On nous avait sondés pour savoir avec quel personnage politique nous souhaitions passer nos vacances... Reste à savoir maintenant où ça se passe... Bobos, aristos, cathos, populo, Ségo, Sarko : pas tous dans le même bain !
Paris, le 7 août 2006,
The clubs and beaches around Saint Tropez are packed this week as France enters its deep summer torpor, but more than ever the thinking classes are shunning the Mediterranean in favour of cooler retreats.
Thanks to the well-off “bourgeois-bohemian” set, the Ile de Ré, off la Rochelle in the Atlantic, is the new height of chic while the Cote d’Azur is being abandoned to the nouveau riche and lower orders who come to watch them.
Sixty years since all French workers were given congés payés [paid leave], class and politics still dictate the holiday choices of the 67 per cent of citizens who take their summer breaks inside France, L’Express magazine found this week.
The Provence-Alpés-Cote d’Azur (PACA) region is much more popular with leftwing voters while conservatives flock to Brittany, according to a poll for L’Express. The Mediterranean coast of the Languedoc Roussillon, from La Grande Motte to the Spanish border, are the choice for working class and foreign grande vacanciers.
There are distinctions within the left-right breakdown. The PACA region includes inland Provence and the Vaucluse, home to the “gauche-caviar” set, the left-leaning politicians and writers who flocked there during the François Mitterrand presidency of the 1980s. The poll also confirmed that the chic left are moving across the Rhone into the hills of the Cevennes and the Ardeche, where second-home prices are lower than Provence.
Old money and the conservative upper orders have long favoured the more bracing climate and sporty ambiance of the Atlantic coast and Brittany to the Mediterranean with its suntan-oil and pizza. The Atlantic side is now more fashionable than ever.
The discreet charm of the Ile de Ré has sent property prices to Saint Trop’s levels as Parisian professionals have rushed to join cottage owners including Lionel Jospin, the former Socialist Prime Minister, Charles Aznavour, the singer, and Princess Caroline of Monaco.
“La Re-publique”, as France Soir dubbed the island this week, is rivalled in chic by other offshore Atlantic spots, such as Ile d’Yeu and Belle Ile-en-Mer, off Quiberon in south Brittany. The north Breton port of Perros-Guirec was rated France’s best beach resort last month by le Nouvel Observateur. The favourite news weekly of the Left Bank dismissed Saint Trop’ as “the capital of dosh and show-offs”.
There are exceptions to the northwestward trend. The old resorts of the Channel such as Le Touquet are fading and stretches of the Normandy coast around Deauville are being shunned by les gens bien [the educated classes] as Meccas for new money. “I would not be seen dead in Deauville any more than the Cote d’Azur” a former Socialist Minister told The Times.
The politicians’ lieux de villgiature [holiday spots] are closely tracked by the media. Jacques Chirac gave up his penchant for dubiously-financed trips a few years ago and now sticks to Fort Bregancon, the presidential retreat near Toulon.
Nicolas Sarkozy, the centre-right favourite to succeed him next year, holidays every year at the middle class Atlantic resort of Arcachon. Dominique de Villepin, the aristocratic Prime Minister, is, typically, at Dinard, part of the north Breton strip beloved of the old upper class.
But an untypical political message is coming from Ségolène Royal, the Socialist favourite, and François Hollande, her partner and party leader. They are spending the month at their holiday home at Mougins, near Cannes in the heart of the Cote d’Azur gold-belt.
Copyright 2006 Times Newspapers Ltd.