It’s market day Thursday in Vonnas, a town of 3,000 souls between Mâcon and Bourg-en-Bresse, stronghold of starred chef Georges Blanc. In front of the stalls, three candidates are vying for the attention of the few customers, leaflets in hand.

“I am Mr. Macron’s official candidate. Be careful, make no mistake! There is a dissident who also claims to be part of the presidential majority”, warns Isabelle Séguin, approaching two retirees with shopping bags. She does not want to mention the name of the outgoing LREM Stéphane Trompille, who “tows” a few meters away.

A former trainer in the humanitarian sector, the 60-year-old candidate, a resident of Dombes, the famous regional wetland, was a flight attendant and now runs a vocational training center.

She began to campaign for En Marche before the 2017 presidential election, then distanced herself from politics the same year, just after failing to be invested in the legislative elections.

This time, the hour of this fervent admirer of the president has come. And she struggles, multiplies the meetings, “tracts” and “box” in front of the small pavilions. “All this is new to me, but I am a fighter, hardworking, and close to people,” she responds to critics pointing to her inexperience.

On the market, the candidate, beige jacket and light dark pants, does not flaunt her moment of television glory. But she admits to drawing it sometimes, because “it obviously arouses interest” and surprise, even if some struggle to recognize it twenty years later.

“To have won Koh Lanta she must have character!”, greets Eliette Renault, a septuagenarian retiree, divided in the face of the “difficult choice” between the two macronists who are fighting over the mainly rural constituency of 129,000 inhabitants.

When Isabelle Séguin comes across Philippe Lerda, LFI / Nupes candidate, in front of a clothing stall, he seems a little annoyed: “No, I don’t know Koh Lanta, I haven’t had a TV for 25 years. I too I knew the adventure, but hey, in real life!”, he asserts.

– “Good luck!” –

A few steps away, Stéphane Trompille, 39, seems more relaxed. In shirt sleeves, he blows kisses and pats the shoulders, sometimes with a cigarette in his mouth.

“I don’t want to be too confident, it will be up to the voters to judge,” recites the man with glasses and a thick black beard. “Disconnected” by LREM, he chose to maintain his candidacy, stamped “resulting from the presidential majority”, for “not to abandon (s) his constituency”.

Walker of the first hour, he complains of not knowing why we did not invest him.

By way of evidence, his detractors recall a few embarrassing episodes: a violent altercation with “yellow vests” on a roadblock in Attignat in 2018, widely relayed on the internet, or his conviction to the industrial tribunal in 2020 for sexual harassment of a former colleague.

“If something is wrong with Stéphane, let us know!” Claims Philippe Bourret, LREM activist close to the elected official. “Stéphane had a difficult start, but for three years he has done a good job, within the National Defense and Armed Forces Commission and at the local level”, pleads this 60-year-old salesman.

This perilous duel of walkers makes the activist fear “an advance of the extremes”, in a constituency historically on the right – the deputy Michel Voisin (UDF then UMP) served six terms there between 1988 and 2017. Then, in the first round of the presidential , the National Rally came in just ahead.

“Ain is no longer an LR barony”, thundered the RN candidate Jérôme Buisson during a recent debate on France 3, facing the very right-handed LR candidate Aurane Reihanian, 29.

On the market, the sun begins to beat down when Stéphane Trompille finally crosses paths with Isabelle Séguin. The exchange is as civilized as it is icy: “Hello Mr. Deputy!”, engages the latter. “Hello… and good luck!”, replies the outgoing student, quickly taking his leave.