Let Them Eat Pain Au Chocolat: French Presidential Candidate Triggers Controversy Over The Price of Pastries

festival_automobile_international_2015_-_photocall_-_026_cropped_2180px-marie_antoinette_adult4As our presidential campaign de-evolves into petty name calling and calls for prosecution, the French are having a quintessentially French scandal of their own. French presidential hopeful Jean-François Copé has found himself in deep fondue after admitting that he did not know the price of pain au chocolat and then radically understated the price. Sacre Bleu. The French have not been so incensed since “The Terrors” and many have denounced Copé as an out-of-touch elitist.

The controversy is reminiscent of George Bush’s ignorance of a supermarket’s UPC scanner.

Copé responded “I have no idea but … I think it must be around 10 or 15 centimes.” The pastries commonly sell for £1.15 and £2.10.

The leading member of France’s rightwing Les Républicains tried a bit of self-deprecating spin in response to the hue and cry: “I confess to being very careful about my figure … so to tell you the truth I haven’t eaten ‘chocolatines’ for a long time!” It didn’t help. French comedian Rémi Gaillard replied: “You’d be better confessing that you don’t give a damn about the real lives of French people.” Worse yet, Copé is a former budget minister who once taught economy and local finances at the renowned Sciences Po university in Paris.

Analogies have been made to Marie Antoinette, though that seems hardly fair. There is actually little evidence that Marie Antoinette actually declared “Let them eat cake” or “Qu’ils mangent de la brioche.” Many historians trace the legend to Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s Confessions. Yet, this autobiography was written in 1765, when Marie Antoinette was nine years of age. It was not published until 1782. The reference came in a passage where Rousseau recounted how he entered a bread store to acquire bread to go with some stolen wine. He then recollected the words of a “great princess: Enfin je me rappelai le pis-aller d’une grande princesse à qui l’on disait que les paysans n’avaient pas de pain, et qui répondit : Qu’ils mangent de la brioche.” He never names Marie Antoinette.

Putting his historical quibble aside, Copé is no Marie Antoinette. He was not declaring that the French should sustain themselves on pain au chocolat. Rather he simply doesn’t buy the pastry and did not know its current price.

Yet, at this point, I would love a debate over a brioche. How about you?

11 thoughts on “Let Them Eat Pain Au Chocolat: French Presidential Candidate Triggers Controversy Over The Price of Pastries

  1. I believe it was George Bush, Sr. who was asked the price of a gallon of milk during a Town Hall and was roundly criticized as “out of touch” because he didn’t know.

  2. It will all blow over in a couple of days. I would not have know the price. My wife does all the grocery shopping so you have to ask her. And she does not buy them.

  3. Well, there’s another politician who wants to tell everyone else how to live when he, himself, is absolutely clueless! I would even dare to say that he is an idiot. Is there anything for sale these days that costs 15 cents? A real pain au chocolat is a work of art and is worth every one of those 210 euro cents.

  4. Also, GHW Bush didn’t know about grocery checkout scanners.

    I’m not sure, at the time of that election, how many husbands knew the price of milk or how to use the scanner…grocery shopping was not a husbandly duty.

    How many guys (especially husbands) on this thread remember their first experience with grocery self-checkout? Gals had it wired. Humbling it was…had to do that un-manly thing and ask for directions for the fruit and veggies.

    I was oh so proud of the 1st Bush when he decreed that a certain vegetable was never to be served on Air Force 1. Now that was a MAN. It was, after all, his plane, not Barbara’s.

    So, Bush gets defeated and a philanderer is elected.
    Imagine if GHW got caught with an intern in the Oval Office. Somehow I think GHW would have been speaking with a much higher voice register and there would not be any need for the tailor to ask if he dressed to the right or the left.

  5. Politicians of all stripes and continents are elitists, out of touch w/ regular people. That’s why there is an ongoing revolution. I think the elitists are starting to understand it. I can smell the sweat. It smells like, “boiled cabbage, urine and farts.”

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