold agriculture in high esteem. The president visits the show every year and samples the farmers’ produce from wine to beef to lamb to cheese, jams and jellies, fruit and veg, everything needs to sampled and almost every exhibitor needs to be spoken to. Well that was how it used to be done until a tee-total, almost vegetarian, Spitting Image puppet took over the job that is. The previous president, President Chirac, went every single day of the 9 – 10 day show but President Sarkosy attends for about half an hour, normally on the last day and only if he cannot make an excuse to be somewhere else. Such is his apparent disinterest in the industry that still employs more people than any other in the country.

In 2008 he showed up on the last day and such was the contempt that some of the farmers felt for him, when he tried to shake the hand of one of them he was rebuffed with “Don’t touch me, I’ll never feel clean again”. Being an eloquent man our wonderful president replied with “Casse-toi alors, pauvre con !” not too far from “ you bastard” – very presidential and all caught on video. This phrase has since followed him around and was used on a banner last week by a French teacher in Cairo during the demonstrations in Tarhir Square. The teacher claimed that this was the message that Sarkozy should be sending to Mubarak – maybe he did send it, as we all know Mubarak did step down.

This incident is just one of many that has embarrassed Sarkosy since that episode a few years ago, but this year he seems to have set out on a charm offensive regarding the farmers, he has actually officially opened the agricultural show in Paris and has spent a significant amount of time talking to farmers and apparently listening to their concerns. One farmer is even quoted as saying “this was just like a visit à la President Chirac”. A far cry from the headlines in 2008. So it looks like spring fever has come to Sarkosy as well as the rest of us and it really is just a coincidence that there will an election next year.

La Tuilerie Website

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