That attitude has contributed to a subliminal racism among older residents and an inclination for the two communities to keep separate. The ethnic Arabs congregate in one café; the Gallic Frenchmen in another. The ethnic Arabs gather in the shade of trees around the central town square on hot afternoons; the Gallic Frenchmen retreat indoors. When the mayor walks the streets, he reaches out to shake the hands of the old-timers but leaves the ethnic Arabs alone.Thus reports Elaine Sciolino in her NYT article entitled French Farm Town Is Fertile Ground for National Front (which the IHT has — diplomatically — reentitled A French town fears the loss of its soul).
Every Bastille Day, the town celebrates the arts and crafts of daily life a century ago. Last July 14, Courtois ran an old-fashioned open-air café. A retired pharmacist ground potions. A baker made big loaves in a communal oven. Residents dressed in period costume sang old French country songs. Children rode ponies. The ethnic Arabs stayed home.