It was the summer of 2012. France had just gotten rid of the agitated Sarkozy and was heaving a sigh of relief. It had replaced the Bling Bling of Sarkozy, his Rolexes, and his wives, by the self declared Mr. Normal.
We were in Paris, the city that was our home for twelve years, during Mitterrand's two Septennats. We had voted for Hollande and were happy to see a socialist return to power.
This one summer evening, we were going to visit friends and head out for dinner with them. We were strolling along Faubourg St Honoré when we noticed a small crowd facing the gate of the Élysées palace. Two guys were standing in front of the crowd with their motorcycles and looking at the gate. We talked to the crowd, who were mainly tourists, some of them Spanish, and understood they were waiting to see Hollande's motorcade leave the Élysée. The two guys were part of the presidential motorcade. They were friendly and weren't bothered by our presence. I wanted to leave. I thought waiting indefinitely to get a glimpse of Hollande in his car wasn't worth it. But my husband wanted to wait. He is a long time admirer of Mitterrand and socialist supporter.
We didn't wait long. The main gate opened. The presidential motorcade started its slow move toward the exit. It stopped at the open gate, near the street. Hollande left his car and came to see us. I snapped a picture of him coming toward us with my cellphone.
He shook all the hands, asked where we were coming from, when we told him from Quebec, he told us something about incoming provincial elections, it turned out he was in the know, we had extraordinary elections and Parti Quebecois Pauline Marois booted long time Liberal PM Jean Charest from power, barely 2 months after we spoke to Hollande.
Hollande was glowing in the normality of the encounter. His girlfriend of the time, Valérie Trierweiller, was in the presidential car, she lowered the window and waived at us, smiling.
Hollande was a truly normal president for a country in political turmoil, looking to preserve its uniqueness, with the pressures of the global finance and its sharks. Hollande, among other things in France, went in a bite of one of these sharks whom he kept too close to the Élysée.
Au revoir monsieur Normal. After you, nothing will be normal at the Élysée and in France's halls of power.