Paris: A Tale of Two Cities
Josh Mc & Agnes T
photojournalist living in Paris,
VO: The virus has taken
More than 26 000 lives in FRANCE, most of them, here in the capital.
VO: Under one of Europe’s strictest lockdowns, the streets have been empty… attractions deserted… Entire neighbourhoods shutdown.
VO: Even the infamous Yellow Vest protests were stopped
VO: This week
France begins to unwind its restrictions… But the damage has been done.
VO: Politicians say FRANCE has been United by the pandemic.
VO: Felipe WENT on a mission to find out what Parisians think about that.
VO: It’s the
end of April and 53-year-old Kiou, a waiter who
hasn’t worked for months, is still feeling the effects of lockdown in
Nanterre, a suburb of Paris
VO: Kiou came from Iran as a refugee in the 80’s.
VO: Of Nanterre’s 90,000 residents, he is just one of 20,000 migrants living here.
VO: Most OF THE SUBURB’S WORKING CLASS live in a small pocket of high-density housing.
VO: Kiou believes there’s a big difference between how Paris’ workers and the rich experience the virus.
KIOU: IV 80% of working people have an essential job, whether it is in the metro, cashiers in supermarkets, healthcare staff, etc, they earn the minimum wage and less, they are precarious jobs.
this crisis also reveals that those who are working not only don’t earn enough but they are also exposed to all the risks. We need to have a close look at who this Covid 19, this disease, killed,. The social class, we have to count afterward to see who died and
VO: Recent statistics on Paris’ corona virus deaths have revealed an alarming trend.
VO: Working class neighborhoods
recorded 128 percent more deaths than wealthy ones.
IS DUE TO HIGHER POPULATION DENSITY AND THE FACT ESSENTIAL WORKERS ARE MORE
EXPOSED TO THE VIRUS
KIOU: IV: Everybody knew that there were disparities in France but not to that extent. The covid crisis put on a big screen, if I could say, revealed that the disparities are getting deeper and they jump out
VO: In Nanterre, this divide can be seen in the one neighbourhood.
KIO: IV: This neighbourhood is a bit special there are a lot of poor people here but it is a chic neighbourhood, Paris suburb
VO: Nanterre is a rapidly gentrifying area – rich and poor are separated by a few streets, but have very different experiences of the virus
VO: In the poorer parts, shops are closed…
VO: Food queues are long…
ALTHOUGH HERE IN LATE APRIL - WHEN PARISIANS CAN ONLY LEAVE HOME WITH A PERMIT, THESE
STREETS ARE BUSTLING WITH WORKERS
BOOST SOUND ON SOT IF POSS
VO: In contrast, the wealthy parts of Nanterre and neighbouring Garrente are quiet.
VO: Here, people can work from home.
AND Many businesses are open, including ones you wouldn’t say are essential.
SOT: Kiou: the chocolatier is open”
FELIPE: IV: We hear a lot in the media that covid attacks all parts of society equally but in fact theoretically its possible socially it snot what happens
KIOU: IV: When we see disparities in certain suburbs compared to another its very noticeable. A lot of people prefer to be blind to the disparities
Volunteers pile food into boxes.
VO: Not everyone is turning a blind eye to those doing it
SOT: Are you packing the fruits and vegetables
SOT: AURIELE: This is Sarah, we are both co-chairwomen of the association Nanterre Solidaire.
SOT: SARAH: So yeah, we created the association in early 2020 with Aurélie. It started because we've been made aware of a family who was in need... So at first, it began as a uniting chain between neighbors, but then it grew a lot, we receive a huge amount of requests from families,
VO: Nanterre Solidare hope to
bridge the gap by, collecting food and donations from the suburbs more
fortunate and delivering them to those in need.
SOT: AURÉLIE: Well here it is.
SOT: AURÉLIE: How are you princesses ? Not too hard to stay at home ?
AURIEL: IV: The divide has
widened, and it totally shows. Especially with families who are confined in
extremely derelict housing, again, when five or six people are stuck in
studio apartments, with mould, cockroaches,
bedbugs, while others keep getting some income,
INT. TINY APARTMENT – DAY.
VO: One of Aurelie and Sarah’s regular visits is to a
single mum with 3 young children.
Her entire family has spent the last 8 weeks inside a tiny, one-bedroom apartment. WITH THE CHILDREN SLEEPING ON BUNKS IN THE KITCHEN
SOT: AURÉLIE: How are you today?
SOT: LADY: We're good thank you. It's kind.
SOT: AURÉLIE: Don't hesitate to send us a message. You also have my number
SOT: LADY: OK, thank you it's very nice.
SOT: SARAH: The three of them are (sleeping) here ?
SOT: AURÉLIE: The four of them (four yes, says the lady)
SOT: SARAH: You live with your three kids just here ? (yes, yes)
SOT: SARAH: Can we take a look at it ?
SOT: SARAH: Indeed, it is small. That's all the space you've got ?
SOT: KID: My room over there, it's still messy.
There is a difference between being confined in 20 metre square or 100 metre square…We all know that things are hard in Nanterre, there are people living beneath the poverty threshold and in very difficult situations. So, the confinement restrictions are not really respected here.
VO: During lockdown in Paris, the majority of fines have
been issued in poorer areas for leaving home without a permit.
Sot: You’re outside. That’s 135 euros.
Sot: That’s the last straw!
VO: For those living away from these areas, it’s a completely different story.
SCOTT THE MIDDLE CLASS
VO: A trip to the inner suburbs reveals
a very different Paris.
VO: Scott Hillier a filmmaker originally from Queensland -
is in lockdown with his French wife, their daughter and her boyfriend, in an apartment block in the city center.
SCOTT: IV: We live in about 19 square meters. Um, 95 of the balconies. it's a fabulous place to live in the 17th Arrondisment, I’m not far from Arc De Triomphe. It's a nice neighbourhood its not far from Sacre Couer, a little bit bourgeous, too bourgeous for me. I have no idea how they, let me live here
SOT: SCOTT’S DAUGHTER: this is the final touch of the chef
VO: By Paris standards. The family, are comfortably middle class, but like many in the city, they’ve had to adapt to eight weeks indoors.
SCOTT: IV You don't go, we don't go shopping in supermarkets, we don't do anything like that. We order in food. It arrives in the elevator. You leave it outside for six hours, you put it out in the balcony.
SCOTT: IV: Now there's many, many
other people. Other people all around the world who are doing far worse than
we are. We have food, we've got, you know, families around and whatever. We
can't complain. It's just a, it's just a, definitely a very interesting experience.
VO: Scott has lived in Paris for 20 years. He runs a local film festival and has seen the gap between rich and poor widen during his time here.
SCOTT: IV: The class divide in Paris is, is quite obvious because there's the inside Paris and then there's the outside Paris, the [inaudible] the suburbs, Paris, it's tiny - and as they've got a big world around it called the peripheric and everything inside is like a museum.
The pavements of Paris are cleaned and swept every single day. Wash down once a week. They spend a lot of money on keeping it, this sort of museum quality. Beautiful. Then when you get outside the peripheric, it's a different world the suburbs, the slums, the whatever, it's just mindblowing. Many, many Parisians just don't go there, they wouldn’t understand what its like.
SCOTT: IV: The economy is shattered.
SCOTT: IV: You’re rich, white, got a big house – you’re the same as a Senegalese migrant living in the suburbs right now, except there's 20 of them in the, in the apartment. Everybody's been affected by this.
SCOTT: IV: But to be honest, most French people are just
concerned about getting through the day, getting back to work. And I think
that this has been a great, great equalizer. But everybody's there. We now
have to work together to actually to actually beat this.
THE ISLAND EXODUS
VO: IN EARLY MARCH - JUST Ahead of the lockdown over one million Parisians fled the capital.
(Orange phone data)
VO: Those wealthy enough travelled to their second homes to see out quarantine in more comfort and space in places like this.
VO: The Island of Noirmoutier was one holiday destination to see a surge of people from Paris and neighboring cities like this dentist.
20.47 J/Rolling. So, what was the impact of covid, of the confinement, for you –
We live in Nantes and we came here to settle in our holiday home in Noirmoutiers, for two months, with our children.
J/ And why did you prefer to stay here, and not –
Woman/ Because we have a backyard, we have a bigger house and we weren’t in the CBD. More like in “vacation mode”.
as the holiday makers flooded in…. the locals feared the virus would spread.
01:30 – It's true that lots of people came to the island and it created a bit of fear... It created fear, because we didn't know, they came from places where there are lots of Covid 19 cases, and they're arriving in a place where there are not many, taht is a bit secluded, where population is less dense, so it generated fear. People went to the supermarkets... Many of them went to the supermarkets, to do their shopping to fill in their holiday homes to come and stay (here). 02:06
The locals like Herve felt the town did not have the food or medical resources to cope with this sudden population increase.
2:13 Hervé –in summer, the population increases tenfold on the island.
When you know that summer is coming, the town
is getting ready for it, doctors are coming over as reinforcement. But this
time, it happened so fast, we feared to be in what we call a « medical
desert », with hospitals being far away... In Challans, that's a half
hour drive... Plus the (local) population on the island is quite old and
Do you have an estimate of how many people came over ?
VO: In the lead up to
this week’s easing of lockdown measures - the wealthy started returning to
VO: And one group is preparing to get back in the game.
KIOU & THE YELLOW VESTS
VO: In November 2018 a group of rural delivery drivers protesting tax increases on fuel, sparked a movement that made headlines around the world.
VO: For 15 months, France’s yellow vest protesters took to the streets demanding fairer taxation, working and living conditions for the lower and middle class
VO: Named after the safety vests worn by French delivery drivers, every Saturday, huge rallies shut down cities around the country.
VO: Central Paris often became a battleground with brutal exchanges between protesters and police.
VO: For many Saturdays, Felipe captured the protests
VO: and in the
middle of it all was an unlikely face from Nanterre. Mild-mannered waiter Kiou
INT. KIOU’S APARTMENT – DAY.
KIOU: SOT: – Here’s my vest. Normally, every yellow vest has something written on the back. Here’s mine.
A man isn’t stupid or intelligent. He’s free or he isn’t.
VO: Kiou helped organize the mass rallies across Paris, and is one of the faithful
KIOU: SOT: To me, a yellow vest in
France today is someone who is part of an
apolitical social movement. But to be a yellow vest is also to be
constantly fighting against inequalities and for freedom.
16:00 Felipe - what do you think of people, Parisians, who think the yellow vest movement is dead?
16:07 Kiou - They predicted the movement would die. And we’re still here. We’ll show we’re still prepared to fight against inequalities and for freedom. Those people will keep seeing us in the streets for as long as it takes.
ACTUALITY + UPSOTS
16:24 Yellow vester – When the body’s in lockdown, the mind can be too.
VO: The Yellow Vests are far from done
VO: Less than two weeks before lockdown restrictions are set to be relaxed, organizers meet secretly to discuss ways to revive the protests
16:35 Yellow vester – There’s a text on our demands and a text on the coordination of the yellow vests.
VO: But some don’t want to wait until free
movement is allowed - they want to stage an outdoor rally on May 1st, French
VO: A traditional day for union
marches and strikes, Last year, May first saw particularly violent clashes in
18:12 french yellow vest sot not subbed?
VO: Now Kiou and the group are arguing whether defying lockdown rules and restarting their protests on May 1st is a good idea.
17:01 Yellow vester – That’s not what I wanted to do
17:11 Yellow vester – It will only happen if the measures taken to fight the epidemic have a positive outcome
17:27 Kiou – We’ve discussed it. But we couldn’t agree on one course of action.
Some have decided in every neighbourhood to put out placards on the balconies. Others
have decided to demonstrate in their neighbourhood by gathering at a roundabout.
18:02 Felipe – What will you do?
18:04 Kiou – I’d rather go to a roundabout to protest alongside other yellow vests. That small protest at a roundabout on Labour Day 2020 will be the first under lockdown and hopefully the last to be held that way.
VO: If the yellow vests do return to the streets, not everyone in Paris would give them a warm welcome.
VO: Prior to the pandemic - The mass protests hurt many French businesses including Scott’s
VO: Scott believes - with the instability and economic fallout from coronavirus - the nation won’t tolerate any more unrest
SCOTT: IV: But after this pandemic, they've lost people, they’ve lost a lot of people.
I don't think the French will have the patience for that.
The French public one has the patience for that.
Protestors take to the streets on labor
EXT. PARIS STREETS –DAY.
Across Paris, it’s Labor Day in lockdown.
These streets would normally be filled with workers marching for their rights but this year the government and unions have pleaded with workers to stay home and respect the lockdown.
But for many, this May Day is the most important yet.
LA REPUBLICA PROTEST
Nanterre’s Kiou hopes Yellow Vest Protestors
IT’S BEEN THE LOW PAID WORKERS KEEPING THE COUNTRY RUNNING DURING THE PANDEMIC AND THEY WANT THAT ACKNOWLEDGED
VO: But the police may not let them.
KIO: SOT: Wow!
00.23 K/ You see the policemen over there? Look at the number of policemen! Wow!
00.43 Journalist/ You see your comrades?
K/ For the moment, no.
VO: In the face of overwhelming police numbers, a small group of
union members begins a chant…
VO: The Police move quickly to shut them down.
Cop/ Check this gentleman, please.
Cop/ Sir, good morning, can you show your written statement.
04.06 K/ Not a problem.
Cop/ Sir, please proceed.
K/ I am just waiting for him to finish, so she can take the banner back and I’ll show you.
Cop/ No, put your banner under your arm. This is a police check, Sir, you’re going to show us-
Woman/ Wait, I’ll take the banner and then -
04.23 Cop/ Sir, I am talking to you Look at me when I speak to you.
K/ I looked at you and I replied to you.
Cop/ Ok. You were looking somewhere else.
VO: Then what seems like a peaceful protest takes a turn.
VO: Kiou is detained.
K/ This gentleman just gave orders, they will fine every protester and they’ll take us to the metro so we can go back home.
VO: The rally last less than 30mins… There are several arrests
and many fines. The protestors are furious…
EXT. LA MONTRIEUL PROTEST – DAY.
Kiou – So they’re waiting at the Montreuil town Hall, where a lot of police are waiting to the yellow vests to arrest them.
VO: Despite his heavy fine, Kiou heads
to a second protest in nearby Montriuel…
Woman/ They keep us from entering the square. We can’t access.
Man/ The riot squad i1 s everywhere, we almost got fined.
K/ There’s only police?
Man/ Well, there are other people like us, but it’s full of cops.
full of cops.
K/ I was told, City Hall - Over there is full of cops, that’s why we’re going -
Man/ There, it’s full of them too.
VO: Eventually Kiou converges with a
group near the city hall…
Chant/ State of emergency, police state. You won’t stop us from protesting.
Chant (K joins in)/ State of emergency, police state. You won’t stop us from protesting
VO: But the sight of yellow has some seeing red.
Cop off screen/ Prepare your written statement of circulation, your ID, and take of your yellow vest.
05.23 K/ In the state of emergency it doesn’t say that the yellow vest is forbidden.
Cop off screen/ Take off your yellow vest, Sir.
Cop off screen/ Show me your identification papers, please, Sir.
Woman/ Listen to what they tell you.
Woman off screen/ There’s no reason.
Woman/ I don’t know. You’d stay out of trouble.
K/ The law doesn’t say it. We listen to the law.
Woman off screen/ If someone asks me to get naked here, I’m not going to do it.
Woman/ All right.
K/ Law is freedom, M’am.
08.05 K/ Well, let’s go, then. We can go?
VO: For Kiou it’s time to call it a day.
For him, a fine of 335 euros is a small price to pay for his freedom of
Kiou – I think we'll keep going, even better and even more united, with more and more of us, in this struggle for freedom and equality... Especially with what just happened... shortage of supplies, for hospitals, for schools, and other economical and social issues that have just been exposed by this coronavirus crisis.
THE CHILD / THE END
VO: As lockdown measures start to unwind, Paris is coming back to life.
VO: Businesses can re-open with only restaurants and cafes remaining closed.
VO: Because of them, the city endures – and that knowledge is something that does seem to unite Paris.
NEXT WEEK ON DATELINE
NEXT WEEK ON DATELINE WE INVESTIGATE WHAT’S BEHIND BIRMINGHAM’S STAGGERING INCREASE IN KNIFE CRIME
AND UP NEXT …THE FEED