An eyewitness account from Bordeaux, where our correspondent Jay Taylor saw spontaneous marches through the streets after Chirac's speech last night.
On friday afternoon there were small groups of students roaming around town with loud hailers, handing out flyers asking people to attend the demonstration on Tuesday the 4th. Holding up placards at intersections asking people to hoot if they are against the CPE and CNE. Motorists were hooting in support of the students and you get the impression that most people are aware of what is going on and are in support of the movement against the CPE and CNE.
I watched Chirac's speech on TV tonight and the following coverage, and afterwards I had the sense that it that wasn't going to be be accepted so I headed up to the Place de la Victorie to see what was happening.
As I was waiting for a bus at the station, I saw a groupement [group] of CRS being mobilised and preparing to deploy, so I already knew that things were happening and that the cops were going to be working overtime. I got to the Place about 45 minutes after the speech and there was already a crowd gathering, not just students but everyone. The reaction on the Place to Chirac's speech was that it was not what they wanted to hear.
That led to a sponateous march through the city. Led by the students but everyone was there. The youngest person I saw there was about 4 years old, the oldest over 70 and more than one person in a wheelchair.For an impromtu demonstration it was impressive. "Un manif de niut?" (a night demo?) as someone next to me said.
The biggest impression that I have though, was the rally cry: "Chirac en prison!" (Chirac in jail) - of all the slogans and chants that was the strongest.
The march wove its way through the city in an uncoordinated way, and one had the sense that it was led by an impromtu student leadership, but the march made its point and was supported by people waving from windows. We made our way to the Mairie where we were confronted by the CRS. A thin blue line that had to rush in reinforcements. The march continued afterwards, but eventually I found myself back at the Place de la Victorie where there were stiil small groups of people gathered.
This is not Paris and you are not going to see it on TV but the anger on the streets of Bordeaux was palpable tonight.
More from Jay can be read at jayzerz.blogspot.com