Vox Pops: An ideal France

On Bastille Day, Parisians discuss their hopes for their nation.

    Vox Pops: An ideal France
    Paris prepares for Bastille Day celebrations [Mustafa Yalcin/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images]

    Paris, France - Today French nationals around the world commemorate the storming of the Bastille and the beginning of the French Revolution.

    The highlight of the public holiday will see Europe's largest military parade and fly over take place on the Champs Elysees in Paris amidst a sea of red, white and blue flags honouring the French ideals of liberty, equality and fraternity for all people.

    In a year that has been marked by terrorist attacks, many say society is too fractured and the government is too right wing. Press freedom, mandatory ID cards, immigration, bureaucracy and unemployment have dominated the headlines, yet despite all the negative press surveys suggest that French people are happier than they've ever been.

    We took to the streets of Paris on this quintessentially French celebration, which symbolises the fight against oppression and an allegiance to a strong community, and asked people how they really feel about their country and what kind of France they want to live in.

    Sebastien Cousin,  hair stylist
    Sebastien Cousin [Barbara McCarthy /Al Jazeera]

    Sebastien Cousin is a hair stylist who has returned home to France from India where he worked with Vogue and numerous other publications.

    "It's great to be back. I love France, but this year France has been in the news a lot because of immigration issues, sieges, hostage takings and the Charlie Hebdo attacks.

    There's no need for terrorism of course, but the people at Charlie Hebdo took it too far.  I know of a cartoonist who worked there, he was a nice guy, just in the wrong place at the wrong time.

    We should not offend people within our society. We need to find a way to integrate more.

    The government doesn't work for the people. It works on behalf of corporations, which is ridiculous.

    On the good side there is a new movement here. It was stagnant for a while, but I feel a good new vibe coming on in France." 

    Sylvain Baron, journalist
    Sylvain Baron [Barbara McCarthy /Al Jazeera]

    Sylvain Baron is a journalist who runs a small political magazine called Poil a Grater.

    "I am part of a movement of people who want a revolution. We think France would benefit from being independent from the Euro zone and NATO.

    We need our own currency back. Trade will still be possible and we believe other countries should follow our ideal.

    We are pacifists, but we strongly believe people need to reclaim their power.

    What we have in France and many other countries in Europe is not a democracy. Also in France the senate has too much power.

    We will be taking part in a sit during the celebrations in Paris on Bastille Day. We have banners and a manifesto declaring our need for independence so we want our presence felt during the military procession."

    Mathilde Christmann, student intern
    Mathilde Christmann [Barbara McCarthy /Al Jazeera]

    Mathilde Christmann works as an intern in a hotel.

    "I will be watching the Bastille Day procession from the balcony beside the president. I am lucky enough to have great contacts and my family will be there too.

    I think French people have a very strong attachment to their country and when we move away, we always come back.

    That said, a lot of my friends are going abroad now to work in places like Dubai and New York to find work.

    The government needs to be aware that many bright young people are leaving the country to find work elsewhere.

    Immigration is a very delicate subject here, but I think a lot needs to be done for there to be a smaller divide between people who were born in France and people who weren't. I think it's the biggest issue for France at the moment."

    Michael D'Auzon, tuc tuc driver
    Michael D'Auzon [Barbara McCarthy /Al Jazeera]

    Michael D'Auzon works as a tuc tuc driver on the Champs - Élysées.

    "We don't call the celebrations Bastille Day. Its called La Fête National over here.

    French people complain a lot. They are very particular about things, but that's the way they are.

    A lot of people they talk about the ID cards. I don't have a problem with them.

    I can't say I'm a fan of the politicians, but who is? They are all the same no?

    For me the big issue is that like many of my friends I can't afford to live in Paris any more. It's getting very expensive. That's the big discussion in our circles. Do we leave Paris and live in the country where it's cheaper or do we stay here and get ripped of?

    I don't know.

    That said, I'm happy here. It's a great place. Eighty-four million people come to visit every year, so we should be happy."

    Daniel Bujor, statue
    Daniel Bujor [Barbara McCarthy /Al Jazeera]

    Daniel Bujor works as a statue outside the Eiffel Tower.

    "I work seven days a week earning between $40 and $100 per day.  I am originally from Romania, but I am here to work and earn money.

    I used to work in a kitchen but I wasn't making ends meet.

    There are many immigrants in France and more coming each day but there are not enough resources to help them.

    I think there is a lot of radicalism in France from both sides and it's disconcerting.  But, the government needs to be more hard-line when it comes to terrorism.

    Some things are cheap here but I can't afford to live in the city. I live on the outskirts of Paris and travel to work every day. Where I live its only $250 per month." 

    Monica Lafon, Master's student in environmental studies
    Monica Lafon [Barbara McCarthy/Al Jazeera]

    Monica Lafon is completing a Master's degree in environmental policies and will be involved in the United Nations Climate Change Conference, which takes place in Paris in November 2015.

    "We need a universal agreement on climate change.

    In the past there has been so much expectation followed by disappointment as global leaders failed to decide on an agenda. It’s very frustrating.

    People still don’t take environmental issues seriously and I don’t understand why. Scientists and politicians need to work together.

    In France, I want to see more people get involved in green policies. It would be great to see more green roofs and urban gardens in Paris.

    We also need a bigger investment in solar energy."

    Charlie Roben, entrepreneur
    Charlie Roben [Barbara McCarthy /Al Jazeera]

    Charlie Roben is an entrepreneur living in Paris.

    "I just started a new company where I offer bike tours to tourists who get to sit in my sidecar. We are doing very well.

    There are lots of tourists here at the moment, so it's a great time for us.

    We need to see more support from the government for people who are starting their own business. There is a lot of red tape. We should take a leaf out of the American book where entrepreneurs can flourish.

    Paris is a great city. It has its flaws, but so do many other places.

    I won't be in the city during the celebrations for independence though. I'll be out of town, like many other people."  

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera



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