It’s a book tour, mais pas comme des autres. Last night, Eric Zemmour, rising star of the French right and undeclared candidate for the presidency, rocked up in Béziers to promote La France n’a pas dit son dernier mot (France hasn’t yet had its final say), his book which has sold 250,000 copies in a month. A political campaign rally? Perish the thought.
I got there early and spent an hour talking to dozens of Zemmour’s fans, lining up to enter the hall. Many had come hundreds of kilometers. There were scores of students. All were disillusioned with Marine Le Pen. Many admitted they’d previously voted for Nicolas Sarkozy. This was not a traditional National Front crowd in their blue smocks, driving those battered Renault vans that look like garden sheds on wheels. The car park was filled with Audis, BMWs, top-line Peugeots and a Jaguar or two. The crowd was well-spoken and smartly dressed.
The Zinga Zanga conference hall was filled to the rafters and hundreds more stood outside as Zemmour took the stage, an hour late, to thunderous applause and chants of ‘Zemmour président.’ The night before, he’d been in Nîmes where he’d had an equally supercharged reaction. Versailles is next, to be followed by Rouen, Caen, Rennes and Nantes. He spoke fluently for 25 minutes and took questions for another 25 minutes.
Afterwards he spent an hour signing copies of his book and met scores of journalists. I grabbed just a moment with him and asked him how he viewed the threats of Macron’s government to cut off electricity supplies to Britain in retaliation for the squabble over post-Brexit fishing rights.