How barren is my valley: an everyday story of France's disappearing industrial fabric


It’s a story of everyday France, of a provincial region slowly dying through disindustrialisation, with mounting unemployment and a young population that sees no future worth planning for. In the Andelle valley in Normandy, factories once flourished. Now, the plants that haven’t yet closed are either scaling down the workforce or hiring mostly temporary staff. In a region just 90 kilometres from Paris, 25% of young men aged 15-24, and 35% of young women, are unemployed. Without transport, public or private, to travel farther afield for work, many young adults are caught in a spiral of odd-jobbing and signing on the dole. Liza Fabbian reports from a region that illustrates the grim reality of France’s disappearing industrial fabric.

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A slender brick smokestack sticks up between the trees, while a little further on the massive silhouette of a dormant blast-furnace stands out against the surrounding countryside. These are among the relics of factories that were for long the livelihood of the Andelle valley, beginning in the late 18th century.