The disappearing world of French village life

The French affection for their little towns is tinged with guilt rooted in neglect

The village of Lignerolles in eastern France. Photograph: Jeff Pachoud/AFP/Getty Images

The village of Lignerolles in eastern France. Photograph: Jeff Pachoud/AFP/Getty Images

The most charming article I read last autumn was a short piece by Le Monde journalist Pascale Robert-Diard, titled “#ineverylittletown, tender and grave postcard from little France”.

A morning presenter at Virgin radio had asked listeners to answer the question “What does one always find #ineverylittletown? The resulting Twitter feed was the social media equivalent of Oliver Goldsmith’s 1770 poem The Deserted Village, an ode to moribund rural France. Though Irish readers would understand the phenomenon, the list was quintessentially French.

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