I'm back in Paris after going to the Joan of Arc Festival in Orléans. There was a medieval faire and lots of spiced meade and wandering bagpipers and silly costumes and cannon demonstrations and battle re-enactments and religious processions and horses and drums and armor and more Scots than one might expect. It turns out that something like a third of the soldiers defending Orléans during the siege were Scottish. They were making a huge deal about the Scot thing.
Unfortunately, Le Pen and other right wing types have though Joan of Arc would make a good symbol for them. She drove France's enemies out of France. Similarly, they argue, we should get rid of all the immigrants. However, Joan showed up with a bunch of Scots. She fought with them. Some of them died beside her. It's extremely likely that some of these Scots really liked France. Maybe they liked the wine. Maybe they liked the cheese. Maybe they met a local girl (or boy). Maybe they were injured and had a long convalescence and stayed after their comrades had gone on and became part of the local community and thus never went back to Scotland. My point being, Joan wasn't opposed to people coming to France. She was opposed to an armed foreign invasion. It's more than a little bit of a stretch to say that economic migrants are more like the English invaders than they are like the Scots who came to help out and may have stayed because of opportunities.
Parisians I talked to seemed concerned that the festival would have a strong reactionary contingent. There were a few people there who I suspect may have been such. But most seemed not to be. This morning, the mayor of Orléans made a long speech about Joan of Arc and her message today. Clearly, a modern Joan would be against the Precarity (read: CPE) and in favor of equitable development and protecting the environment. He said it a lot better than I just summarized, but the point is that there was an effort being made to claim Joan on the left and to remind people of her international friends and comrades at arms. Huzzah.
Anyway, I spent the whole weekend eating. Bread made of nothing but honey, flour and spices. Medieval "faggot" bread (cooked over wood!). Sheep's cheese. Fermented honey beverage. French food galore. I must now go offline and eat more faggot bread and sheep's cheese.