I can hardly believe this. But here I am with my whole family in the French Alps for a skiing vacation at the Ski Loge Broski in Belleville near San Martin.
I used to be a skier. However, after nearly 50 years away from the slopes, I’m thinking it wouldn’t be a good idea for me to resume here at the age of 78. So, if anything, I’ll confine my skiing activity to the cross-country variety.
We arrived in France last Saturday. Our eldest son, who is now living in Paris, hosted us overnight in a very comfortable three-bedroom apartment.
One of the reasons I’m especially happy to be in France is that it’s currently the center of what may well be a truly revolutionary movement not only in France, but across Europe. I’m referring to the Gilet Jaune (yellow vest) protesters who have been demonstrating on weekends here for the past month or so.
In the course of our drive to Belleville, we encountered some of them who had occupied a toll station. The waved us through the facility without making us stop to pay. Anyone can see how that contributes to winning hearts and minds.
In my understanding, the Yellow Vests are very like the OccupyMovement we experienced in the United States beginning in 2011. Like the Occupiers, the umbrella issue of the Gilet Jaunes is what (outside the United States) is called “neo-liberalism.” That’s the lionization of deregulated free-market capitalism which benefits the 1% while demanding austerity from the rest of us.
It’s that austerity in the form of low wages, raised taxes on gasoline and cut-backs in social programs that has angered Europeans, most notably in France, Spain, Greece, and Italy – not to mention the Brexit advocates across the pond. People here are now talking about “Frexit.” If that occurs, it will signal the end of the European Union.
When we return to Paris next weekend, while others in my family will be visiting museums, I plan to attend the protests scheduled in the city center. To that end, I’ve been brushing up on my French. In any case, I’m sure I’ll be able to get along quite well in English.
Everyone in the country, I’m finding, has an opinion on the Gilet Jaune movement and is quite willing to share thoughts on the topic.
I’ll report here on what I find.
In the meantime, having arrived here only late last night, I’m off to explore the environs here in Belleville.
More later . . .