When announcing the date for (another) deconfinement on May 11 this year, President Emmanuel Macron spoke of the “opportunity” the health crisis had provided to look at new ways of doing things and for French society and individuals to “reinvent” themselves.
“And me first”, he said.
The president went on to say that he would spend “the next few weeks, with all the different components of our nation… drawing out a path to make this possible.”
The announcement did mark the start of a new approach for Mr Macron. The normally self-confident leader has since been consulting tous azimuts – left, right and centre – on the future of France.
The word azimuts comes from an Arab word pronounced ‘az-samat’, which meant pathway in the 15th century. The word has astrological origins and refers to the horizontal angle between an object and a base reference point.
The French expression tous azimuts keeps a sense of this, but with multiple pathways added.
If someone is doing something tous azimuts they are doing it in all ways and directions or as we might say in English, ‘left, right and centre’.
In Mr Macron’s case, this has meant holding meetings this summer with local officials, politicians from multiple parties, 20 new economics advisors, unions and employers' organisations, and medical advisory bodies Conseil scientifique and le Comité analyse recherche et expertise.
The country that will emerge from the health crisis may still be unclear - as are Mr Macron’s chances of winning another five-year presidential term in 2022 - but it seems like more voices than usual are getting a say in what the future holds.