Repopulating an abandoned village
Straight after the village of Eourres, we set off to Terres Rouges, a little community set up in the deep mountains quite a way north of where we were. As we get onto the carpark, final destination of our brave mobilhome, we have a little snack before climbing the dustroad by foot to join the community. An old man, looking very country like, hangs out with his dog, and after picking a few fruit off the tree right next to us, he sits about half a meter beside me, as if we knew each other from
This is what you see when you arrive from the dust road. The house in amongst the trees, in a very quiet environment.
The old building renovated
It has taken 16 years of renovation since the start. Now, the building is hosting him and his daughter and another couple with their baby. throughout the year, woofers come and stay regularly.
An old style two family sized mountain house/farm. The animals used to stay on the ground floor during winter to heat up the upper floors while resting out of the frost bite.
Another part is still being renovated. Slowly but surely ! There is a piano (one piano amongst many in this place, surprisingly) in this building, which I played happily !
The bread oven
According to the size of the bread oven, one can have an idea of how many people would have lived there. The bigger the more as their need in bread would have increase with the inhabitants. This one would have accomodated about two families for around 30 to 40 people (back in the good old days where contraception was not quite as effective as nowadays).
The vege garden and tunnel house
Small gardens and glass houses
The old abandonned "hameau" or small village, was constitued of several buildings that used to host two entire families and the animals they would raise in order to achieve self-sufficiency, as this was almost compulsory back in the day in this type of isolated area. The isolation is certainly what pushed the previous inhabitants to leave. Now, as our host told us, the support in France is such that people can choose to live in those isolated areas thanks to financial support from the government. The man that lived there permanently had as only income the Income of Active Solidarity ("RSA" in French for "Revenu de Solidarite Active") which is given since 2009 for people having little or no income at all. He had worked hard before in order to keep the renovation running, but for the last two years, he had contented himself with this rather small survival like benefit.
This place had a different attraction and feel for us than Eourres. It wasn't as inspiring in many ways. Instead, it was very informative. Indeed, the man had an interesting story path: Him, his wife, another couple and two single persons had decided to move there and renovate the abandoned village together. He himself had fallen in love with the area when back in the day, he had played music for the inauguration of a tunnel that connected the valley to the main roads. When everyone of the group had given a promise of purchase to the owner of the land in order to ensure the deal, the other couple broke apart and so abandonned the project! Tamtam!! Now, out of 6, they only were 4 involved. And they had to find the amount of money that the deserting couple was supposed to put in. Some sort of coincidence, our host saw it like a sign: he got the exact amount of money they needed through a member of his family's inheritage at that exact moment. The deal happens, and the group of 4 buys the land and soon moves in.
Well, it wasn't long after, 2 months to be exact, that the other 2 members of the group left the project as well. The first winter had been like a reality check, and what seemed like a dream, an adventure of restoring an old abandonned village in the mountains became a nightmare of frost, isolation and, in fact, a pretty rough life! Now they were only him and his wife remaining, and there was no way they would run away as all their money had been put in it, and nobody would ever want to buy this piece of..."heaven".
I don't know much time afterwards, but him and his wife had a girl, and some time later his wife left too. He explained he worked hard the first years to sustain his family and to turn the place into a livable house. But this determination worked against him as his wife didn't find contentment in him being so busy, and I must assume, in such loneliness and isolation.
So, he started the dream with his wife and another 4 people. And he ends up alone. This seemed to be a good exemple of a project that ends up far from its original goal. This is how the mayonnaise can turn to vinagre! Well, to my partner and I's eyes, this project and our host situation wasn't most attractive. This gave us a bit of a chill warning about how things can turn to some unexpected situation even though you started with the most wonderful dream.
On top of it, the man showed us around the house and the different buildings. He insisted many times: "If you have the choice between building anew or renovating, ...build anew! Then you can control every step from the beginning, and construct your house like Lego, block by block, without struggle, even almost from Google! But when you renovate, you need good knowledge about stone work, masonry, etc. And you need to fix almost everything, so you end up spending more time and ressources than you ever thought you would!". My partner and I first imagined to build our own little community, from a bare land, or from an old farm, or...from an abandonned village! And we were about to visit one of them just here after to "guess a look". But after visiting Terres Rouges and hearing of that dude's story, no offense to him, but we agreed on looking into building anew and maybe not go for the community aspect of things, that last point still to be surveyed.
Up the dust road
The next morning, we are back on the dust road to go to Terres Rouges again.
Our home-sweet-mobil-home stays behind, and the landscape gets wider as we make our way up.
Off we go !
Higher... where we can see our sweet home through the branches.
And higher... this is a good preview of how isolated the area is.
Someone is enjoying the ride :)
Back to the house, looking beautiful, old, stony, big!
The pear tree
In front of the house sits this magestic old pear tree that bears hundreds of pears ! Climbers welcome.
There were about 3 or 4 woofers at the time we visited, which is nice. They are quite a few woofers there over the season but we guessed, winter is pretty quiet in that matter. We had a chat while pulling weeds out of the vege garden with these guys.
Our little monster having a good time in the Hammock.
The side face of the house, where the kitchen gives out onto a terrace.
Another building at the back, huge, is being turned into a toolshed workshop on one side and a dance room on the other side. The construction technique used this time is a wooden frame with strawbale insulation.
The old barn or so, hosting that piano
Still open to the elements as it is in renovation as well.
Rock that piano !!
Not so inspiring
...this is why we travel.
Our next stop is a collective of Artists that lives in one big block of a building and in many little light constructions and yourtes on the land around. It's called "La Fee Nadou"
Visit Eourres, an interesting little alternative village perched in the mountains where strawbale homes and fruit trees are rather common.
Play "Through the love eyes" of the album "Many a story"
long time (not to point out the good vibe there was but the easiness he invaded my private space with). And he started talking about how the world was going to collapse if it continued the way it does: "The course of men is like a river going faster to the waterfall, then falling off. The deeper it falls, the greater its speed, and the point of its higher speed achieved just before it hits the bottom, just like humanity right now". He sounded quite onto it about the different revolution happening in different parts of the world such as Tunisia, Greece, etc. A rather surprising meeting really. Then our host arrived, worried that we would not make it up the dustroad with our mobilhome, he came down by car to pick us up. These two men, in fact, were long time friends. The old man started walking, which gave me the time to take that shot by the window of the car we just got in. But we pick him up too, as he was going all the way up to get his goats, good sheperd he was.