Between inflation and shortages, the crisis puts the French “on the nerves”

Scents of sauerkraut, scents of roses, aromas of brie. Under the glass roof of the Gaillardon market in Melun, there is a great traffic jam for the senses. But among the food stalls, there is no rush. This Wednesday, October 19 morning, this high place of food trades in Seine-et-Marne is very calm. Arms crossed, Sylvie, the boss of the Bernardon butcher’s shop, is waiting for the customer. “They don’t make big purchases anymore, with products that they used to freeze. They take it day by day. »

The agglomeration was very mobilized during the movement of the yellow vests of 2018. About fifty kilometers from the capital, thirty minutes by train when it is direct, it is one of those cities which, on the borders of the great crown, have welcomed in recent decades of populations with low purchasing power.

“From the 20th of the month, it buys less”, notes Thierry, at the café de la halle. His menu went from €13.30 to €15, the espresso took ten cents. Since the spring, inflation and the energy crisis have fueled conversations. “I can’t sell low-end products so I’m cutting back on margins”testifies Stéphane the primeur, who dreads the months to come, when the butcher is worried about the end of year celebrations.

In this gloomy context, the merchants of Gaillardon took another hit on the head this fall, the closure of the car park for security reasons. “People come from all the surrounding villages. Without the possibility of parking, it is no longer possible”, sighs Sylvie. And as a misfortune never comes alone, the blocking of refineries came to complicate the life of these early risers. “Usually, I am at Rungis at 4 a.m.explains Stephane. To fill up with diesel, I had to put the alarm clock forward an hour. » It’s more fatigue and stress, say all the professionals, even if none was forced to take a break for lack of fuel.

Anguish, stronger than anger

How will an already naturally pessimistic people react to so much bad news? During the demonstration against the high cost of living, Sunday, October 16, the leader of rebellious France, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, announced a new Popular Front. “Everything goes down the drain. Logic dictates that all struggles coalesce.he prophesied.

At the Melun market, we are not there yet. “People are lost, they don’t know what to expect”, believes Thierry, who perceives more anguish than anger. The evocation of the blocking of refineries or the strike day of the day before respond, as you choose, to eyes raised to the sky or frowning. “When we hear about a 6% increase or a €6,000 bonus, we say to ourselves that we don’t live in the same world”assures Stéphane, aware that his income will drop this year.

Weariness after the failure of the yellow vests

The Gaillardon market will not be an outpost of social uprising. But don’t stress too much about collecting very dark oracles. This trader says he participated in 33 demonstrations of yellow vests. “It was useless, it won’t start again. And if so, I will not participate. » The 35-year-old ensures the strings are pulled ” from the top “ and puts all the decision-makers in the same bag, from the President of the Republic to the Secretary General of the CGT. The merchant is allusive, rarely finishing his sentences, except to conclude: “It will end up blowing up, the whole system is going off the rails. »

Seated in the cafe, José swallows his dish of the day, palette-lentils. In his sixties, he works in motorsport and euphemizes when he says that since the Covid “times are tough”. He also resents the leaders. “Sarkozy, Holland, Macron. They all promised, and nothing works out. I don’t have the solution but I didn’t get elected. » Following him, nothing goes in the right direction. “The leaders say that the price of electricity is linked to that of gas. But they are the ones who signed the European treaties! » José judges the coming to power of Marine Le Pen ” inevitable “. He takes the example of Italy, Sweden… and goes on to the drama of little Lola murdered by a woman without papers. He never voted. Born in France, he retained his parents’ Spanish nationality.

At 1:30 p.m., traders pack up. We climb the avenue de Meaux to the small Total station which reopened the day before, after several days of empty tanks. A liter of diesel is €1.85, 15 cents less than at the supermarket on the other side of the ring road. In this Île-de-France where cities, peri-urban and rural areas are intertwined, the car is essential for most inhabitants. The line of vehicles stretches for about fifty meters.

“I had to apply for social assistance at my work”

Among the motorists, Aurélie, 41, with in her cozy Léo, six months old, the last of a family of 5 children. The official works 80% as an educational adviser at the University of Marne-la-Vallée, in the north of the department. 92 km round trip. Luckily, she filled up just before the blockages. “With a little telework, I held out until then”she says at the wheel of her sedan, now on the reserve.

The household saw the monthly fuel budget go up to €300 for their two cars. The average price of the weekly caddy has increased by 20%. “Before the summer, I had to apply for social assistance at my job and got vouchers. I will have to start over. » Aurélie is angry with Emmanuel Macron for having cut social benefits during his first five-year term. Without overwhelming either the rulers or this famous system. Without the allowances, she would spend much more on her nanny than her current €120 of remaining costs. “Colleagues went on strike this week, I didn’t want to. With the war, the crises, this is not the time. »

The young woman defines herself as “brave”a trait she inherited from her mother. “She left for work at 5 a.m. in Paris, returned at 7 p.m., she raised my sister and me like that. » Of course, does she recognize the shortages on the shelves, the skyrocketing prices, all that “puts on the nerves”. But Aurélie is determined to ” keep calm “, and no longer turn on the news channels continuously. Too much angst.


Melun, former stronghold of yellow vests

According to INSEE, in 2019, the prefecture of Seine-et-Marne had 40,000 inhabitants in Melun, and unemployment (16.6%) and poverty (25%) rates well above national averages (10.6% and 14.6% respectively).

In 2018, Melun was a cradle of yellow vests. The driver Éric Drouet, figure of the movement, lives in Melun. And the petition against the increase in fuel taxes, at the origin of the protest, was launched by Priscillia Ludosky, a resident of the neighboring town of Savigny-le-Temple.

In the presidential election, Melun placed Jean-Luc Mélenchon well ahead of the first round, then the candidate of the Nupes in the legislative elections. Each time with an abstention rate well above the national average.

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