Sunday 25 February 2018

Doing it French style: not much fun, actually

Aoife Drew on how our French neighbours are struggling with morosity but it doesn't have to be that way

Aoife Drew

Aoife Drew

This summer, some Irish people will head off to France for a holiday. As they enjoy the lifestyle and experience the good infrastructure, food and wine, they may be forgiven for thinking the grass is greener there. France has great public transport, healthcare and schools. But does that make the French happier? Non.

To look at Ireland's economic situation, an outsider could be forgiven for surmising that morale must be low. Yet, it appears we are among the most carefree nations in Europe, according to a recent survey. In sharp contrast, our French neighbours are more pessimistic than Iraqis.

It's not just a mild case of the blues. "Liberte, egalite, morosite," read a recent Le Monde headline. People are angry and tired with the government's inaction to remedy France's disastrous economic position. There is no denying there's a lot to be annoyed about. High taxes, unemployment, an indecisive president, and the troubling rise of the far right means people are glum. As the Le Monde article suggests, the French have lost "the capacity to contemplate tomorrows that sing".

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