Wednesday, May 25, 2011

FRANCE - Life is beautiful, but less than before

"Come on, let's go," joked Thierry Roussel. It sits behind the table in the dining room, open the laptop and goes to a site called Auchan Drive. "You said you wanted to shop with us," says his wife, Isabelle. So, uh, here. "It is 22 o'clock on Thursday evening at the Roussel, Cenac, a village in the vineyards to fifteen miles of this great city (well, big ...) what Bordeaux.

The two cadets, Remi, 9 years, and Melanie, 13, are in bed, the eldest, William, 15, is on a school trip to London. Race on the Internet? Even for food? So what, over the daily visit to the bakery, * * the grocery, butcher *? Gone is the bucolic weekly market in the shade of the trees, on the proverbial village square mottled sun? Gone are the small glass of red at the pub? No, no, "Isabella, they have not disappeared and still buys meat at the butcher once a week, fruit and vegetables at the Sunday market, bread from the baker in the village every day.

"But for the rest, we shop online," she admits. That way, we only buy what we need for the week, and we are not tempted by anything else: no treats, nothing that is not on the list. And when there are more, there are more. "Roussel's not in a desperate situation, but they must be careful.

On the screen of the laptop, they check the prices and special offers, opt to label [products Auchan]. One thing is certain: France remains a country where life is good ... until a certain point. Thierry has almost always worked 60 hours per week, or even 70. Up at 4 am, back in 20 hours, until December 2009, he was responsible for the management of non-perishable products in a supermarket in Bordeaux: an important post, with a team of 14 people under him.

Aged 45, he was in the business for twenty-two years. In late December 2009, one night he went to work at 3:00 in the morning "to help lift tubes boxes of Christmas chocolates unsold, remove seasonal stalls, all that. And then I got sick. I had a bad dog. I've found kidney stones. I had to undergo four operations.

"Beginning in February 2010 while he was still sick, he received a letter indicating his layoff. Two weeks later he was dismissed for serious misconduct. It was bogus, provides Thierry: they had nothing concrete to blame him (quite the contrary, the management had recently offered a promotion), and certainly not a shred of serious misconduct.

But large retailers * does not give gifts in France. Prices should be lower, everyday, on all products. Every penny counts. And, over forty, an employee starts to get expensive. The evening, Roussel going about their business: Isabelle is the gym, sings in a choir, the children are swimming, theater, tennis, catechism.

Otherwise, there's TV: cop shows, American and French, game shows, variety shows. But not reality TV, they hate that. Alfie has a DS and Wii [game console] William loves manga, Melanie loves the series Beverly Hills 90210 and 000 euros per month Twilight.3 After lunch, Thierry fate with his record of job search under the Arm: 8 inches thick, ten or more applications per week for a year, a result, a total of seven interviews, and perhaps two or three real interesting proposals, mainly in supermarkets, at a salary less twice important than the last.

For now, there is no obligation to accept. While many recognize that the state is more generous than before, most people who lose their jobs are still entitled to about 60% of their former wages - previously was 70% - and yet two years . Because of his dismissal for serious misconduct, Thierry affects only 54% of his salary (or 1 000 euros less than before) but it still has a year of unemployment before him.

It remains manageable, especially Isabella, 40, after being an assistant to an entrepreneur for years, is now official in a community of Commons. * The official status is one of the most enviable in France. "Certainly there are benefits but they are increasingly called into question; retirement is the last on the list.

I have nothing against working a few more years. This is normal, we all live longer. But should that pensions are high enough that people have at least the impression of working for something, "said Isabelle. The Roussel live with just over 3000 euros net per month, before deduction of tax.

That said, they should not pay so much tax it. With three children, they form a large family *, and as such, they benefit from a range of tax deductions enviable, not to mention their 480 euros monthly family allowance means-tested. Every month, they must repay their mortgages to the tune of about 800 euros - they still have ten years to finish paying the bills for their homes, a large three-bedroom house they have built ten years ago in a subdivision on the edge of the village.

To which are added various invoices and Euro 300 per month tuition: Melanie and William were both educated in private schools in Bordeaux. Like many French, Roussel save conscientiously and are reluctant to spend what they do not. They put a few hundred dollars aside every month on savings accounts and life insurance is less than before but it's still decent.

Previously they were vacationing in rentals in the Mediterranean. Today, says Isabelle, a week's rental costs 900 euros or more: "We will more often in the small apartment my parents vacation in Saint-Lary in the Pyrenees." This afternoon there before go pick up Jennifer and two of her friends out of school, we go to Bouliac the nearby village where Thierry grew up and where his parents still live.

For Roussel as for many French, the family has great importance. And not just because the father Thierry - a former policeman who receives a pension that most people will never touch - is very generous. Melanie and William can both thank him for their laptops. A few days later, Isabelle takes me to see her mother, who still lives in the beautiful house at the other end of town where Isabelle has grown.

Over coffee and cake, she deftly withdrawn my opinion on President Sarkozy never reveal to me his (Isabelle voted for him, but like many others, she now thinks it is "almost a buffoon as bad as Berlusconi. There is simply no "). The middle class too Roussel did they feel to be representative of France today? Yes, says Thierry.

"We're right in the middle, so we do not interest policies. If you're poor, you have benefits and allowances. If you're rich, you have a special treatment, you are a friend of Sarkozy. I never had the week of 35 hours of socialist and I never saw the "work more to earn more 'Sarkozy. We are paying for everything, you're taxed on everything, and with low wages.

And I do not have much hope to change that. "The debate on immigration? It is "ridiculous," said Thierry: "Almost no one in France, is 100% French. How can we believe that 'France for the French is a serious policy? "But Marine Le Pen will make a good score, he predicts:" It is much more nuanced, less in the conflict and less scary than his father.

"Are they proud to be French? "Sure," says Isabelle. I think we have a beautiful country that has fought hard for large values. We do not believe in ultra-liberalism, we believe in protecting people against the omnipotence of the market. We would have happened last year if we were American? We would be homeless.

And look at us, always telling us complain, we're good French. We do not measure the opportunity we have. The problem is that we bazardons all without considering the consequences. Sure some reforms are needed. But France does not deny his principles. We pay enough taxes to get proper services.

But I'm afraid it does not last. I really afraid of that. "

No comments:

Post a Comment