Tuesday, August 6, 2013

La Place

The town square or as it is known here "La Place" is the heart & soul of every small town in France. My village is no exception. In the photo below the townspeople are pictured gathered in its square sometime around the turn of the century.

In many ways not much has changed. The second view appears to have been taken somewhat later by the looks of the growth of the chestnut trees. Each of these early photos were taken as a carte postal or post card.

I dug up the photo below, which I took when we first came here over twenty years ago. I loved when the old clock tower was covered in vines. Originally the town hall, this prominent building had already been replaced in that function by the time we had arrived. To the side the same grand old chestnuts are just visible.

Last year before I left I took a few more photos of "la place", as word had come that it would be undergoing a renovation & modernization over the winter months. Sadly the beautiful old chestnut trees were diseased & had to come down.

It broke my heart to think of losing these trees. They had provided a shaded place for villagers to gather for over a century. They had sheltered passersby & residents alike. Standing silently as conversations were whispered, over the years they had overheard children's play, village gossip, lover's secrets, the joys & sorrows of generations.

I have to admit that no mater how prepared I had been, when I first entered the village & saw for the first time the "new" square, I wanted to weep.

It looked so stark, with its new white paving stones & benches & the tiny oak trees that had been planted to replace the chestnuts.

I was not the only one who had felt a pang of sorrow & displeasure. Many of the villagers were not happy. They especially did not like the new stone benches, no matter how sculptural & old worldly they might look. They are hard, cold in the winter & hot in the summer. Not only that but they have no backs & are most uncomfortable to sit on.

The outcry was so strong that one of the old benches was resurrected & brought back. And as I have noticed, it is the only one that anyone ever sits on.

As for the trees & the shade, we will just have to be patient & wait. Hopefully it will not take another hundred years.


  1. How fun to see those chestnut trees just planted and young as in the first photo. People probably thought then it would take forever for them to provide shade. Too sad that they had to come down.

  2. the same thing happened here to one of our town squares. it´s now modern with lots of concrete. think the town wanted to save money on gardening. :)
    hope you are enjoying your summer. :)

  3. dear sally
    i understand your sadness so well
    they are cutting down a lot of trees where i live these days,
    for the sake of building,
    and makes me so upset,
    and frustrated,
    and sad....

    how we feel that our actions are legitimate. to rule over nature. or at least try.

    even though the chestnut story might have different reasons...

    hug to you

  4. it's the perfect example of a mayor who does not know the city's inhabitants... why would they replace the benches ?

    I hate when people cut down trees too.

    I feel the old critical French soul inside me coming out :D