Future of small towns, villages, communes in France?

We bought our house in a hamlet of four houses with the intention if using it as a holiday home and then renovating it and retiring here.
The farm next door, in a very run down state, has been bought by the grandson and the family have helped to renovate it. He is a doctor in Dijon starting training to be an orthopaedic surgeon.
The house behind us is in the process of being sold to a young family from Lyon as a holiday home. The father’s parents are also from Lyon but live as retirees here and the husband is an adjoint to our Mayor.
My friend has also sold to Lyonnais, but this will be a third home for them.
We also have young families moving into the village, but our little area is sought after for its magnificent views.
A mixed bag.


The arrival of the LGV at Bordeaux and the planned modernisation of Line 26 Bordeaux -Sarlat promises to advance our local economy. We’re a very small commune but have seen the reconstruction of three houses and the building of two more in the last five years. You could ask to see the PLU, Plan local d’urbanisme for your commune/ Communauté des Communes (CDC) I’m sure the Maire would be only too happy to show it to you.


Agree with @davidgay that the PLU is the place to start. You may well find that a lot is available on line from your local Marie or nearby town’s Marie. In our case we are a very small commune, so the planning information is on the Town’s website.



You can also usually find minutes of local council meetings on the website (ours are) so you could spend half a day or so looking back through those, and it should give you an idea of what issues the place is facing and what ideas get discussed. Especially the meetings held in the spring of each year, around now in fact, when the annual budget is set. Also the local papers are a good source of information, they often have articles about the concerns of residents. You could even read the beginning of January editions going back a few years when they usually report on the Voeux du maire, which is a public speech most (all?) mayors make at the beginning of each year, taking stock of how things are going and outlining plans for the coming year. All kinds of ways of finding info so that if/when you do approach the mayor directly, you’ll sound as if you’ve done your research - you can ask how this or that initiative is coming along.


Our reasonably isolated commune on the PNR Millevache is striving to keep the population at between 180 - 200 adults. It is currently about 170. We (the commune) have a housing stock of 12 propertias for rent, 4 of which are brand new and we encourage renting to young families with children in order to keep the school open and with the hope that at least some will stay long term as much of the population is 70 and over.
Local and national government want us to close the school, which we stringently oppose and every year have to justify it’s existence and supplement it’s funding using commune assets. Currently we have about 35 children in the school up to age 11 (was 17 in 2003).
So, although we are probably doing as much as possible to keep our commune alive, there is always the battle against higher government whom I sometimes suspect would prefer everyone to live in bigger towns.


Man the barricades Mark… :relaxed:

Like you, we fight constantly to keep our school. Lose the school and you lose the “beating-heart” … is how local folk view things…


My commune has a primary school but it is further from my house than another in the neighbouring commune and a couple in the local town. It seems to be thriving however possibly due to the policy of encouraging new build housing in that part of the commune while cutting back on permissions in my part.

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Thank you! I did not know this and as a result of your suggestion, I asked and was allowed to look at the PLU; in fact, I was allowed to use an empty meeting room with a large table on which I could spread out all the maps, etc. It’s online too, so I can look that way as well but the physical version was great to get to pore over, if that makes sense. Actually much easier to compare the different maps that way, etc. Anyway. Really helpful. Cheers.

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Jane, thanks very much. I appreciate the link as well.

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Ann, thanks very much. So far, I’ve looked at the bulletin boards and read notices posted there and now per your advice I will delve into the minutes and so forth online; should be able to find these on the mairie website, so will look there. Onward. I appreciate your guidance.

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every town or village, even the smallest should have some plan for how they see the commune develop.

With some of the small communes they they might have a plan drawn up in conjunction with other communes.

It may be that it only covers what sectors are constructible, designated as agricultural or industrial.

The mairie may even have a plan for the future of the communes school, although many are under threat in the rural communes due to the ageing population and the drift to the suburbs.

Whether it is considered impertinent or not will be down to the Monsieur/Madame le Maire. But usually questions phrased in the right spirit will be answered the same way.

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I just found an interesting, 20-year-old article from The Independent: “The Death of the French Countryside” at:

Anyone have any thoughts, perhaps?

Hi Mary… my immediate thought was to checkout the Website for Vallieres and find out how things stand in 2018… 20 years down the line.

Looks as if they pulled themselves out of the mire and doing quite nicely… although no-one in the countryside should ever be complacent. :relaxed::upside_down_face:

The Website is full in interesting information… worth a good rummage…:slight_smile:


I should add that I was horrified to hear that our school was “under threat” 2 years ago…

Then a neighbour whispered to me that it had been “under threat” for more than 40 years… back to when her own children were attending… we must remain vigilant and firm if we wish to preserve our rural life … she warned me… and I reckon she was/is quite right.

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Valliere is a pleasant medium sized commune not far from me, on the edge of the PNR Millevache. Its got shops, boulangerie, pharmacy etc!!!

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Seems that perhaps, your response and Stella’s suggest that 20 years has made a wonderful, significant difference in the health of Villieres, if indeed as that old article suggested, it was on the downswing back then.


I feel rather hopeful, for some reason, after receiving your responses to this older article. :slight_smile:

Mary… if you want to research a bit… to be somewhat up to date…

Google the place-name and check the various bits and bobs…always something of interest to be found.

The Mairie website will give certain aspects… and then go onto tourism etc etc… :relaxed::relaxed:

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Thanks Stella. Of course, that makes sense. Posting here is part of my ongoing research; don’t mean to make it look as if my questions are meant to ask for complete answers from others… Perhaps my questions and posts sometimes do seem that way. :slight_smile: Will try to pay more attention. Cheers.

Keep asking the questions Mary… always happy to add my twopenn’orth of ideas … really enjoying hearing about your French “possibilities”…:relaxed:

It is a nuisance if a place does not have a website… but then, the local-newspaper websites can offer some hope…on occasions. :grin::grin:

Our commune is too small to have a webpage and the papers are not interested in printing our local stuff… so it looks as if our last “happening” was the Mayor’s Speech at the beginning of January. Anyone researching us… will think us real dead-ends indeed…:upside_down_face:

I’m thoroughly enjoying your search for just the right place, for you… :relaxed::relaxed::relaxed:

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I found an article about the 222 towns that France has designated to ‘rejuvenate’.

See this link… Mary… :wink:

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