French President Emmanuel Macron is under fire after he responded to an unemployed horticulturist struggling to find a relevant position, by saying that he would be able to find him a job instantly in any Parisian restaurant "just by crossing the street."
Welcoming the public to the presidential palace on Saturday as part of an open-door event, Macron talked to a 25-year-old who said he was having no luck finding work as a gardener.
"I send resumes and cover letters—they don't lead to anything," he told Macron, in a clip that quickly went viral.
Macron advised him to head to the bustling Montparnasse neighborhood of Paris, saying he could find a job as a waiter in the blink of an eye.
"If you're willing and motivated, in hotels, cafes and restaurants, construction, there's not a single place I go where they don't say they're looking for people," he said. "If I crossed the street I'd find you one."
The exchange ended with a handshake, but many voices rose against Macron's, a former investment banker, elitism, accusing him of being patronizing and out of touch with ordinary people.
The Liberation Daily drew a comparison with the supposed suggestion by France's last queen, Marie Antoinette that if the poor had no bread they should eat cake instead.
After several previous headline-grabbing encounters with members of the public, including telling off a teenager for not calling him "Mr President," the paper advised Macron to stop "lecturing everyone."
Liberation accused Macron of "a purely technocratic vision under which if there are vacant jobs all you need to do is stick job-seekers in them, regardless of their training, their situation, or what they want to do with their lives.
"Blaming (job-seekers for their unemployment) in the style of Marie Antoinette; that's what is weighing this presidency down," it concluded.
The latest controversy comes as Macron's ratings have slumped, weighed down by a scandal over a former bodyguard seen on video footage beating up a protester on Labor Day and with economic growth set to come in at a lower-than-expected 1.6 percent this year.
A Kantar Sofres Onepoint poll released Monday found only 19 percent had a positive view of the president.