Gilets jaunes

Must Paris reinvent itself?

In this odd book, the Financial Times columnist Simon Kuper narrates his experience as an expatriate ‘uptight northern European’ living in Paris with his family. His American wife, Pamela Duckerman, also a journalist, is the author of Bringing Up Bébé, a culture-shock memoir about having children in Paris and discovering French child-rearing ways, which are often radically at odds with American ideas and habits. Impossible City touches on some of the same territory (Kuper’s French acculturation through his children’s schooling and socialising), but it aims at a more comprehensive portrayal of rapidly evolving 21st-century Paris, warts and all; or, as he puts it, in a phrase that some may find

Graham Robb deserves to be a French national treasure

This is a ceaselessly interesting, knowledgeable and evocative book about France over thousands of years. Is it at all likely to have been produced by a French writer? Though it’s about some deeply serious subjects, it’s very amusing; it makes no attempt to constrain itself within an overarching theoretical framework; it would be impossible to extract from it a grand statement beginning ‘The French are all…’; it is pragmatic, full of enterprising scholarly initiative and a gift for observation without intruding. Most strikingly, it’s a book about France in which the author has profitably spent a good deal of time outside Paris. Perhaps my experience of French students of their

Yellow fever

I met a friend for lunch in Paris last Sunday. He and his wife had come up from the countryside for a weekend’s shopping. As we sat down, their nerves were still frayed from the previous day. It was, they told me, the most terrifying few hours of their lives. Trapped between the rioters and the police, they retreated to their hotel, where staff instructed them to stay in their room. The mob soon arrived and against a background noise of helicopters, police sirens, breaking glass and detonations, they tried unsuccessfully to force their way inside the hotel while singing an ode to the Révolution. It has been said that

Jonathan Miller

Let them buy Teslas! How Macron provoked an uprising

Emmanuel Macron is supposed to be the cleverest man in France but he has painted himself so completely into a corner that there’s no way out. Whether the gilets jaunes insurrection achieves its objectives or not, it has become his nemesis. As the yellow wave roils France, Macron is a diminished figure after a crunching fall to earth. Bastion of anti-populism, he has united 70 per cent of France against him. He did self-identify as Jupiter. Now, perhaps, he is looking like a sickly lame duck, albeit one for whom the word hauteur might have been invented. Instead of the confident leader, lecturing and preening on the global stage, he