All of this would be true, and represent elements of the South of France but the more we live here, the more we see other elements of this area. We see images like these:
At least it seems that people try to forget about them - they act like they don't see them. For the fixed gypsies, the mentality by many we've met is that they don't like their children going to school with this people group. They are displaced in the sense that, according to one of my professors, the government has tried to move them out of their country by giving them money to leave, but they either only move to another country or many return to the same country after some time.
Juxtaposed up against a new luxury condo construction of a booming "quartier" (neighborhood) in Montpellier is a shanty town, a very poor tiny area of "homes" that have been constructed mainly out of boxes, and scrap material. It's the type of thing I have seen in other poor countries, but one I wouldn't think to find in the "south of France".
Juxtaposed up against a rich and eclectic boutique sits a father with a sleeping child on his lap, with his hand out for money. Many times even the children will be sent to ask for money. The other day on the tram, a woman got on with her son, who was sleeping in a stroller. As soon as the doors shut, she picked up her sleeping infant and walked around to all on the tram with her hand held out. This is not easy to watch, which is why so many turn their heads so they don't have to.
I don't have simple answers about how to integrate this group into society or even whether or not to give them money.
But lately I've been thinking about Jesus' relationship with the lepers, who were outcasts, and who were also forgotten and displaced. Jesus didn't react the way everyone else in the culture did. He touched the man and healed him.