As France heads into the 2022 presidential election, the fabric of a country that has at times been the envy of Europe is looking tattered. The sands of society are shifting on an almost daily basis, the ‘traditional’ French way of life appears to be on the way out. Things that used to define France appear to have gone: the welfare state is losing steam, industry and agriculture are both suffering.
The far-right claims that the country isn’t French enough and has become too multicultural - and that even debating the place of Islam has become a dangerous no-go zone. France, it seems, is going through “a crise d’identité”.
Crossroads France, created by Antoine Boyer, Sarah-Lou Lepers and Camille Kauffmann and hosted by Barney Spender, explores five different regions of France and five areas of French life to find out more about the country in the 21st century.
Episode 1 looks at the forgotten people of the “Empty Diagonal” where public services are dwindling while Episode 2 heads down south where heavy industry is declining but new industries are taking root. Episode 3 takes us to Paris to hear more about the far-right’s notion of ‘assimilation’ and the effect of the death in police hands of Adama Traore, the face behind France’s equivalent of the Black Lives Matter movement.
In Episode 4 we learn more about a row over Islam that went out of control at a university in Grenoble. The question of Islamophobia has become so awkward in France that it is barely possible to debate it without tempers becoming frayed.
And in Episode 5 we go west to see how climate change is affecting attitudes to farming and the countryside.
Stay tuned, episode 1, will be released on Monday, April 4.
An AFP Audio podcast