French students' anger flares far from Paris. 'Bordeaux is not usually a protesting town,' but fires and marches simmer.

In France, student movements have historically had the power to frighten governments. University students set off the monthslong 1968 revolution that upended the country's social norms and pushed the president to dissolve his government and call for new elections. 

And later, facing large students protests in 2006, the government repealed its newly passed youth-jobs contract.

Traditionally, Bordeaux, in the southwest of France, is known for its surrounding vineyards, conservative politics and colonial wealth. It is a measure of the anger raised by the government's decision to force through a law increasing the retirement age to 64, from 62, that Bordeaux, too, has become a flashpoint.

''Students are much more difficult to send back to work,'' explained Lionel Larre, the president of Bordeaux Montaigne University. '' They have nothing much to lose. And they are numerous.''

Mr. Larre has met regularly with the students occupying his campus and generally supports their cause, though not their method. From his vantage point, the movement is growing.

''My fear is the movement becomes more and more radical, and people believe they have nothing to lose,'' he said.

But for many, repealing the pension law is no longer enough. Their fight is now with a Constitution that offers so much power to the presidency, and with Mr.Macron's rule in particular.

'' Our victory will be the end of this government,'' said Helene Cercle, 22, among a throng of singing students being led by a marching band in the protest one last Tuesday. Ms. Cercle doesn't worry that the protests will degenerate.

'' I'm mostly scared that all this won't change anything,'' she said.

 The World Students Society thanks author Catherine Porter.


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