Thursday, 4 October 2007

Are the French passionate ?


I think the English have been conned for many years believing that our Gallic brothers over the Channel possess more passion and fire than ourselves.

It is true that a Frenchman is passionate about his digestive system and the wellbeing of his liver. Food and wine play an important and intricate part in his daily life and such matters are given high consideration. A Camembert is not the same as a Coulommier, even though they look similar, Oysters from Arcachon are to be distinguished from Oysters from Leucate, Limoux Cremante is not Krug from Bollinger and so on and so forth. As to whether a Frenchman makes a better lover I couldn't comment although there is still time !!

One area which never ceases to amaze me though is the French's lack of passion or concern in safeguarding their heritage and the natural beauty of the countryside. Sadly one only has to drive through the prettiest of villages to encounter ugly sprawling developments and a rash of germoline boxes that with thought and sensibility could have blended in with the existing architecture. Villages with a Mayor who possesses foresight are sadly few and far between.

The picture above is no longer, for only a few days ago the monstrous yellow diggers appeared for the new lotissment. Sited beautifully with far reaching views of the Pyrenees and vines this plot will be a blot on the previously unspoilt landscape for years to come. A landscape that has remained untouched and thus still retaining its natural beauty since Medieval times. A old stone wall runs the length of the field and set between the stone is a iron cross to remind all of the journey of Calbaire, Christ's last steps to his crucifixion. Every Palm Sunday someone places a blessed branch onto the cross.

A site to be preserved one would think, with passion even. Apparently not. Indifference, resignation and apathy abound. The word 'progress' is muttered, backs are turned away with a deep sigh.

And to argue in a reasoned and logical way is pointless. To explain that this village is a jewel in the crown of the Aude is fruitless.

A nation that places a glass pyramid in front of their greatest national asset, the Louvre, that has been the subject of debate for over 20 years could answer the question as to why they are single-handedly destroying their own heritage.

That's if they understood the passion behind the question in the first place.

25 comments:

Blossomcottage said...

I fear they never lift their eyes high enough from the plate of food or the glass of red wine to notice the view.Like you I am always amazed at the pretty villages that have been ruined by ugly buildings and how could they have allowed so many of their lovely antiques to wing their way across the sea to UK and USA? Interesting blog Sally
Blossom x

Hannah Velten said...

I'm amazed...almost speechless (or wordless). Thank goodness that in the UK we take responsiblity for preserving our heritage. But why on earth don't the French? What will they have left for future generations - how increadibly short-sighted. Thank you for teaching me something today, Sally. Mootia x
Ps. Have those leaflets left France yet?

Crystal Jigsaw said...

Ruining beautiful landscapes seems to be a thing of the norm these days. Find a bit of land and build on it. No wonder our farmers are losing out. There's going to be no land to work soon because it will be built upon. We do have some beautiful countryside in this country and it is such a shame when you see the JCB's surrounding it.

Crystal xx

Un Peu Loufoque said...

I think it depends on where you live in France and how good your mayor is.Here we have an excellent Bio organic female farmer as Mayor and the commune is ultra keen on environmental factors and preservation of heritage. A fortune has been spent on restoring a very ancient chapel to its former glory and a great fuss made when a landowner fenced in a local fontaine on his priate hunting estate, he was made to re-fence so that locals had access to it as it was once long ago part of the ancient pilgrimage route.

Sadly it sounds as if the village you speak of has a mayor more intent on increasing revenue rather then maintaning hertiage and natural beauty.

As for the Englsih being better at it, I know of several incidents in our old village where ancient trees with preservation orders were knocked down for development and the builders happily paid the meagre fine and houses listed as grade 2 were totally gentrified and ruined inside and out with the councils blessing and English Heritages response? Oh well better take of the listing now as there is nothing left to preserve!! Not even a fine!

I agree wiht Cryatsl when she says ruining landscapes seems to be becoming the norm these days.Everywhere it seems to boil down to whether someone in authority is happy to accept backhanders to line his own pockets and when that happens there seems to be littel anyone can do to stop them whichever country they are in.

Big sighs all around!!

Suffolkmum said...

I think it happens everywhere - we've got kind of used to it in our overcrowded little isle and when we see countries with so much more space doing it just as badly, it is shocking.

ChrisH said...

Suspect that it may be the same here in west Wales where the road from here to Carmarthen is gradually being filled in by housing, says Chis who is watching the buiders opposite flatten more grass to park cars on. Great. (Ps -do you need a chambermaid? At the rate things are going here I'll be on my way - just sling me a croissant and the odd glass of wine and I'll be happy - must be more peaceful than Hotel H at the mo.)

jackofall said...

As UPL says, it differs from town to town and depends on the attitude of the mairie and the political slant of the commune.

You could always chain yourself naked to the iron cross in protest, shaming the locals into doing something because une anglaise is more passionate than they are about their heritage and countryside. And if you did that, and photos were taken, there would be the calendar's Miss October!

Seriously, if you were the owner of that plot of land and were approached with reasoned and reasonable arguments about the need for new houses for the up and coming generation who cannot afford to buy into the present market, those arguments coupled with an offer of 1 million euros for the land, would you, honestly, be able to resist temptation? I'm sure you could justify it to your conscience to accept the offer.

NIMBYism is fine as an attitude, as far as it goes (which is not to say you are a NIMBY, Sally, I don't even know if this plot is anywhere near you), but sooner or later, someone's back yard will have to be built in.

Sally's Chateau said...

Well chaining myself stark naked is indeed an option Jackofall, would you be prepared to join me ? Seriously though this is not cheap housing for the up and coming generation who cannot afford to buy into the present market. If that were the case then there would be some provision for new families in the commune. There remain plenty of backyards within the village to be developed, they just did not belong to the one person who can easily pass development !!

jackofall said...

But you haven't answered the temptation question, could you morally justify accepting all that money, if the land was yours, knowing what would happen to it?

Sally's Chateau said...

Jackofall, If I were the Mayor or an immediate family member of his ? No. If I was somebody with no association whatsover to the village nor responsible for its development and wellbeing. Yes. (Trundles off to cross to pacify any moral outrage that may now come my way)

lampworkbeader said...

We are fighting all the way to prevent similar atrocities from going on near us. It's not only the French. At least they have a big country in which to do it.

Casdok said...

Yes does seem to be the norm, but its not right.

Exmoorjane said...

Hmm, not sure the UK is always that great about it either....but wherever it is, it's tragic seeing these places vanish. Progress indeed - but at what price? I wonder what our children's children will think of us?

Westerwitch/Headmistress said...

Oh what a horrible shame . . .not just restricted to the French though. Although as we live in one of Scotland's national Parks - the destruction takes place less.

Pondside said...

I'll be watching the papers, as the story of elegant Englishwoman chaining self nekkid to a cross would make front page!
From a Canadian perspective, where something built in 1890 is a heritage building, it is too bad to see ancient history go under the bulldozer.

snailbeachshepherdess said...

make sure its a warm day for the naked pics Sally...and NO white bits!!!
It isnt just France ...we are fighting tooth and nail to keep some small historical buildings in situ...guess who wants rid? Some incomers who have only been there months and have freely admitted that they can not see the historical significance...WHAT!???
Just makes my blood boil!!

LittleBrownDog said...

That's sad, Sally. I often think the same about Italy, where there are some quite hideous developments on the outskirts of beautifully preserved medieval towns. I suppose the French feel they have so much countryside (compared with us, perhaps) that they will not miss a little bit. They're a strange contradiction, though - their planning laws have fended off the swathes of upvc windows in old buildings that we see here - there's an old house in our village which dates back to the 13th century with some humungous plastic windows stuck on it. It's a great pity, though.

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Anonymous said...

The oysters, the bubbly, the cheese if you must....even chained to the cross, but a Frenchman as a lover!!!! Dear God, you must draw the line somewhere!!
Shameful the way they are ruining the view though, happening everywhere. Lining their pockets seems to be foremost in politicians minds these days.

Sally's Chateau said...

ge, I must thank you for including Sally's Chateau to your wonderful site of photo's from around the world, it's rather addictive isn't it ? I clung onto the cross starkers but not many people were around at 2 in the morning so I gave up my protest.........

toady said...

Just catching up. Our little commune on the Presqu'il de Crozon was pretty strict on some things and extremely sloppy on others. Friends who lived within the footprint of the ancient Abbey at Landevennec had to jump through hoops to get permission to build a garage. North Devon is becoming seriously over developed and it isn't housing for low earning locals either. Oooh don't get me started.

Mary said...

What a pity. They don't appreciate their vintage goods either which is why I buy so many on my visits

ChrisH said...

Sally, it may spoil the look of your lovely blog but if you'd like a 'Rocking Girl Blogger' award I believe I have a couple to give away so please have one from me if you'd like one.

Sally's Chateau said...

And finally to conclude this posting I'm going to make a controversial statement. Driving along a road that was once lined with majestic plane trees the tell tell sign of a small red and white plaque on the verge where once, they had, until recently stood.

The French do not deserve France !

Sally's Chateau said...

chrish, thank you (steps down off soap box and humbly accepts award)