Strasbourg: A Tailor in The City of Suits

Article published on May 6, 2014
Article published on May 6, 2014

Once a month an army of parliamentarians, assistants, advisors and miscellaneous bureaucrats descend on Strasbourg when the European Parliament convenes. During this week, Strasbourg becomes "The City of Suits". But these suits don't grow on trees...

Stras­bourg is the cap­i­tal city of the Al­sace re­gion in east­ern France. It's right on the bor­der with Ger­many and has re­peat­edly changed hands through­out his­tory. But now, thanks to 60 years of peace, the city is a thriv­ing, mul­ti­cul­tural cap­i­tal of Eu­rope.

De­spite being a very lovely city, it is not fa­mous for its peo­ple, mon­u­ments or food. Stras­bourg is fa­mous for the Eu­ro­pean in­sti­tu­tions.

One week every month, Eu­ro­pean politi­cians who usu­ally work and live in Brus­sels move en masse to Stras­bourg. This monthly mi­gra­tion fill the streets and ho­tels. Dur­ing this week Stras­bourg be­comes "The City of Suits".

Xavier He­do­ire is a tai­lor who lives in Stras­bourg. He came to the city with one thing in mind: to suit and boot Stras­bourg's main play­ers. More specif­i­cally, he wanted to tap into the suit sell­ing po­ten­tial of the Eu­ro­pean in­sti­tu­tions.

How­ever, life is not easy for a per­son who en­joys tai­lor­ing men's suits and wants to do it for a liv­ing: Stras­bourg is The City of Suits only seven days a month and it is hard to find clients who come back reg­u­larly.

When Xavier first came to Stras­bourg, there were no men's tai­lors who made to mea­sure.

But clouds loom large on the hori­zon for Xavier and his fel­low Stras­bour­geois.

There is talk of doing away with the so-called "sec­ond par­lia­men­tary seat". Some of Eu­rope's politi­cians want to abol­ish the Stras­bourg par­lia­ment and do every­thing in Brus­sels.

They com­plain about per­sonal in­con­ve­nience and the cost, but they spare lit­tle thought for the peo­ple of Stras­bourg, many of whom de­pend on the Eu­ro­pean in­sti­tu­tions for their liveli­hood.

Xavier, like most peo­ple in Stras­bourg, wants to keep the Par­lia­ment. For him it's not just an eco­nomic issue. Stras­bourg's Eu­ro­pean in­sti­tu­tions hold an im­por­tant sym­bolic mean­ing for the city.

Stras­bourg: A Tai­lor in The City of Suits, by Josep Gutiérrez

This ar­ti­cle is part of a spe­cial se­ries de­voted to Stras­bourg. It's part of "EU-topia : Time To Vote", a pro­ject run by Cafébabel in part­ner­ship with the Hip­pocrène foun­da­tion, The Eu­ro­pean Com­mis­sion the Min­istry of For­eign Af­faires and the EVENS foun­da­tion. The whole se­ries will soon be avail­able on the home­page.