Inside Le Pen Territory as France Votes in a Runoff Election


“If women are wearing them just for their religion, OK,” Mr. Gérard said, “but I think in general it’s a provocation.”

Maryvonne Duché, another firm supporter of Ms. Le Pen, was seated at a table close by. She started work at 14 as a sales clerk, before spending 34 years on the production line at a nearby Philips electronics factory, which closed 12 years ago.

“Apart from two pregnancies, I worked nonstop from age 14 to 60, and now I have a pension of 1,160 euros a month,” she said — or about $1,250. “It’s pathetic, with almost half going in rent, but Macron doesn’t care.”

And Ms. Le Pen? “I don’t love her, but I will vote for her to get rid of Macron.”

The view of Mr. Macron in this town was of near-universal disdain: a man with no respect for French people, removed from reality, so cerebral he has no idea of “real life,” insensitive to the everyday problems of many people, from a class that has “never changed a kid’s diaper,” in Mr. Gérard’s words.

Ms. Le Pen, by contrast, is seen as someone who will protect people from the disruptive onslaught of the modern world.

France, like other Western societies including the United States, has fractured, with a liberal, global and metropolitan elite parting company from what the French call “the periphery” — blighted urban and remote rural areas that feel left behind and often invisible.



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