Hi, Cécile! I grew up in France and attended public schools there right up to the baccalauréat and you’re not wrong regarding institutional racism.
Funnily enough, I used to have a fairly ethnic last name too, Eastern European, and it most definitely was an object of curiosity. “Where are you from?”, “Are you sure that’s how you spell it?”, “You do have a complicated name”… I heard this from everyone from teachers to consular staff once I had moved abroad, because they all felt entitled to comment. I was born in France, my grandfather wasn’t but I’ve always been of the opinion that it was nobody’s business.
As for the current situation in France, I’m not the best placed to comment as I’ve lived all my adult life abroad. I do follow the news closely and vote when required, however.
For all its shortcomings, France is still a far better place to be struggling and/or sick than the U.S. where absolutely everything is dependent on how much money you have.
There’s no safety net whatsoever on this side of the Atlantic and health care still isn’t a basic human right. A quick look at medical fundraisers online paint a very bleak picture of America. As for education, it is the preserve of the rich or those prepared to incur very large debts they then spend most of their life paying off. France isn’t like that yet, thankfully.
The writer of the original piece I responded to had a very candid view of Paris, which is a fairly common among first time visitors. It was charming, but inaccurate as you also point out.