Hi I've lived in France for over 12 years in a number of difference places, moving for professional reasons. I used to love the country but really struggling with the atmosphere at the moment. Living in a big city and threat of terrorism seems ever present, soldiers everywhere with guns even in parks. Trying to be rational and calm but think the atmosphere has changed so much in past few years. Aside from the terrorism threat I find the country really expensive, economically depressed and morose. Is it just me or is anyone else feeling the same?
I do remember the IRA attacks but this sadly much more frightening, especially Nice and the Bataclan attacks. I just don't know how the country will ever overcome the current threat plus the political and economic situation is so dire. I think France is a very different proposition if you live in a rural area, sadly I don't think we will stay much longer. We don't want our children growing in such an environment, and my DH is French but even he sees the situation only worsening.
I don't remember the 70s and the IRA campaign in mainland Britain but I don't think it is really comparable with the current situation in France. The IRA were no angels but they had a set of concrete aims and demands. Islamic State don't have that, they just aim to inflict maximum damage.
I think the real problem in France though is the extent to which this has polarized society and the attempts to impose a singular (and at least partially fictional) brand of Frenchness on everyone. We are muslims although we pass for white European non muslims and the way I have seen the situation develop between muslims and non muslims in France over the past few years is pretty much the following: 1. A small group of muslims make completely unreasonable demands, such as the removal of pork from all school meals. 2. The authorities agree to the ridiculous demand. 3. Everyone else is upset and feel attacked and dictated to in their own country. 4. Authority figures make some general statement about the need for everyone to conform to French values and respect the French way of life while doing nothing to solve the specific problem(s) that precipitated the crisis. 5. Another terrorist attack happens and authorities clamp down on external symbols of Islamic faith in response. Muslims feel victimized and the people who are committing the crimes who rarely pray in mosques, wear traditional Islamic dress or show any signs of religiosity still go under the radar. 6. Both sides dig in their heels. Repeat from step 1.
Meanwhile the racist and extremists on both sides rub their hands with glee.
So yeah, I unfortunately agree with you that France does feel very gloomy at the moment and part of the problem at least is diabolically poor management. Don't get me started on the benefits system and how it encourages procreation as an alternative to paid work.