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Time seems to pass more slowly in Normandy, where we are spending our Easter break. I love it here. First of all, it is completely empty and we have the beach all to ourselves. Apparently, the hordes of tourists will arrive next week. And, to top it up, the weather is simply perfect -coming here for Easter was a massive gamble, and I am pleased that we haven’t had any rain yet…

The big shock came when I started watching the news on the national TV channels. To cut a long story short, I don’t feel French any more. There is a general election at the end of the month and the campaign is simply appalling. For some reason, the candidates want to find scapegoats to explain why the economy over here is in such a dire state. Nothing is said about the mandatory age of retirement -at 62, France is one of the countries where you can retire reasonably young, given the life expectancy. Some civil servants still have the right to retire at 50 or 55 but obviously no-one talks about it. And in most places, you only have to work 35 hours a week -the rest is paid as overtime, hence you earn more. Seeing your physician will set you back by 3 Euros (you pay 23 and get reimbursed 20), and public education is very good and entirely free.

But guess what: some French have betrayed their home country: they left for tax heavens such as Belgium or …London. I am afraid I belong to the traitors now. To punish us -because we are somehow responsible for the mess- the candidates want to create an”exit tax” and various other new taxes. In short, people like me are the ones to blame for the turmoil. As you know, I am a really bad person. I totally admit it: I am much happier in London and no exit tax will make me come back. Naughty me. You can’t put a price on happiness. Even if taxes in London are high too (I am sure that French people wouldn’t believe me, but sadly that’s the case…).

And what is even funnier is the battle of the partners. French politicians seem to belong to the same circles where -once again I apologise for being so blunt- everybody slept with everybody. Segolene Royal is now campaigning for her ex-partner Francois Hollande, who left her for the journalist who was covering the French campaign, Valerie Trierweiler. As for the actual first lady, Carla Bruni, well, she had affairs with various politicians before marrying the president. It is a small world, isn’t it?
I could continue but I am sure that you see my point.

So where does this leave me? Well, I don’t know. I feel less and less French, that’s for sure. And I will get my British passport sooner rather than later.

Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London
  • But don’t you think the clown act with Boris and Ken is almost as bad? admittedly it’s “only” the mayorship of London that is at stake and not national politics, but I sure don’t feel very much like identifying with them1

  • Sophie

    Interesting article. I’m English, married to a Frenchman, now living in London after 12 years of living in the south of France (Alpes Maritimes). We’re back in France for the Easter break too (Avignon & Nice) and I’m following the election preparation. What worries me is the strength of the extreme right & extreme left this time round, are we facing another 2002 second round?!?

    The idea of the exit tax is ridiculous too! About time the 2 year unemployment benefit at 60% gross salary was cut maybe? After living on the French Riviera for so long & watching everyone take their benefits and them go and sit on the beach I’m very cynical.

  • Exit tax – seriously crazy!

  • Dear Muriel, I urge you to leave the dark side and come over to where David Cameron wields magic with his Light Saber!

  • Marie V

    I learnt something today, I did not know Francois Hollande and Segolene Royal broke up, quite interesting she still campaigns for him. Anyway I think this election is quite weird and I don’t have one clue who I will vote for. Not sure I like Irish politic management either.
    When it comes to politic, I prefer neutrality, I consider myself from nowhere!

    Enjoy the break and the sun! Here it’s freezing!

  • SarahHague

    You’re right, it’s a pretty frivolous campaign. Do watch Canteloup on weekday nights after the news on TF1. He mercilessly takes the piss out of everyone and it’s hilarious.

    I can’t vote, not being French, so I’m just watching and rolling my eyes at the antics of the candidates and the nuttery of Hollande.

  • And imagine if DSK were still around in politics …

    Small consolation but even in quaint Switzerland where we work 40 hours plus a week and the retirement age threatens to go up again (63 and 65 at present) we have lousy politicians (I do not know about their sex lives though) and skyrocketing health insurance premiums plus a dismal job situation: young qualified people will not find a job due to lack of experience, older people are laid off and will not find a job again as they are considered overqualified (so why push the retirement age even further up?).

    Enjoy your Easter break and keep your fingers crossed for lovely spring weather!

  • Ah but all that blame and petty game-playing sounds very much like British politics to me. (Maybe just with less of the bed-hopping!)

  • Adam

    HI there opposite here British living in France with french nationality, but I have to agree with what you say. I dont think I have ever seen an election campaign so useless. It’s like a group of the Little Boys Club playing together forgetting France or planning their next who shall we sleep with

    BTW a visit to the doctor cost 23 Euros refunded at 70% – 1€ forfeit (15.10€ the rest you need a “mutuelle”

  • Admittedly, I am not one to keep up with politics either worldwide or right here in the US where I live. But it seems that one group of people or another is always responsible for any number of social problems. It’s politicians’ way of taking the blame off the leadership. Interesting post as always!

  • Jpage Manuel

    Citizenship is a tricky thing, isn’t it? There is much to think about where this is concerned and it’s something that really should not be taken lightly. I am guilty of this. I am now an American citizen but if you asked me, I will still tell you that I am more Filipino than American. But am I?…really? Am I still up to date with Philippine current events? politics? economic policies? Or do I now find myself more involved in American politics and the upcoming elections? How Filipino am I still? And how American have I really become, though I resist and deny it? You have brought forth a lot of important questions, Muriel. Thanks for this post!

  • MuMuGB

    Just like you, I don’t know where I belong any more. Maybe that’s what makes us so special…

  • MuMuGB

    It is amazing, isn’t it? There is always somebody else who is, supposedly, responsible for the whole mess. I simply hate this way of thinking because pushing the blame onto someone else will not solve the issues…

  • MuMuGB

    Hello Adam! Nice to “meet” you. How do you like France? The other day, I had to take my daughter to a private GP because I hadn’t managed to secure an appointment. The cost was £69, not covered by my insurance of course. I miss France sometimes.

  • MuMuGB

    The bed-hopping is a must in any French campaign. Politicians are supposed to have affaires and seduce women. As for British politics, I tend to like the level of transparency that you get on the debates over here. But I agree, French and British politicians can be very similar…Some things never change…

  • MuMuGB

    I can’t start to imagine what would have happened if DSH had still been around…
    Lots of friends have moved to Switzerland, and I didn’t know that it was as bad as what you are describing. Take care.
    The weather in London is OKish so far…Fingers crossed.

  • MuMuGB

    Shame you can’t vote! When will you become French? As for me, well…I can’t wait to become British…
    Hollande doesn’t do it for me either.

  • MuMuGB

    Sorry it’s freezing Marie! Poor you! It is a bit grey over here too. Yes, Sego & Francois Hollande broke up. They had 4 kids. Not that it changes my view of the campaign…

  • MuMuGB

    Don’t repeat it Elizabeth, but I find the British way of debating more fun. What is wrong with me?

  • MuMuGB

    It is complete madness. It just sends the wrong message.

  • MuMuGB

    Well, at least they were not arguing about their female conquests. Where did they find those two again?

  • SarahHague

    I have no intention of becoming French actually. Being British suits me just fine. 🙂

  • Penelope J

    Enjoyed your insights/comments about the current French elections. The exit tax sounds a lot like England in the 50s when people were only allowed to take or send a small amount (like 10 pounds) abroad. At least French politicians don’t have to seem/pretend to be religious, monogamous, straightforward, etc. The French sound much more interesting and colorful than politicians arguing about women’s rights, abortion, birth control, and religious issues.

    BTW, I love Normandy! Glad you chose to take a break there.