He had arrived to close the pandemic page. Just a year ago. France, eager to reconnect with recklessness, discovered the face of this high official with the singing accent that the media had renamed “M. Déconfinement”.

The return of ” happy Days “ was approaching. A new phase of Emmanuel Macron’s five-year term, less arrogant and more “terroir”, was to begin this 3 July 2020, when Jean Castex, surprised and flattered, was appointed Prime Minister.

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A blank year. Or almost. A year later, “M. Déconfinement” has not yet completely deconfined the country that arises from the threat of a fourth wave of Covid-19 doped by the Delta variant.

Nine months before the presidential election, the “hell of Matignon” seems never to have better borne its name for its tenant. By receiving us rue de Varenne, this Thursday, July 15, mask stuck on the lower face, the Prime Minister rolls his eyes. “You don’t choose your era”, he sighs. But he puts into perspective: ” When I was M. Deconfinement, I witnessed a France where everything was suspended. For a year, the health crisis has certainly played an extension, but public action continues! “

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At 56 years old, the child of Vic-Fezensac, in the Gers, son of teachers with the allure of M. Tout-le-Monde, concedes it. He is happy in hell. When, after three years in his place, his predecessor, Edouard Philippe, thin and graying, poorly concealed his exhaustion, making little mystery of his disagreements with the Head of State, Jean Castex flourished in Matignon, where the have joined wife and children. “Nothing is more motivating than to serve your country, especially in times of crisis”, he confides.

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Relations with Emmanuel Macron, with whom he meets face-to-face about twice a week, are good. Fluids. “They make a beautiful couple”laughs Patrick Vignal, deputy for Hérault for the presidential party La République en Marche (LRM).

“I have to face”

Popular, without stealing the show from the Head of State, a man without mood or ego, with a sense of the general interest that is said to be pegged to the body, Jean Castex has found his place alongside, or rather at the shadow, of the president. “It corresponds to the specifications. It lets light through to better illuminate Jupiter ”, laughs Bruno Retailleau, at the Les Républicains (LR) group in the Senate. Complementary to Emmanuel Macron, the Prime Minister speaks to the CSP – when the Head of State addresses the CSP +. The second is for young people? The first reassures the elderly.

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