Let Them Eat on Fancy Plates: Emmanuel Macron’s New China

PARIS — The French president’s fondness for the gilt-edged points of his job — the flamboyant backdrops in chateaus, his big makeup bills, the proximity to the rich — is now not a secret to his countrymen.

Emmanuel Macron dislikes being known as “president of the rich,” however of all of the labels affixed to him, it’s the one he can’t shake.

A dust-up over the price of the brand new presidential dinner service is unlikely to assist.

Like presidents earlier than him, Mr. Macron is ordering his 1,200 plates from a porcelain manufacturing unit in Sèvres that’s closely sponsored by the state and has equipped France’s rulers for the reason that 18th century.

At a second when Mr. Macron was seen complaining in a government video that French welfare spending prices “a truckload of cash,” these fancy new plates from the Manufacture de Sèvres have brought on a small ruckus.

This is not going to be not the plain white china to be discovered at Ikea. Each plate requires “at least five hours of work — it’s all made by hand” by state-paid artisans, Romane Sarfati, the manufacturing unit’s director-general, stated in an interview Thursday. The design is predicated on drawings of the Élysée Palace, the seat of the French presidency, and each Élysée dinner visitor will sit all the way down to an individualized plate.

The ministry of tradition is paying $58,000 to the profitable artists. But that doesn’t cowl the price of the plates themselves.

“There’s no number because you can’t calculate it as though it were a business,” Ms. Sarfati stated.

That hasn’t stopped a number of the French press from gleefully speculating, led by Le Canard Enchaîné, the ever-impertinent satirical weekly. It got here up with a complete of almost $600,000.

Faux controversy, stated the Élysée. It stated that there was nothing out of the atypical concerning the expenditure, and that it could not inflate state budgets — a delicate level for Mr. Macron, with Brussels trying over his shoulder on a regular basis.

For Sèvres, “the subsidy remains the same: four million euros,” a spokesman for the president stated Thursday. “The order doesn’t represent any additional cost,” he stated.

Ms. Sarfati was considerably much less dismissive.

“One can understand why the French might be a little astonished, at a moment of budgetary constraints, that the president would make such an order from Sèvres,” she stated. “But you’ve got to understand what’s at stake. He represents France and the French. At dinners of state he must be in a position to represent France, and the French tradition of art de vivre. And since the 18th century Sèvres, has been its incarnation.”

The political prices of the good plate controversy are unlikely to be excessive. Attention within the press has been muted.

A majority of voters on the left already mistrust Mr. Macron for his market-oriented reforms, that are geared toward making a dent in France’s near-permanent 10-percent unemployment price.

But the president has all however received his monthslong battle with the nation’s rail unions — Parliament handed his large trains initiative this week — and his majority within the National Assembly continues to be obedient. As a train strike drags on, public assist for it has plummeted.

More severe for the French president are the growing doubts of heavyweight economists who signed on early to his maverick motion, and at the moment are placing far between themselves and him. Three of them despatched a reproachful “secret” memo to the Élysée, printed final weekend in Le Monde.

The economists have been fearful, they stated, about “the image of an executive power that is indifferent to social issues.”

They additionally stated that the “liberating ambitions” of the president’s 2017 marketing campaign platform, which burdened American-style equality of alternative, not end result, “are now lost on a growing number of our fellow citizens, including some of the most fervent supporters of 2017.”


An earlier model of this text misspelled the surname of the Sèvres manufacturing unit’s director-general in some references. She is Romane Sarfati, not Serfaty.

A model of this text seems in print on , on Page A5 of the New York version with the headline: Latest Row In France Is Over China For President. Order Reprints | Today’s Paper | Subscribe

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