Posted by / Category Politics /

It looks like things are going pear-shaped in France. It started a few weeks ago when Gerard Depardieu decided to move to Belgium, just on the other side of the border. Everybody assumed, rightly or wrongly, that he had made such a move to avoid the new punitive French taxes. Gerard Depardieu’s ‘exile’ was ‘pathetic’ according to France’s current prime minister, Jean-Marc Ayrault. The actor, understandably hurt, wrote an open letter in a national newspaper explaining that he had had enough of a country that didn’t recognise hard work and success, was coming from an humble background, and didn’t deserve to be branded ‘pathetic’ (you can read the full version – In French, here). Everyone, from politician to celebrity, had an opinion on the matter and voiced it. It is fair to say that it has kept the media busy for at least a couple of weeks -all thanks to Gerard Depardieu. What was, essentially, a private decision, became an overnight political debate. I wouldn’t want to be in Gerard Depardieu’s shoes -after all, whatever his reasons, he is free to go wherever he wants.
The story took an unexpected turn when Gerard Depardieu managed to get a Russian passport in a few days. He received it and showed it off in a Russian outfit. He was also offered a property in Mordovia, as well as a possible job as a culture minister.
My question is therefore: is Russia the way to go? I like it very much in London. Why does everybody want to leave France? Did I miss anything? What exactly is going on in my home country?
Come to think of it, it is a crazy world, isn’t it? In London, we don’t have a lot of sun, but certainly do have loads of fun. We take things a bit less seriously over here, which is nice. France loves to stigmatise successful people. I didn’t see it when I was living there. Maybe, sometimes, you have to leave your home country to have a more open mind and become less judgemental. That’s certainly what has happened to me.
And once you have your eyes more open, I am not sure that you can go back. I am not a tax exile (I wish I were, but, unfortunately, that’s not the case.), I am a fun exile. I laugh more over here.You can’t put a price on being less judged and having more fun, can you?
So what do you think? Will he go back to France after this media storm? I don’t think so.

Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London
  • SarahHague

    You’re right, there is a lot of stigmatising of successful people in France, like they should be ashamed of their success. There is so much jealousy of people who are paid well and have nice cars and big houses, like they don’t deserve them and should be living in a hovel the same as the losers.

    Weird, and not an attractive part of the French psyche.

    I should think Depardieu will steer clear of France for a while until it all blows over and the media find another target for their feeding frenzy.

  • Makes sense Gérard Depardieu and Brigitte Bardot having Russian passports – they are both built like Russian Bears!

  • My thoughts on this is that success should not be criticized when it is accomplished with hard work and effort. And living in a country founded on emigration and immigration, I see nothing wrong with people moving around from one place to another. We are a mobile world after all, aren’t we?

  • OK. I admit it. I don’t understand the 75% tax rate. Oh, I know, that obtained in America a lifetime ago. But, 75% is a bit much. I have less of a problem with taxing the heck out of inheritances- because as the converse of what Depardieu said- they did nothing to earn it.
    Maybe this will be just the thing that the French need to say to up the rate for the middle class (hint, hint- one needs to do that in the US, as well- but all of us should wait for two years or so to let the economy stop teetering) and keep the top limit closer to 40-45%

  • MuMuGB

    That’s not very kind! That said, if they move to Russia, they will be colder than in France.

  • MuMuGB

    Just like you, I don’t believe that he will come back. I have never seen my home country so polarised. It actually saddens me. Talent and hard work should be rewarded, but it is not how it works, apparently!

  • MuMuGB

    No one understands the 75% tax rate. This new tax was actually rejected by our Constitutional council, but on a technicality rather than on the rate itself. Above 1M€, 75% of taxes would have been levied. This doesn’t include social contributions (something like 19% if my memory serves me well)

  • MuMuGB

    In short, anything above 1M€ is for taxes. This shocking because French bureaucracy is at its highest and nobody is considering any reforms. It is like putting more water in a leaking bath. I’d rather give to a charity of my own choice

  • MuMuGB

    Totally agree. Judging is easy. Going forward and respecting each other’s choices is far more difficult.

  • Well, if G.D. had to pick a country, he picked the right one. A place that gives more to the haves and ignores the have-nots. I wonder if they’ll send him to Siberia the first time he complains about Putin. I lost all respect for Gerard with this move because it shows how ignorant he is of oppressive Russian politics (or, perhaps, how completely self-centered he is).

    I do think the 75% is outrageous. After all, those are the people who have the money to move a few hundred miles across a border and a whole continent of countries which could give them shelter. I wasn’t aware, though, that the French resent success so much. I guess that’s because I hang around with people when there who have only just enough success to have a poorly heated second house in the countryside but not enough to come anywhere near the 75% rate.

    I love your line, Muriel, of “fun exile.” The one word I would never apply to the French is “raucous.” I would love just once to encounter a French person who would throw his/her head back and laugh out loud.

  • I love the idea of you being a ‘fun exile’ – what a great phrase, Muriel! Maybe old Gerard thought he’d be having more fun in Belgium/Russia. Poor chap, whose business is it but his where he wants to set up home?

  • MuMuGB

    I know! They really gave him a hard time and I can’t help it, I do have some sympathy for him. It is after all, his own business. As for fun, I love London, but I am less sure about Belgium or Russia. I suppose that we will just have to wait and see.

  • MuMuGB

    That’s me! I am raucous then. I do have fun. I love to laugh. Maybe that’s why I have always felt like a misfit in my home country?
    That’s why I am a fun exile.
    As for GD, I believe that he had a knee-jerk reaction because being stigmatised the way he was is never nice. To an extent, I understand him. Our politicians gave him too rough a ride.

  • jpagemanuel

    More fun in less sun sounds good to me. I think the sun is overrated anyway. Who wants overexposure and then skin cancer, right? ;-)) (and yes, it’s amusing to see that what should be a private decision–migration—has become part of public debate….then again the private has always been related to the public and vice versa…*putting on my sociological hat*)

  • This is my absolute favorite line, M: “sometimes, you have to leave your home country to have a more open mind and become less judgemental” So agree! Things changed for me when I moved too, but I think it had more to do with allowing myself to be a different person because I was more easily able to break free from my own preconceptions of myself. =P

  • MuMuGB

    You are right Samantha. It is good to be a bit different sometimes. Just like you, I had to break free from my own preconceptions…

  • MuMuGB

    We can’t have it both ways, can we? less sun, more fun.
    It looks like I have made my choice now.