Paris emphatically did not have politics on its mind


On election day in Paris, there was little sign that people had politics on their minds.

They didn’t.

There they were, out shopping for the ingredients for lunch, strolling past the Seine, riding electric scooters round like crazy and generally taking the air. Paris, as the cliché goes, is always a good idea. Along the river bank,  a man on a bicycle offered “free talk” to anyone who needed it. Another built up a curious following as he trained three retrievers to rescue an orange ball from the Seine and then climb the four-feet brick revetment back up on to dry land. One of the three dogs was the most gutsy and willing; another would howl every time the ball landed in the water, then stand on the bank and make a piteous appeal for something – gumption, energy, it wasn’t clear – rather than setting off to fetch it back.

In the Rue Montorgueil food market, on a pedestrianised street in the centre of Paris (in the 1st and 2nd arrondisement), Parisiennes queued at the boulangerie “just because it’s Sunday,” as some said. Others people-watched from cafe tables and shopped for fresh fruit and vegetables. The market, north of Les Halles station, is considered a foodie heaven.

The perceptible disinterest in politics – I hardly ever saw an election poster in the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 9th, 10th and 12th arrondissements, for instance – was reflected in the turnout for the first round of parliamentary elections on June 12, Sunday. Polling firm projections estimated the turnout to have hit a record low of about 47 per cent.