“We live, but we’ve got to be careful. We can’t go to the restaurant. A ll the little pleasures of life are gone,” Mr. Depourtoux said. His parents, after a lifetime of work, were reduced to penury, his father in a nursing home and his mother forced to accept meals from charity.
She fills the freezer with deep-discount frozen food from the hard discounter Lidl. They wait to get paid to fill up the car and to do the shopping.
“We just don’t make it to the end of the month,” said Elodie Marton, a mother of four who had joined the protesters at the demonstration outside town. “I’ve got 10 euros left,” she said, as a dozen others tried to get themselves warm around an iron-barrel fire.
“Luckily we’ve got some animals at the house” — chickens, ducks — “and we keep them for the end of the month,” she said. “It sounds brutal, but my priority is the children,” she said. “We’re fed up and we’re angry!’ shouted her husband, Thomas Schwint, a cement hauler on a temporary 1,200-euro contract.
To a man and woman the Guéret protesters expressed fury at the government, and determination to keep going.
“Their response has poisoned the situation even more,” said Mr. Depourtroux. “The citizens have asked for lower taxes, and they’re saying, ‘Ecology,’” he said in a reference to Mr. Macron’s speech of last week where he outlined France’s plans to transition to fossil-based fuels.
At the roundabout, Laurent Aufrere, a truck driver, was deciding which of that day’s meals to skip.
“If I stop rolling, I die. This is not nothing,” Mr. Aufrere said. “What’s happening right now is a citizen uprising.”
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