Thursday, 8 October 2009

Local Crisis

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The N79 between Mâcon and Cluny is a good well maintained road that makes up part of one of the major east-west connections in France, the RCEA (La Route Centre Europe Atlantique). It was announced recently that this section of road is to be turned into a péage (toll road). This will be a blow to people round here who travel to Mâcon for their work, for shopping or like us for the numerous visits to some official office for the business or for the tax office.  The locals are up in arms as you could imagine, graffiti (a thing you rarely see around here) has started to appear on the bridges over the road, the first road-side signs have been put up and emails are flying around between interested parties.

We are on an emailing list for events in Cluny and this mailing list has been high-jacked by one of the groups campaigning against the road. We have received numerous boring mails about our liberties being infringed and our local taxes being diverted to the nation, all culminating in the feeling that the world will come to an end when the toll is imposed. Don’t get me wrong I don’t agree either, but maybe I am a bit more English about it, when a decision has been taken you have to comply, moan if you like but it won’t do any good, but the French have a glorious tradition of endless arguing, a lot of arm waving and going on strike. They do campaigns in style!

One of the campaigners has been digging in the historical archives and has come up with some fascinating information. In one particular document (« Paix et communautés autour de l’abbaye de Cluny, Xe - XVe siècle », Didier Méhu, Presses universitaires de Lyon, 2001) there is mention of a "route sans péage", a non-toll route. In the Middle ages, because the feudal lords had effectively been holding travellers to ransom by imposing large tolls on the roads passing through their land, the monks of Cluny became famous for managing to eliminate those tolls along the route from Paray-le-Monial and Nantua - exactly the same stretch of road that is being threatened once again.
 Our trusty campaigner ends his email with the comment “It is thus that the current debate has been preceded by a long battle, started in the XIIth century, to eliminate tolls on this road. This gives formidable historical legitimacy to those who try to preserve this asset against today's feudal lords: the sharks of capitalism…” With rhetoric like that we are bound to win!

click here to see the original article


  1. I think I might be the culprit when it comes to being on the mailing list. Some time ago I got a request through someone else (maybe our French teacher?) to sign an on line petition. As one does, I happily signed the petition, and since then I keep receiving emails from those left-wingers. Count your blessings, at least in France there are still some real ones!

  2. So now we know the truth! You are behind this all...


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