Paris, Wednesday, under leaden grey skies — four days after the riots last weekend, when thousands of protesters in yellow safety vests set cars ablaze, threw paving stones at police and stormed the Arc de Triomphe, the city is still in shock. But Ségolène Royal wishes to remind me why we are lunching in this corner of the capital’s 16th arrondissement: herself. “It’s astonishing,” the former Socialist party presidential candidate says of the demonstrations against fuel taxes that have sparked the biggest crisis of Emmanuel Macron’s presidency. “I’m constantly in the media, even tonight — but I’m at the opera — because I’m one of the few who know the technical and political aspects” behind the protests. “But hang on,” she says. “How does this [Lunch with the FT] work? ” She suggests we shift tack to her new book. Talk of “the gilets jaunes . . . is becoming a bit heavy. It’s all everybody wants to talk about.” She takes a sip of a red fruit “detox” juice named “The Invincible”. I me...

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