A treehouse eco-idyll facing demolition

Xavier Marmier built his treehouse on forestry land he bought in 2008 set on the outskirts of the village of Cléron, in the Franche-Comté region of eastern France, about 50 kilometres from the border with Switzerland. At the time, his novel construction, a model of eco-friendly architecture and functioning which took three years to build, met with the approval of the village mayor. But all that changed in 2014 with the arrival of a new mayor and local council, which has demanded that he demolish his home. Ever since, Marmier, a man with a head for heights, a tree surgeon and installer of travelling circus big tops by trade, has been engaged in a dizzying legal battle which recently turned against him. Words and pictures by Raphaël Helle.

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  1. Isolated in the middle of a forest, on a plot of one hectare of land he bought in 2008, Xavier Marmier’s cabin, with a surface area of 40 square metres, was built amongst beach trees which he carefully avoided damaging. It took him three years to complete what was a childhood dream.

    He moved into the house as soon as it was completed in 2011, and with the approval of the then mayor, Chantal Guet Guillaume. But in 2014, a newly elected mayor, Alain Galfione, and his local council demanded that Marmier produce planning permission for the construction, which he did not have. He was invited to apply for the permit retroactively, which the council then refused to grant. Faced with an order to demolish his home, Marmier took his case to a district court which, in July 2016, found in his favour.

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