Fiona Alderman: French Elections and Tricky Bureaucracy

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The main story this month was the Election of a new President of France. The incumbent, Monsieur Macron was criticized for being too interested in forging good links on the international stage, going to Ukraine and being less on his own home ground. He  didn’t even campaign here until very late on. The other main candidate was Marine LePen, on the extreme Right. Her father is Jean Marie LePen and very much feared. It was a tight battle over two rounds of voting.
They say the French do the first with “le coeur”the second with “la tete”. First, the heart, the second with the head. The other candidates didn’t fare well, except perhaps Melonchon, extreme left. He is also one to watch. LePen was advocating for the poor and the increase in the cost of living, the complete opposite of Macron.People on the ground here have said they were either not voting at all, or going for Macron, a “fait accompli”. Pretty dire but now it’s done.
Which brings me to a mounting problem with French bureaucracy. Les fonctionaires are the civil service, and well paid they are too. The highest number of the population it is said in the world.
We recently encountered a problem when Barry’s French pension was cut for no reason. No explanation either. Getting on to the phone, and waiting on hold for ages, to be put onto different departments who could find no trace in the system for Barry? He had disappeared. To the contrary I kept explaining. Why? All because we hadn’t sent our residents’ permits ie carte sejour which were done correctly in time , the beginning of last year. Whew! I had to get help with this, going to the social services and even to the Mayor, all who said it was an outrage. However, two weeks later we are still waiting to be reimbursed, and enter into the system again. They told me at one point that we should have known, and that there had been some change since Brexit. No one told us!!!!  We are just supposed to know. How do people in very rural areas, without a computer manage, how do they know? I think also that the French don’t know how to say Sorry. Ie “pardon excusez nous. ” Update next month I think.

The Centre of Salignac

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In 22 years I have seen so many changes in our village, but I wanted to tell you about our lovely shops that sustain us every day. A little corner where I sit at the Cafe Des Voyageurs to drink a little rose´ wine, I look over to the hairdresser Carole Coiffure, the  farm shop Boutique de Producteurs, and the drycleaners Vapeur Verte..
How were they 22 years ago when we first came? The hairdresser was there, called Lydie, and I went there for many years before she retired. Old fashioned style, and everyone chatting to each other over their perms and colourings, it was a good chance to hear everyday French. Now taken over by Carole, it is not quite the same. More modern, but with Covid restrictions, wearing of masks, and only one person allowed at a time, it is quite different.
Our lovely farm shop as we call it, was originally an amazing antique store. Vast and interesting.
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Run by Lionel, now sadly dead, we bought many interesting pieces there, which I still have. Now, 10 years later La Boutique flourishes as well  but in a different manner. Run efficiently by a team of
women, and promoting local farm produce, it is of excellent quality and at a reasonable price.
Vapeur Verte was a potters and gift shop before,  another vast space that was taken over by lively Christelle about 10 years ago too. A thriving and much needed dry cleaners business for hotels and gites. I use it for my Dutch house gite Holiday House, as she calls it,  that I have been looking after for many years. So, back to the Cafe´. Le tabac, PMU, Loto, and run by husband and wife, Cecile and Lilian. We knew it before when it was just a tabac / bar, and run by another husband and wife, who I used to find intimidating!! I would creep in for a glass of wine and read the paper and listen in to French conversation. Reading the French news would help with the language. They saw that I was not a tourist, and intended to stay, but like so many here it has taken many years to be accepted.Now of course I am well accepted. The other feature in Salignac Le Cafe de la Place, run by Cecile and Lilian’s son and girlfriend, is another thriving  business. First opened many years ago by Cecile’s grandparents. What a wonderful history and of family. We love them.
tribute to barry
In tribute to Barry who died on the 30th May 2022 after a long battle. I will miss him greatly.
June 2022 Fifi’s stories from rural France.
Fiona Alderman's Blog: Just A Heartbeat Away
Fiona Alderman: The Eye Van Comes to Salignac

This section: Fiona Alderman blogging from The Salignac Foundation France

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Avatar of PatByrne Publisher of Pat's Guide to Glasgow West End; the community guide to the West End of Glasgow. Fiction and non-fiction writer.

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