I never intend this blog to be Political — that’s Political with a capital “P”, but there are some observations I want to make that just may sound Political. However, they are what I believe to be relatively bias free observations. But, buyer beware, I guess.
France is an interesting country. Europe is an interesting area. Each and every time we are here, we cannot help compare what we see here in France with what we see in the States. And, if it’s any comfort, we also compare places we travel to in the States with our home in Yellow Springs.
So here’s some of the things we see and think about.
France feels as if it is a prosperous country. Our recent trips to a largish village and two smallish cities confirm that impression. There are shops everywhere — clothing, housewares, appliances, books, plumbing supplies — you get it. Now we are in a relatively prosperous part of the country, which is visited by tourists from within France and from abroad, so that certainly needs to be factored in. But it is no Napa Valley.
And there are larger businesses on the outskirts of the cities — on our way to I’sle sur la Sorge a few days ago, we saw many light industrial complexes and distributors outside of Carpentras.
And we see doctors and dentists (and therapists) offices everywhere. So although there is a national health system, it must incorporate some form of private practice. I will make an effort to find out more.
And there are vineyards and wine makers everywhere. Millions (we actually think it is billions) of bottles of wine are made in this region — Cote du Rhone — alone. This is a gigantic industry. We are definitely going to find out more about how much wine is produced in this country.
And of course, food. Restaurants and cafes of all types and price ranges. We’ve eaten in three restaurants, each time for lunch, and all have been busy. Not full, but busy on a Fall weekday. Not bad . . . ?
Mirabel, the small village we are in, has some empty store fronts — as did Nyons yesterday. But this town has the internet, a very busy and wonderful pharmacy, a chocolatier (!), a place that does facials and two beauty parlors, plus a butcher, a small market, and a tabac. And Mirabel, although very pleasant, is definitely not on the “tourist” track.
The general feel is nothing like the somewhat “ghost town” effect of so many small towns in Ohio, where the main streets seem desolate.
And we have never seen the kind of poverty that we have seen in New Mexico, where there are many areas with trailers for houses and a general sense of dereliction and desolation.
Again, our observations. As with most social democracies in Europe, France is a combination of capitalism/market driven economy and socialism. We do hear people complain about the high taxes and the extensive bureaucracy, but, at least from what we observe, they are getting their moneys worth.