Meet the Locals / Voices from Deepest France

For Trenet it was « la douce France ». Jean Pierre Rafferin called it “La France d’en bas” Be it « la France profonde, » or « la France eternelle », it is still thankfully alive and well, even in our sad, mad, fully-globalised world. How long will it last though?

When did you last see a village Gendarme on a bicycle? How many country churches have lost their Curé? What happens when the local café shuts down? The recession and the smoking ban are killing the « Café de Commerce »

The  « douce France » is still there, but it is on the verge of extinction. When a supermarket opens in a nearby town, the village « boulangerie » and the « boucherie » are the first to disappear. Next it’s the  village school. Is the “Institruce de campagne” living her last hours?

Here is a series of « vignette » style interviews with the locals, from my corner of deepest France, to chronicle the «France profonde » that we all know and love. Not the «allo allo » style clichés, but the workaday French countryside. The struggling dairy farmer, the worried « vigneron », or, the hard-pressed village mayor.

There are also the « characters » – Frank Picard, the last man in France to make hunting horns. Madame Eva who runs the local sex shop (or “love emporium” as she calls it) Georges Minchin, the village coypu killer and of course Mr Bonté, who plays Father Christmas every year for the local kids. These people make up the «la vraie France, » but for some reason, it is never the « real » France that all those glossy magazines claim to write about.

All these people need a voice, before they become no more than voices from the past.

The interviews in these pages were first featured in two English language, ex-pat newspapers. “French News” which sadly went out of circulation, and “The Connexion” – the only national English language newspaper still publishing in France.

What started as a writing idea back in 2007 has turned into a contemporary social history of France – Call it “France in the Sarkozy Years.” This was never my original intention though. So, I invite you to scroll down this section, and meet the locals.