February 5, 2014, by Guest blog

The French love a good protest

When setting off from the UK to France, I was aware, as I think all Brits are, that the French love a good manif (protest) or a good strike. The stereotype is that they love anything that will allow them to fill the streets and to voice their dismay at something. Since living in Paris I have only recently witnessed my first of these and the French were out in their thousands quite literally. It was reported that the Police believed there to be around 80,000 people on the streets. Unfortunately for myself, I was very much against the subject of the protest. I had been rather looking forward to joining in and marching through the streets. The concern of the protesters was that the “traditional family” was being destroyed. The protesters were out in force to voice their disapproval of the rights granted by a new law to allow homosexual marriage. This is a subject that is controversial with people having very strongly held beliefs on both sides of the issue. Witnessing large demonstrations is not something that I am used to, this being the first city of over a million people that I have ever lived in, and for my first major rally to be of something that I feel strongly for (though I do not hold the same views as the protesters) was quite a shock. I was unsure of how to deal with the situation and ultimately I had to leave the area as I was getting quite worked up over the whole issue. I knew that France, like with anywhere else in the world, would have opinions on both sides of any issue but to see so many people, of all ages, out in the street to protest against a law that in my eyes makes everyone equal was a nasty shock and not something that I had foreseen for my Sunday afternoon.

protest 2On a more positive note though, there is not the same binge drinking culture that exists in the UK. Whereas in the UK people gather for ‘pre-drinks’, drinking only what they have brought with them (often secure in a clenched hand), and then head out to a club, the French “Apero” is much more civilised in that everyone brings a bottle of wine which is put on a communal table to be shared with everyone else. This means that it is possible to try different grapes to find new wine varieties which is nice. More pleasant though is the fact that getting drunk isn’t the objective of the evening as it often seems to be in the UK


Posted in Cultural challenges