- Driving through French villages, I hope to not meet oncoming traffic on the narrow streets constrained by centuries-old stone buildings and plastic bollards. But one road hazard we seldom encounter in villages is children. Rural France seems to have lost its young generations and is populated by middle-aged tourists who potter around in expensive cars, and by elderly locals. Where are the children and young people? It may be that families cluster in the suburbs of cities where we are unlikely to have any reason to venture. But it may also be that France is experiencing a demographic ageing crisis.
Nearly all French men have facial hair. I have arrived with a clean-shaven face but I may have to let my beard grow a bit if I want to be taken seriously here.