Rural France

The emerging voting patterns of rural France

France — Interview

The first round of voting earlier this month in France’s presidential elections showed notable political differences between the country’s regions, and also between rural areas and large urban centres. As next Sunday’s decisive second round of the elections approaches, Mediapart’s Amélie Poinssot turned to sociologist Benoît Coquard, a specialist researcher of rural communities, for his insight into the voting patterns that have emerged.

The volunteers helping domestic violence victims in rural France

France — Report

According to a 2021 report by French senators, half of all murders of women in France are committed in rural regions, where just one third of the country’s female population reside. The plight of women victims of domestic violence is particularly acute in rural areas where isolation, local taboos and the relative scarcity of public services combine to aggravate their distress. Élodie Potente reports from the Drôme, a rural south-east département (county), where local associations and volunteers provide help for victims amid the absence of adequate state support.

The French village mayor resisting Covid health pass and walking legal tightrope

France — Report

Introduced in France this summer, a “health pass” attesting that the holder is fully vaccinated against Covid-19, or has recently tested negative to the coronavirus, is required for gaining access to a wide range of public venues. This month, as the government moves to extend its power to impose the pass through to next summer, Mediapart took to the road to gather reactions to the restrictions in the lesser populated rural areas of central and south-west France, where local concerns contrast with those in crowded urban zones. Here, Nicolas Cheviron reports from the village of Corn, whose mayor, Dominique Legresy, a fervent opponent of the pass, confides how he tries “to allow things to happen” without breaking the law.

Homecare workers fear virus crisis ahead in rural France

France — Report

As the Covid-19 coronavirus epidemic accelerates across France, the country was officially placed in lockdown at midday on Tuesday, with the population required by law to remain at home except for essential purposes, such as buying food, attending medical appointments, or travelling to work for those with no alternative. Attention has been focused on the bizarre atmosphere taking over Paris and major cities as streets empty of pedestrians and vehicles. But the crisis ahead is nowhere more acute than for the dependent elderly and handicapped in rural areas who already rely on homecare workers to survive in normal times, and now more than ever. Jordan Pouille reports from the Sologne region in north-central France.

Expert study into birth deformities in rural France fails to find answers


A French health ministry experts' study into reported clusters of babies born with missing or malformed upper limbs in three separate regions of rural France has failed to establish the cause. “We don’t know what we’re looking for,” said one of the panel of experts. The study has caused outrage among families of the malformed infants, born without arms or hands, after it decided one of the clusters did not meet the medical criteria of the term, and ruled out a number of proposed measures to further research into the problem at a national level. Amid speculation that environmental factors, such as pesticides, may have played a role, the experts said there was “currently insufficient” knowledge of the issue to draw a conclusion. François Bonnet reports.

Town v country: rural French schools feel sacrificed in favour of urban areas

France — Analysis

The education authorities have just made their annual announcement about which primary school classes are being closed and which are being opened in the next academic year. Teaching unions and elected representatives in rural areas fear village schools are getting fewer teaching posts so that the government can implement its flagship policy of halving class sizes in education priority zones - which are overwhelmingly in deprived urban areas. Education minister Jean-Michel Blanquer rejects the claims. Mediapart's education correspondent Faïza Zerouala reports.

The mismanaged forests invading rural France

France — Report

With the steady desertification of many areas of rural France has come a parallel invasion of forests reclaiming abandoned land. A combination of unsustainable and mismanaged forests, many hurriedly planted to provide timber for the post-war reconstruction, and the division of private forestland into myriads of tiny plots has resulted in disfigured landscapes and villages overrun by fir and spruce trees. The problem is nowhere more acute than in the Puy-de-Dôme département in central France, from where Aurore Staiger reports on the efforts of local officials to claim back the landscapes of the past and to reorganise woodland within a diverse and sustainable environment.

Organised crime targeting rural France

France — Link

Recent arrests show tractors, vines, crops and livestock - sometimes butchered on site - are increasingly the prey of criminal gangs based abroad.

The battle in Burgundy to save a forested land from a job-promising plant

France — Report

In a struggling rural region of Burgundy, at the gates of the Morvan national park, locals have mounted a campaign to halt a private company from creating a vast wood-processing industrial site which would bring hundreds of jobs to the area. Local politicians support the project as offering a much-needed boost to the flagging local economy, while its opponents argue the environmental cost for a short-term gain is unacceptable. The future of the site now hangs on a ruling due from France’s highest court, the Council of State. “What’s being played out here is truly a debate about society,” says Christian Paul, socialist Member of Parliament for the region and one of the project’s supporters. Anne Duvivier reports.

'Yurt war' in rural France

France — Link

The good life turns sour for three British families living in small village near Limoges after local mayor rules their yurt homes have to be removed.

Morosity gains rural France amid political scandals and economic crisis

France — Link

In French rural heartlands, the Jérôme Cahuzac scandal and the growing economic crisis has deepened disillusionment and anger at political class.

The rural slums spreading in the shadow of France's housing crisis

France — Report

The Fondation Abbé Pierre, one of France’s leading charitable foundations dedicated to eradicating bad housing conditions endured by the country’s poorest social categories, today released its 18th annual report on the state of the French housing crisis. It estimates that 3.6 million people in France live in rotten housing conditions, ranging from the dilapidated to the thoroughly insalubrious.  Most of these properties are situated in major towns and cities, but the report also sounds the alarm at the overlooked situation in France’s economically declining rural and semi-rural regions, where increasing numbers of the nearby urban population are fleeing to escape the housing crisis. Renaud Ceccotti reports from a rural area close to Paris where he met with a family whose descent into semi-slum living conditions is typical of many.