Two days ago we drove back into our village after a hike (within a 10km radius) and were horrified to see some tree surgeons cutting down all the willows on our side of the Lot. This self-righteousness continued over the following days and I made sarky observations about the French desire for visual control of the environment - pollarded trees, the Tuileries etc, versus an English (not British!) regard for the ‘natural’ - parodying yet empathising with C18th Edmund Burke who contrasted the ‘natural’ evolution of English law and contemporary aesthetic crazes such as the Picturesque with the abrupt changes occuring in post-Revolutionary France.
However, today the tree fellers reached the line of willows in front of our house and these disappeared within a couple of hours. There followed two realisations, firstly, we now had a much better view of the Lot and secondly, photos of the view from Easter 2012 didn’t show any trees along the river bank.
Conclusion; I think the willows just get coppiced every ten years and this has nothing to do with French public space, love of military parades, or the Tuileries.
Instead of theorising, will just enjoy the new (old) view.