Popular Front exhibition at Paris Hotel de Ville

21 May 2016
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I won’t teach you anything here but there is often rain between two sunny spells! Paris is no exception and unfortunately it doesn’t boast a micro climate.
The weather being a bit unstable at the moment, and rather than having to dodge through the rain, here’s a smart idea to find shelter if you happen to near the islands and historic center or if you’ve just visited Notre Dame and don’t know where to follow on.
Why don’t you head towards the Hotel de Ville (Paris main city Hall), there’s a free exhibition about the Popular Front there that’s worth mentionning.

The factories are occupied, general strikes, mass demonstrations are deployed throughout France and finally the emergence of a keystone for social rights voted through the Matignon agreements. Favourable labor and domestic laws are passed, unions are strengthened. These components are part of the heritage of the “Popular Front” (coalition of left wing movements which included radical socialists, the SFIO and also the communist party). Léon Blum, the socialist leader, was heading the SFIO, the French Section of the Workers’ International. He became the first Socialist Prime Minister of France.
Over a short period of one year starting in June 1936, by winning the legislative elections, Léon Blum’s “popular front” triggers a series of social reforms changing the lives of millions of French individuals. Two weeks paid leave (that’s the start of cycling holidays or call it tourism!! Man and wife exploring beyond the boundaries of their small village) , the 40 hour week, the right to strike and salary increases. All of this happened in a highly charged atmosphere, a time marking the end of the 1930’s, devastated by a persistent great depression and high inflation and the all too famous rise of facism. That was almost a century ago, 80 years ago to be exact.
So what’s left of it? Photos that bear testimony, immortalising the enthusiasm and fervour of the working class. To travel back into time and experience this jubilant atmosphere, the “Hôtel de Ville” is dedicating a photo exhibition up until the July 23rd, from 10am to 5:30pm, Monday to Saturday. Go there if you want to learn about French history! Forget Saturdays, obviously less crowded on week days of course – free entry. Metro Hôtel de Ville, 5 rue Lobau in the 4th.

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