Written on the Walls (But Not in Stone)

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French are getting ready to go back to school, back to work and back to the real world. Soon, hot news topics won’t revolve around holiday traffic chaos, hidden gems to visit, summer jobs and seasonal food. In September, people get back to business and the atmosphere turns serious.

France is sobering up after two months where the country was unofficially on pause.

“Where were we, already?” “Oh yeah… that new president that fails to win unanimous support… oh, and the labour code reform we don’t want… eh, we still have a migrant crisis, don’t we? What? Are you saying our eggs are actually contaminated? Rhô… merde…

We won’t be here for the first national, general strike scheduled for September 12, but I already saw a couple of political gatherings and there is definitely more police in the street this week.

French are prone to contradicting, criticizing and even insubordination. Arguably, this kind of attitude gets them nowhere—major strikes and protests are fairly useless in the long run. Capitalism ain’t going anywhere, except deeper in our minds. Yet, the longer I live in North America, the more I appreciate the way some French still dedicate time and energy to fight the system. Many immigrants I know moved to Canada or the US because they wanted to live in a society ruled by neoliberalism and see the “power” of capitalist market forces work for them. Some French immigrants openly make fun of “socialist” governments and their safety net, and look down upon anyone using benefits such as employment insurance or parental leave. I was already left-wing before I settled in Canada and years of living the “free-market dream” strengthen my political beliefs. When one side rules and the other can’t do much but sell labour power to an entity, I’ll err on the side that’s powerless, thank you very much. I have dreams in which companies aren’t operating cookie-cutter corporate cults and in which creating and living are skills as valuable as making money.

I’ll protest too. I already do… in my own way.

“Universal love”, close to rue de Coudray, in Nantes

“LOL” painted between two window at height level rue du Chapeau Rouge, Nantes

“Life is beautiful and so are you” in the Tour de Bretagne neighbourhood

“Fuck cop” around the LU Tower

“Against Macron, losing my cool” (play on lyrics from a punk song by the band Trust)

“Too many fascists” under the pont de la Tortière bridge

Decal against Macro, quai de la Fosse

Stencil street art around Zola neighbourhood

Posters calling for a national strike and protest on September 12

Industrial neighbourhood around the Île de Nantes

Industrial neighbourhood around the Île de Nantes

“State, capital and patriachy, go fucking die”, place du Bouffay


About Author

French woman in English Canada. World citizen, new mom, traveler, translator, writer and photographer. Looking for comrades to start a new revolution.


  1. Martin Penwald on

    Oh, yes, the myth according to which hard work is always rewarded is one of the most stupid libertarians have. If they succeed, it is proof they are right, if they fail, it is proof that evil socialistic government regulations prevent free entrepreneurs to thrive.
    And when confronted to the fact that a majority of poors work, sometimes 2 or 3 jobs, they dismiss it by saying these jobs are worthless and people doing them barely desserve a salary, which defeat their own argument about rewarded hard work.

    • I also have an issue with the fact blue-collar workers often have jobs with measurable output/result and a low salary. Many management jobs, on the other hand, are very hard to assess in terms of efficiency and usefulness… yet, somehow, salaries are much higher.

      • Martin Penwald on

        Indeed. However, I don’t know if there are that much French expats in North America sharing this way of thinking. I know there is some, but there is still a lot of reasons for which French come here.

  2. I don’t know, I moved here for the freedom of being away from my family and from the boxes try to put you in in France, but I certainly believe in helping the most vulnerable. Heck, that’s even my job 🙂 I firmly believe that how we treat the most vulnerable amongst us is the most accurate reflection of what our society is like. And I witness it everyday, tough shit and accidents happen to everyone, even those with a “good job” and middle class lifestyle. It’s so important to have a safety net there and healthcare should be a right, not something you buy.
    That being said, French red tape is a thing for those who are more enterprising…
    And yes, I love the French revolutionary spirit!

    • I love the idea of a safety net, Canada is way better than the US for that, but again, it depends on provinces… and I’m always afraid we will lose what we have, the famous “acquis sociaux”, these benefits that shouldn’t be called “benefits” but “basic rights” like paid time off, parental leave, employment insurance, etc.

  3. Martin Penwald on

    Yes, they vote for Macron and Fillon, but Le Pen was only fourth behind Mélenchon, who didn’t do such a bad score.

        • Martin Penwald on

          Not sure. After I posted my comment on the top, it said I was about to post 2 times the same comment, which is a thing that happens regularly when I post from my tablet, but after I went back, I was the comment on the box as if it didn’t post this time. So I hit ‘post comment’ before realizing that the box was for a new thread.
          I have a feeling that there is a trouble with the way Chrome on Android handle submission fields.

          • Bizarre… ça ne me l’a pas fait encore, ça. Le seul problème que j’ai, c’est quand je réponds trop vite aux commentaires.

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