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[Interview] Brigitte Ayrault, “wife of”, and much more – Debates


Your book “A Woman’s Way” speaks of you but also and above all of your activist, political and family life alongside Jean-Marc Ayrault. Why leave your reserve today?

This book was dictated by an event that could have been dramatic. I had a stroke, on the plane that took me to Bangkok, for the king’s cremation, in November 2017. During the three days of intensive care that followed, I sufficiently felt the fragility of life to feel the need to leave a trace of my atypical journey.

You put a lot of emphasis on your “transclass” journey. In the end, was that a handicap or an advantage?

This has been a very heavy problem to bear, for a good part of my life. With each fundamental choice, I asked myself the question of my legitimacy. I come from extremely modest origins, my father was a small farmer in Pays-de-la-Loire, who did not own his land. It marks you for life. I am also the second of five daughters. I had to integrate my father’s frustration of not having a boy. And then, there was the bad conscience to continue secondary studies among the nuns, who had been forcing, when my parents did not have the means. This feeling of discrepancy then followed me in faculty, then again when I joined the Socialist Party, in 1971. I was five years without saying anything during the section meetings because I did not feel authorized! If I was able to grow up, it is thanks to school and thanks to all the wonderful encounters that I was able to make afterwards and which gave me self-confidence. With, in the end, a much more panoramic vision of society.

I am cash but sincere. I blame this Parisianism, which I still come up against today, and which leaves the left in a catastrophic state. The rebirth will not come from Paris anyway. But thanks to resistance at the local level!

In this intimate and family portfolio, we find you as a feminist activist, French teacher, elected (general counselor, from 1982 to 2001), accompanying Jean-Marc Ayrault, mayor of Saint-Herblain, then mayor of Nantes, then Prime Minister, then Minister of Foreign Affairs. We see you alongside the Dalai Lama, Angela Merkel or Pope Francis. Do you still harbor complexes in the face of these multiple lives?

No, I take full responsibility for my career, I especially do not want to appear as a martyr! But this book is therapy. I am proud to have been able to continue to exist on my own, whether in Nantes (where I built teenage house in 2005) or in Matignon (I then sponsored the association Permis de vivre la ville). I am also very happy that our family survived all this political turmoil. We are still very close, with Jean-Marc and our two daughters, today.

You return bitterly to the “Ayrault bashing” and the attitude of former President François Hollande, when he appointed Manuel Valls Prime Minister, in 2014. What did your husband think of it?

He read it and he found that I was a little harsh with François Hollande. He thinks history will one day bring the former President right. Me, I blame his strategy at the time because it was not faithful to his speech at Le Bourget. I am cash, but sincere. I blame this Parisianism, which I still come up against today, and which leaves the left in a catastrophic state. The rebirth will not come from Paris anyway. But thanks to resistance at the local level!

“A woman’s path”, published by Coiffard, € 22. Brigitte Ayrault will dedicate her book at the book fair, in Port Crouesty, in Arzon (56), from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m., Thursday, July 22.

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