Emmanuel Macron, a French president, narrowly missed being struck by a bag of tomatoes during a surprise visit to a working-class area north of Paris, as he promised a new way of listening to people after his re-election.
Macron strolled around a food market in Cergy, north-west of Paris, shaking hands and posing for selfies in his first public appearance since Sunday's vote. Some people were friendly, some shouted congratulations and others asked for help in finding a job, dealing with health problems or making ends meet.
But at one point there were briefly boos, and a bag of tomatoes was thrown towards Macron's back, but missed. A bodyguard opened an umbrella to protect the president, who quickly sidestepped the projectile and continued to greet people and shake hands.
The lys e palace said the trip was Macron's way of listening to people's concerns, expectations and needs. He told local young people he wanted to get out of the way of the start. One young woman replied: Don't just come here for the photos. Another onlooker said it is good that Macron is getting out of the lys e. Macron won a second term at the weekend, beating the far-right Marine Le Pen by 58.5% to 41.5%, but on the campaign trail he had been accused of being haughty and aloof and not understanding people's concerns about the cost of living, housing, jobs and poverty. He had struggled to shake off the tag President of the Rich.
Macron said in Cergy: I want to give a message of respect and consideration to these areas that are among the poorest in the country, right from the start of my mandate. He acknowledged that the deprived, high-rise neighbourhoods surrounding Paris had some of the highest absorption rates in the presidential election. Macron said life was hard there, and some people felt angry or cut off from politics, and not enough progress had been made in recent years to improve their lives. He said there were problems of discrimination, a need for training schemes, a need for more doctors and better health care in these areas, as well as job creation. He said that we brought down unemployment here, but it is still above the national average because of discrimination and not enough training.
Macron, the first French leader to be re-elected for a second term in 20 years, is focused on the parliamentary elections in June. He will need to have a centrist majority in the 577 seat house to put in place his manifesto plans, including overhauling the benefits system and raising the pension age. Pollsters believe that he has a good chance of winning a majority.
Macron chose to visit Cergy, a leftist area where the radical-left leader Jean-Luc M lenchon topped the presidential first round. M lenchon is trying to strike alliances with other parties on the left to challenge Macron's centrists in the parliamentary election.
M lenchon's party, La France Insoumise, which currently has only 17 seats in the lower house, wants to expand by hundreds more to win a majority for the left. On Wednesday, the Socialist party and the Greens party EELV began discussions on possible parliamentary alliances with M lenchon to increase the number of seats on the left.
The Socialists are traditional rivals to M lenchon's more radical La France Insoumise, and some older socialists warn against surrendering the party's principles. The Greens favor an alliance, but some Green figures said they would not compromise on their pro-European and anti-nuclear stance.