The Tennessee of France

Have you seen the videos of a mob storming into restaurants in DC and yelling in the faces of diners, demanding they raise their fists in solidarity with The Cause? Another reason not to eat out, along with wearing masks between courses and sitting outside in the smoke.

The videos reminded me of an incident in Montpellier back in 2016. I crashed the tandem on some slippery tram tracks that day, but thanks to the daily prayer candles we were unhurt. We even did the planned ride without any problems.

Later, as we left our hotel to go to lunch, we observed a large demonstration blocking a main street, with protesters chanting and waving large red flags. They appeared headed for the Plais du Justice and since our lunch spot was on a quiet square well away from the action we promptly forgot about it.

Here is the difference between demonstrators in the South of France and DC: as we sipped our rosé and contemplated dessert and coffee options, we noticed a couple of red flags propped against a table a few yards away. It seems no matter how agitated the seekers of social justice are in France, their priorities still  include stopping for a two-hour lunch, instead of harassing and threatening others doing the same.

I know some violent demonstrations occur in France. But the police do not allow them to go on for long. Certainly not for weeks, like in Portland. And le Sud is Marie le Pen country: sort of the Tennessee of France, politically. But with much better food. So while there are demonstrations all the time, it is almost inconceivable that diners enjoying savory crepes with un demi rosé at a sidewalk café would have to endure threats and have flags waved in their faces. More likely the demonstrators would be sitting at an adjacent table.

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