Pensioner Genevieve has just ordered the plat du jour as I walk into the beautiful Veloc cafe in Perigueux and, as this is her birthday lunch, she’s telling the cafe owner with a flirtatious wink, she’s already got her eye on one of his bottled prunes afterwards as a “special little treat for a special little old lady”. She turns her infectious smile to me.
“Ooh!” she says when I tell her who I am. “How lovely, a lady from Brexit Britain. I think Brexit’s great. I’d like France to get out of Europe so she could find her own identity again.”
All the way down the Dordogne valley, Britain’s influence is hard to ignore. The region is home to so many British expats that it’s often dubbed Dordogne-shire.
They may not have got the French eating Marmite quite yet but they certainly have got the locals chewing over the results of last June’s referendum and wondering what a Frexit might taste like.
Cafe owner Christophe Constantin shakes his head firmly when I ask whether he sees France’s future outside Europe.
Since opening his cafe six months ago he explains, 27 different nationalities have walked through his door. And he feels thoroughly European, he adds.
His neighbour Thomas listens in as he sips coffee at the bar. “I think there’s a strong current pushing for France to leave the EU actually,” he says.
“I think there’s a strong possibility that we’ll be out – perhaps not in these elections but maybe after the next. The EU needs to reform to avoid this total divorce.”
Far-right leader Marine Le Pen has made renegotiating France’s membership of the EU one of her key campaign promises. She has vowed to pull France out of the euro and to hold a referendum on a new deal.
Since France has a constitution that states that the “Republic is part of the European Union” however, any Frexit would require a constitutional change.
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The two uniformed men on the street opposite the cafe laugh when I suggest that it is unlikely that the Front National would be able to get such a constitutional change approved.
“Don’t worry, we’ll watch how Britain does it first,” says one.
Back inside the cafe, Genevieve’s charm has won over Christophe and she’s contentedly tucking into her freebie birthday prune. She beckons me over.
She licks the last of the syrup from her spoon. “Let’s make France great again!”
Three hundred kilometres (186 miles) further south and in his office in Pau’s town hall, centrist Mayor Francois Bayrou looks out on to the imposing snowy peaks of the Pyrenees.
For years, he’s been trying to tell the French that they have been imprisoned by a two-party system – between a Left and a Right that will never concede there might be a third way.
“We need to unite people and we need to reform. The Socialist Party is decomposing and the Republican right is in civil war.”
This year it won’t be Mr Bayrou who is representing the centrists. It is the younger, staunchly pro-European Emmanuel Macron with his brand new movement En Marche.
Emmanuel Macron borrows creeds from left and right and his centrist approach has already won him more than 100,000 supporters nationally but it has left others suspicious and confused.
“What does he really stand for?” asks a woman on her way to work. “I’m not sure I trust him.”
“I will probably vote Macron, but with no enthusiasm or conviction,” says a retired man strolling through the park. “But maybe we should try something a little bit different.”
My next stop is Mirail, a poor and largely immigrant suburb of Toulouse. In this “sensitive neighbourhood,” as the French call it, they need a political solution that is radically different. The police won’t even come here let alone the politicians.
“If you want to talk about Islam or about terrorism, I’m off,” warns a young man in a grey hoodie at Kada’s burger stall.
“We need to talk about jobs – that’s what we need to talk about – work is the problem here, not Islam.”
His friend shouts over him. “Politicians know damn well what we need. They’ve known for years.
“Why would I vote when no-one represents my neighbourhood or me?”
Kada, who runs the burger stall, nods at the groups of men clustering round him.
“If you come from a sink estate like this, believe me you’re stigmatised. But give us jobs and watch what we can do.”
Kada believes it’s his civic duty to vote but he understands why so many of his customers won’t be voting.
Although he has left-wing sympathies, he has never voted because, as he says, even the Socialists seem to want to clamp down on Muslims – always banging on about Muslim women wearing headscarves.
He searches my face for traces of irony when I suggest that perhaps he needs to vote so his voice will be heard.
“In 20 years, nothing’s changed in this neighbourhood,” he says. “Politicians just forget us the minute the elections are over.”
He picks up a screwdriver. “That’s why I vote God.”