Yves Saint Laurent died this past Sunday, June 2, 2008. His funeral brought out hundreds on Rue St. Honore this Thursday afternoon. Even though the St. Roch service was ‘by invitation only’, many more gathered in front of the church services to watch the mass on a huge TV screen.
Here are some photos of the scene outside the church. If you’re wondering about the armed military, they appeared to be an escort for visiting dignitaries from the Middle East. The two princes exited discreetly from one of the church’s side entrances. Those were the only VIPS I saw. The rest exited where they’d be sure to be photographed by the media. (If anyone really doesn’t want to be photographed by the media, it’s easy enough to find a side exit).
Meanwhile, just down the street, on the opposite side of Place Vendome, the CGT labor union was staging a protest. Although there was a police presence, the attitude was relatively relaxed. Nevertheless, it’s more and more common to hear French citizens complaining about the difficulties they’re having, trying to make ends meet. The truckers union staged strikes throughout France during the week, but transportation within Paris (such as the Metro) remains active.
One cannot help but think that along with Yves Saint Laurent, so too dies an era of optimism. Not only has France’s president failed to convince those that didn’t vote for him that he may actually help improve the standard of living, but he has unfortunately alienated many who did vote for him. The resounding complaint is that he is ‘too people’.
So that is the climate nowadays in Paris. I spoke to a woman who actually was a parishioner at the St. Roch church. Of course she wasn’t able to enter the church during the services, but she didn’t complain. St. Roch church is noted as the spot where Napoleon mowed down Royalist insurgents (right on the front steps of the church).
As prices continue to rise at the grocery store and the gas pump, don’t be surprised if Parisians you encounter in hotels and restaurants are not smiling.