The French president says he is listening, but many people doubt they are being heard

On a windswept night in the northern French port of Cherbourg, Brigitte, a health insurance worker, stood up at a town hall meeting that she hoped might change the future of France.

“I hear a lot of people criticising the president’s wife, Brigitte Macron, for wearing designer trainers worth thousands of euros,” she said. “I understand she has to represent French designer brands. But let’s look at other presidential costs. Why doesn’t the president, Emmanuel Macron, entertain visiting heads of state more frugally? If he hosted state visits sitting on a bale of hay with a mug of cider, it would send a clear message to the rest of France on reducing unnecessary costs.”

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