All the people are leaving... - A country hidden by a large dog - CycleBlaze

August 13, 2019

All the people are leaving...

Rupt-sur-Saône to Fontenay-le-Château

Sing ho for the unopen road
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IT'S sad but this area, for all its pastoral contentment, is slowly dying. The rural desertification of France started with the industrial revolution, which itself was later here than elsewhere because farms were more plentiful than coal. It has continued ever since, pushed by inheritance laws and the mechanisation of farms. There is little to keep young people in much of rural France and not much more to hold older people who don't work in agriculture or small factories and find it more convenient to live in towns.

The difference from how things were shows in the many buildings on which fading signs announce they were bakeries or bars. People drank much more back then - France had a real alcoholism problem until the 1960s, which is why you no longer see cycling teams sponsored by breweries - and now there are only half as many people to support the businesses that remain.

The bars are gone and restaurants once the delight of rural France are following many of the shops out of business.

Other areas fare better but here in the north-east we have ridden through one dead community after another.

Maybe that's why there's such an effort to attract tourists in general and cyclists in particular. They bring money into the area. For cyclists, the effort shows in the signposted routes that follow the canals and rivers in snail-trails of smooth cement and tar.

Our pitch for the night
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We are camping tonight beside the canal that follows the Coney river. A group of walkers have stopped to talk and compare notes. They have come from Normandy, across in the west, so the region's efforts are paying off.

Our companion for the night now that the walkers have left - fenced off, happily, because an inquisitive cow will trample a tent
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We reached here after repeated hills and then a big long one that eventually dropped into Corre. There, in another limping town, we had lunch in a café run by a splendidly grumpy and paunchy barman and then went to inspect a mausoleum of members of the Resistance.

Corre honours its fallen Resistants
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In memory of my son, shot by the Germans at the age of 27
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Corre is rightfully proud of the resistance it showed to the Germans. That era may now be made a joke by television series of caricature Frenchmen and Germans but for most in the Resistance life expectancy was measured in months, even weeks.

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