My Mazamet

Life at № 42 by E.M. Coutinho

The end of an era?


That’s the cover of this month’s municipal magazine. The major item is the motorway. It’s reminding us we’re in the final stage before the concession. It’s also reminding us this part of the region is the last zone in France of over 100,000 inhabitants which isn’t connected to the motorway network. Once the project is completed people will be able to get to Toulouse and the airport in 40 minutes. (Hurrah, the Ryanair classes will have better access to us!) This will apparently completely transform the local economy, as has been the case with every other urban zone connected to the network. I feel ambivalent (thank you, Mr. Ruis 🙂 ), but that’s irrelevant because the project has 80% support.

I know it’s excellent for business, tourism and it’ll have major impact on property prices (projected increase in values of 50 to 100%), at the same time… I enjoy the splendid isolation. The same way I enjoyed the isolation in Sotogrande before it got its motorway. I feel followed. Like the world keeps trying to make me be a part of it against my will. Anyway, that doesn’t matter either because this is it. That delicate balance of civilization and isolation never lasts too long. I’ve seen it disappear time and again. Below is where my grandparents’ beach house is as it looked when I was born. If you can find the red and white light house, you’ll see it’s to the left of it. When my father was a child he called it the last house before the moon.itap

Now it looks like this:

Praia Itapua - Praia Itapua

Also in local news the abandoned factories on the river are being transformed into hydroelectric plants. Fabulous idea. The town is renting them out to private companies. And the winter market has moved to new indoor facilities about 200 metres from the house, which is convenient 🙂

22 comments on “The end of an era?

  1. Steve Ruis
    December 10, 2016

    I think you meant that you feel ambivalent rather than ambiguous. ;o)

    Regarding “I know it’s excellent for business, tourism and it’ll have major impact on property prices (projected increase in values of 50 to 100%), at the same time…” you have every right to be hesitant. None of those things actually has the promise of making your region’s people’s lives “better.” They all have the effect of increasing the number of people who live in your region and that is not necessarily a good thing. Consider a 100% increase in property prices. The current generation of property owners get a windfall. The next generation simply gets higher prices for the same property.

    We do not seem to have an “enough is enough” switch. In our striving for “more” we do not seem to focus much on égalité and fraternité (did I spell those right?), just more for me and to heck with you.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Ambivalent indeed 😀 (now corrected)
      We lived through this very process. When we first moved to Sotogrande there were about 200 homes, half of which were only used in summer. There was one little shop which sold everything from batteries to beef. The first year after the motorway we were flooded with developers, hypermarkets and the like. Now every summer 40,000 people descend on Sotogrande- and so we’ve moved here.


  2. Carmen
    December 10, 2016

    Oh, that winter market must be fabulous!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hariod Brawn
    December 10, 2016

    Oh my God!. Not “the Ryanair classes”, surely! How utterly appalling!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. kjennings952
    December 11, 2016

    More winter market pics please! It’s such a charming tradition and you certainly are charming this week

    Liked by 2 people

  5. acflory
    December 11, 2016

    I know how you feel, Pinky. When I was 6-ish, we moved to a suburb of Melbourne called Heidelberg. Back then, Heidelberg was the very last point on the train line. Now it sits at about the mid-point of that particular line. Fields, farms, all gone under a skin of low cost housing as Melbourne spread outward.

    Where I live now in Warrandyte used to be an abandoned gold mining village. Getting here was a ‘trip’ by car. We’re still on the urban fringe because this is a designated ‘green wedge’ but the tentacles of Melbourne have spread out around us.

    -sigh- I guess there’s always places like the Back of Burke…

    Liked by 2 people

    • We’re in a protected green zone too, but that was also true in Spain. My hope is that since it’s a national park any further development will be complicated and limited.


  6. midihideaways
    December 12, 2016

    I totally understand how you feel – I’ve been watching the ‘Ryanair classes’ arrive since Ryanair started flying to the south. In the ‘good old days’ there was only DanAir flying to Montpellier and Air France to Toulouse – that was pretty much it for travel from the UK. House prices were low, roads were empty, villages deserted. Since Mr O’Leary started his business, foreign home ownership has exploded, house prices have risen steeply and the roads are getting ever busier. Like you, I feel very ambivalent about all ‘progress’ – it’s happening, whether we like it or not. And some of it has been good…. I keep my fingers crossed that Mazamet won’t be overrun by developers!

    Liked by 1 person

    • The whole process is of course influenced by the locals… Authorities in southern Spain were all too happy to hand out building permits left, right and centre. Legal and illegal. I’m hoping things are different here 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • midihideaways
        December 14, 2016

        I’ve just been to a public meeting about the revision of the PLU, and it seems to be fairly strictly regulated here. Some people also get quite hot under the collar about it!! 😉

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Cary Vaughn
    December 15, 2016

    In an unrelated topic, last night I watched a documentary on Van Gogh and thought of you.


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