French morale is at its lowest ebb in two decades, according to new research....the gloom has reached new depths since Mr Sarkozy's election - after a bright start - because of his attempts to reduce the overbearing role of the state.
"What do expect me to do? To empty the state's already empty coffers or to order companies to whom I have no right to give orders?" Mr Sarkozy asked earlier this month when quizzed on how he could boost French spending power.
"France is moving away from the nanny state towards more autonomy", said Gerard Mermet, a sociologist.
"Some people are happy about this, saying it's better to be in charge of ones own life and destiny than to depend on others. But it is painful for some social categories and in general in France we're not used to it. So perhaps the pessimism is a sign that we want to delay its arrival," he said. .....
But any Frenchman in need of a lift is strongly advised to read a "Loving Dictionary of France", by well-known author Denis Tillinac, which lists the reasons to love France and what makes it unique.
These include the ability of the French to laugh out loud at anything, however crude or trivial, while "English humour, subtler than ours, lends itself more to a smile.
Courage can be found everywhere, he goes on, "But panache is French".
"It is the cherry on the cake of bravura", and historically aimed at proving French "aesthetic superiority over the English, when bravery is equal". Panache is often mistaken by the foreigner for "arrogance."
However, Mr Tillinac's greatest love is for France's "superior woman".
"She is surely neither the easiest to live with nor the gayest. But the Frenchwoman is by far the most elegant. The most careful about her appearance, until the gates of death".
All very well, but the depressing downside is that to enjoy being French you have to live in France surrounded by Frenchies...