Bergerac airport is in trouble

Seconded or is it thirded.

I'm with David and Andrew there. Spot on.

and so much more elequent than my reply but we're singing from the same hymn sheet, VĂ©ro ;-)

A good dose of reality there VĂ©ronique.

One of the problems Bergerac has is that it has a population of 30 000, le grand Bergerac is about twice that, in other words it is too small to be particularly dynamic especially since 40 minutes away there is Périgueux. Périgueux is not only the Préfecture so has virtually all the admin for the département but also has far bigger satellite communes meaning there is an incentive to set up businesses there and there are far more schools, collÚges,lycées and post-bac possibilities which encourage at least some young people to stay there.

I had a look at a list of English towns with similar populations and came up with Beverly, Deal, St Neots, Sedgeley (I can hear you say "where????") these are all places that actually have LESS going on in them than Bergerac does, but exist as dormitory towns eg Beverly for Hull & York & St Neots for Cambridge - the way things are going Bergerac is going to be a dormitory town for Bordeaux, it already is to an extent, just look at the development along the river from Lalinde to Libourne. But dormitory towns have their own set of problems. At the moment we are rather betwixt and between.

Bergerac is the 2nd town, size-wise, in a poor department - that is just reality, have you ever wondered why the Dordogne is so 'unspoilt' and pretty? Apart from geography, it is because nobody has ever really had any money to spoil it. (Just look at some of the truly hideous buildings put up in the 60s and 70s when they had a bit of money to splash...)

Bergerac actually has quite a lot going for it in theory BUT like many places doesn't have any significant industry apart from wine and even that employs people in the wider area, not really in the town. I don't think an economy founded almost only on services and non-essential retail can do well in times of economic crisis, simply because these are areas people where will cut back on spending. Probably the biggest employers in town are the EN and the hospital, ie the State, funded not voluntarily by people investing but through your taxes and mine...

If I look at Ste Foy La Grande, where I work, I have some data for my pupils' households and over 30% of them are from homes where NEITHER parent has a job. A good third: and these aren't retired people or rentiers, they are people in their late thirties to early fifties, they might like a job but there aren't any. That is a huge proportion: and these are pupils in Lycée who are likely to be in a more fortunate situation than pupils in other forms of post-collÚge education, or none.

Setting up a bijou business isn't going to work there because only a minority can afford to use it regularly and revenue will be sporadic & fluctuating while overheads will stay the same. What is needed is something that operates year-round like the canning factory or the late SNPE in Bergerac or on the other hand something producing high-value low bulk goods requiring skilled labour, which would bring revenue into the area. A lot of people from here with qualifications go & work in a bigger city because there are more opportunities for them now and they can't afford to wait for an upturn which would get them a job that would allow them to earn a living. Qualified young people who return usually do so to take over a family business eg a Notaire's Ă©tude, which is again a fairly niche thing.

Unqualified young people have no incentive to stay either because if you're going to be in a rubbish situation you can be in one more amusingly in Bordeaux or Toulouse, away from your parents, where casual work is easier to come by & so are drugs etc. if they want to set up that type of business.

The majority of my present pupils have never taken an aeroplane, many of them have never been abroad at all or even to Paris - the same goes for their parents, and making the airport itself more attractive, however it is done, isn't going to change that, there are other reasons for their not using it.

So I'm sorry if I seem flippant or insensitive about airport improvements but they do seem a bit of a first-world problem to me as a French person living here (rather than a foreign incomer): tourism is an important albeit seasonal source of revenue for a lot of people both local and expats but by no means for everyone, nor is it the primary source of revenue for many who use it to put a bit of butter in their spinach (and most of their clients don't use the airport, they come by car):

it isn't surprising that we see things diffently but good grief, sometimes we really don't seem to be living in the same world at all.

I'm perhaps being hard-headed, figure-minded because I've seen several other shops close in my town, fellow commerçants that are friends and I've seen them lose everything including their house when they thought they could wing-it and if they were optimistic and stuck with it etc. the it would all work out, well it didn't, unfortunately. Some parts of France are very cheap - why? - because there isn't much going on there, especially in terms of jobs and opportunities. This seems to be missed by many. The Dordogne was deserted by the French, done up by the English et al. and is lovely but it remains what it is - a beautiful rural backwater (no I don't mean that derogatively) It's never going to have the same economy as Toulouse or Bordeaux, to cite just the two closest big centres, and I suggest that most who bought there probably don't want it to be either! ;-)

Investment and sustainability must go hand in hand with the success of any particular venture. We all rejoiced when the administrators of Roumaniere took the plunge with flights coming in from all over the UK. We should not be too surprised that the airport struggles to balance the books for 5/6 months of the year.

Bergerac/The Dordogne is mainly a Summer destination, Chamonix/The Alps is mainly a Winter destination. Switch the flights and the support staff between the 2.

The support staff working in Summer holiday camps move to the Ski resorts in the Winter.


Incidentally, as an occasional reader/contributor of SFN pages, I have learnt a great deal from the contributors. Much appreciated.

So there we are.

There should always be hope and without as I said.....what is the point.

My business is ok too and many of my clients come to Paris and then fly to Bordeaux

as the venture from far away.People coming to my region very often fly to Bergerac

and all the flights are full.

There are good things which could happen at that airport if it

was managed well.

Figures change.Regions change, countries change.

I am sensitive ...and I can feel the sensitivity, and lack of which arrives on here.

And nothing really is "simples".

Don't be so touchy Barbara, no is mocking you and it's not a case of 'i'm all right Jack'. Facts are facts so if a business isn't working what's the point of keeping it going ? Maybe Bergerac town council need to change their approach to local businesses ? The bypass was a great and much needed innovation but it came with risks like any other town or village with a bypass. The clever councils make provision for this by making the centre a more attractive proposition to invest in or take the chance to convert old shops into social housing' for example. My town, Saint Junien was bypassed a good ten years ago when it was on the main road from AngoulĂȘme to Limoges thus taking heavy traffic on a daily basis. Our council has worked hard and the town seems busier and more prosperous than ever ! The local airport has grown as has the communities around it. Why should Bergerac be any different ?

You are not mocking me.

But there are some remarks which show lack of respect and at

times childish banter.

My thoughts are not shallow but they are not governed by facts and figures.

I feel that unless we move away from some traditional methods improvements

can not be a town. country or world.

Nobody is mocking, I think we are simply discussing and one or two people have questioned the way you phrase things.

What Peter has just added is indeed to the point. Perhaps it is the department itself unintentionally killing Bergerac and the airport by building the bypass. That entire La Cavaille area near the bypass is still growing, as too the Creysse shopping and business centre on the opposite side of Bergerac, together killing the centre slowly. Between them they are making it quicker to get to Bordeaux as well.

Most of us would regret losing the airport but if that is what happens a discussion between a dozen or so of us here is, unfortunately, not going to stop that happening. Ironically, airlines have been greedy asking for the subsidies that keep them operating in regional airports and then making small profits on top. No doubt the accountants will put their oar in and see the profits, reduce the subsidy and then we can wave goodbye to the airlines. So, it is not what we like but what we must live with.

So, yes you raised an interesting question that is pertinent to a few of us and it has been looked at as closely as all of us who are not experts can do, there are ideas of course, disagreements of course but nobody is mocking anybody, least of all you.

I don't know Bergerac intimitely but having passed through or by the town on a regular basis over the past thirty years the town does seem to have become less 'prosperous' over that time. Maybe the 'new' bypass, so eagerly anticipated by the travellers like myself hoping to avoid the interminable queues on sub-standard roads was the death knell ? I know that since the opening of the Hypermarket on the bypass (Intermarché ?) the cafeteria has been a regular eating place for me. I've been there often on a sunday lunchtime and have always been amazed at just how many local families eat there which isn't doing much for local in-town restos !

I came to France because it is special ....but with blemishes.

We all seem to be managing to Survive France and survive in general so....either

we are exceptional creatures or things are not as bad as we paint them?

I have educated myself to look away from pessimism and to move on from facts

and in they are not the only solution.

Many of you will have different ideas and about life and most of you will

not agree with me.

" I am all right....Jack" seems to part of this picture.

Bergerac airport will disappear in a puff of nonchalance.

I joined Survive France and I am still here regardless of those

who prefer to mock my views.

Spot on Andrew.

Barbara, it may be a bit 'healthier' your side of Bergerac but on this side shops, restaurants and other businesses are vanishing, usually because owners have gone broke. It is becoming a 'desert'. Take a serious look at Bergerac and see how many empty commercial premises there are. Locally, at least in Lalinde, there are many comments about the lack of decent places to eat. There are two closed, the best ones are very small anyway, but nobody wants to open any new ones because they only really do business between May and October, the rest of the year is hard to survive. Shops are the same. For a small town there are depressingly many commercial premises available to rent or just selling up all stock to close down. The economics do not work. Investing in a small airport that does not have the capacity to handle many more passengers or can afford to pay the airlines cannot resolve the dead months problems.

Again, that is not pessimism but realism. I am really sad to see businesses go but hear what people like our local baker say about overheads versus income...

don't go there, David...! :-O


What on Earth does this last mean?

Bodmin Moor?

Never been there but I get the idea that it is a little isolated....

Bergerac airport is not.

It is close to Bergerac itself which has a few residents and plenty of holiday

makers....yes, in the season.

Many of you talk about how dull it is to spend time in the airport.

It would not take an awful lot of money to change that an investment in

imagination and determination.

I agree that retail, and now catering does not seem to be the greatest

assets of our villages.

But when the young ones come out the lights go on.

They see life in a different way and we need to encourage this here in

France rather than showing them figures of doom and gloom.

Realistic a degree can be dangerous.

If we live with this attitude there will be no salvation.

I am of the same mind, especially the opening words. We live where we live Hilary, the Dordogne is not a rich department, in fact there are few of them. There is already Institut universitaire de technologie de Périgueux-Bordeaux IV in the department which covers your university and IT ideas. It also awards DUT (DiplÎme universitaire de technologie) in the Département d'Etudes Juridiques et Economiques and l'Ecole Supérieure du Professorat et de l'Education, plus BA and MA degrees in Développements touristiques. We have a prospectus that we have gone through with a couple of friends' offspring who are soon finishing lycée who do not want to leave home to study, simply because we are (were) academics. Unfortunately, as much as they might try, Bordeaux IV is not really attracting foreign students which is where real money is.

It is not for want of trying. Like everywhere else, there are established industrial areas of France, places where high tech is better placed and commercial centres. It is not pessimistic at all but pragmatic. PĂ©rigueux has tried just about everything but given the way departments have a fairly independent economy, even with regional and central government subsidies they cannot do much better. In the region Lot et Garonne and Landes need far more financial support anyway, therefore even conceptually prioritising the PĂ©rigord which so close to Bordeaux and Gironde is always a difficult proposition. That is reality for you.

Not really pessimistic, more realistic, so many things wouldn't work and you wouldn't suggest them on Bodmin Moor so why try them in the Dordogne...? OK a bit tongue in cheek, anyway Sophia Antipolis amongst so many other places for high tech, Toulouse and the Midi-Pyrénées for aeronautics, High tech plastic mouldings in the alpine valleys, I could go on...! BTW, all of the above would do very little for airport traffic - it seems to be there for british expats more then anything else ;-)