Storming Bastille

In France it’s not polite to talk politics. But I’m not french.

On his way to vote yesterday, David spoke to his brother, his mother and his father, and not once did he ask them who they were voting for. His family is very, very close, and it’s taken me a long time to become comfortable with the fact that everything I do, or we do, they are privy to. So it’s odd that they won’t discuss something like voting. They only know how David is voting because I posted a video on Facebook two weeks ago during the first round election results.

This is the first time in the history of the fifth republic that a president has not been re-elected for a second term. So I was nervous all day. I didn’t want to get my hopes up.

We left about an hour before the results were announced to go to the socialist headquarters at Solferino. It was a mad house. Beyond crazy. People were climbing on top of signs to get a better view of the screen. The countdown started at 30 seconds to 8 and by the sound of the crowd, we thought Hollande had won, but we couldn’t see the screen, so it wasn’t until the man on top of the cross walk sign screamed out “Hollande gagne!” that we knew for sure.

We had planned to take the metro to Bastille after that, but instead just walked the whole way there. The police routed the crowd through some of the bougiest neighborhoods in Paris, and we passed some Sarkozy supporters going the opposite direction who screamed out “on est dans le merde” from the back of their vespas, (we are in deep shit) or just trudged by with their heads down and their flags rolled up. One little girl stopped and tearfully asked her mom to wipe off the French flag on her face. I felt bad for them. I know how defeated I felt when Bush got re-elected. Most of the apartments were shuttered, but a few Hollande supporters cheered us on our walk.

We stop for a celebratory crepe. With raspberry sorbet. (Pink is the color of the socialist party).

This restaurant owner was obviously a (Francois) Hollande supporter

The crowd at Bastille was enormous, and combined with the huge crowd who walked from Solferino it was ginormous, but everyone was in good spirits and there were no elbows this time. Unlike in the US, people are used to being crowded and you can squish through easily. People don’t “guard” their spot and refuse to move. We popped our champagne, shared some like good little socialists, enjoyed the music, and left around midnight, so we didn’t get to see Hollande give his victory speech.

I gotta say it was a good day.


12 Responses to “Storming Bastille”

  1. Parisbreakfasts Says:

    THANKS Em for all the infoI think it's the law that you can't tweet or post for 24 hrs before the election.someone said they tweeted'London Radio' in code to mean something or other re: the electionWho knew?

  2. eMerly Says:

    My husband said the French media can't release any poll results until exactly 8 pm because if they did it could "influence voters" so he was checking the Swiss news.

  3. MademoisElla Coquine Says:

    Yeah, thanks for the recap!!! We weren't brave enough to head over. You're a trooper! What a great experience you had!No one had to use their A-K? Yes, it was a good day. ; )

  4. Emily in Exile Says:

    If I had seen what it looked like I wouldn't have gone either. I'm glad we started at Solferino, it was fun to walk through the streets with a jubilant crowd, and there was lots more room so I could enjoy it. I wanted to stay all night partying at Bastille but my husband had to work the next day.If there was going to be an AK action in France that day it would have been at Concorde, so I felt safe 😉

  5. kristen Says:

    Thanks for sharing the photos! we were in the loire valley on sunday and i'm a bit disappointed that we missed all of the action in Paris since I'm not sure we'll be here in another five years. It's great to see all the people out and about… i feel like in the states, by the time November rolls around, most people are just sick of the entire thing!

  6. Emily in Exile Says:

    yeah, it goes on forever in the US and they waste so much time and money. I was surprised that the first round is two weeks before the final round and the old prez is out three days later. Bam! c'est fini.The strikes are just as fun, and I'm sure there will be plenty of those while you are here.

  7. DjuL le Zouèk Says:

    Pretty nice blog. I like your comment about "In France it's not polite to talk politics.". I totally agree with you. It's also not polite to talk about money too ;)I'm French and I have been living for 4 years in the US.Here it's not polite to talk about sex or religion. Different countries, different cultures. So interesting though!

  8. parisbreakfast Says:

    The crepe with pink framboise sorbet would make it all worth while…miam miam

  9. Emily in Exile Says:

    Thanks DjuL :)I also read somewhere that it's not polite to talk about the food you are eating while you are eating it. But it is ok to talk about food in general. So many rules to learn…If I could combine all the great things about France and the US and take out all the bad stuff, it would be a perfect country… but it wouldn't be France or America anymore. So, I just take the good with the bad.

  10. Emily in Exile Says:

    a crepe break is always worth it!

  11. DjuL le Zouèk Says:

    Same thing for me over here, but can't find too many great things in rural Iowa…Regarding all those "rules", they are all fuzzy. The more I think about how it works in France, the more I get confused 😦 And same issue when I try to understand how it works in the US.The thing you said about food is true and not true. Yes, it would be bad to talk about how cute is a rabbit or how it was skinned while you are eating it. But you could talk about how you picked the strawberries you're eating or how foreign workers are exploited in Spain to pick them up… Then of course you can compliment your host about the food you're eating too 😉 So I'm not sure I understood you correctly.One last thing. To be more specific about the "In France it's not polite to talk politics". Once again, it's true and not true. Yes, it's true because French people will not tell you for who they vote. And as you have probably noticed, in France we don't have bumper stickers. People don't like to display their own opinions. It's a little bit like religion, it's a private matter and stays at home. But people love bashing politics! And it's usually a good topic of conversation, to talk about what the current government is doing, or even just the mayor of your town. In France, when you meet a random person, you can either talk about the weather or what's going on in politics. And even foreign affairs can be a good subject of conversation too.I really like to try understanding the differences, they are so many things like that. Here in the US, the thing I am still trying to understand after living for 5 years here, is how friendships/relationships work. It's really hard! In France, I know when I get close to someone and when I can invite him over or just stop by without much notice. I know when I can start joking about certain things. Here, people seem so friends, but then it's difficult to figure out how close they are.I hope my answer will not make you more confused…Sorry for the slow response btw.Julien

  12. Emily in Exile Says:

    Iowa? That sounds…. vastI've read the food thing a couple of places, so I ran it past my husband and he stopped and thought, and said yes, it is rude to talk about the food you're being served. But he is from Northern France and his mom was pretty strict, and it's not like his opinion is the end all be all truth. And lots of times he is wrong. He told me Scientology had been legally declared a cult by France, which it hasn't. But right now it's tourist season, so I put on my white sneakers and fanny pack and pretend I'm just visiting and don't worry about the rules. ;)I don't know why I said that it was rude to take about politics. People love to ask me about Obama (the mayor made a "yes we can" joke at my wedding) and Mitt Romney (a lof of French people consider Mormonism, Scientology and Jehovah's Witnesses cults). I meant it was rude to ask someone who they voted for which seems a little coy when they are so open about other things.David complained about the same "friend" thing when he lived in California. Now that I've been gone for a while, I do notice that people can be really fake friendly and flaky in the US. Californian's are way too laid back about everything. I go back once a year and there are always people who want to get together for lunch and tell me how much they miss me, how is France blah blah blah…. then they disappear for another year! I want to sit them down and explain that we have email AND telephones in France. But that would be too forward.It seems like in the US you have to play games and act coy otherwise you come off as a serial killer or a friendless desperate shut-in. The women I've meant in France have either become my friends, or they haven't. There isn't that fake "lets get together soon" thing going on over here.

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