Help please with the nuances

We had a meeting yesterday evening with the mayor. The state of the chemin that comes down to our property has been discussed since before covid, when work on it first started and then stopped and we had a change of mayor and we have (tactfully) been trying to get repairs done on something which is not our land and greatly affects the first impressions of our gite guests, not to mention playing havoc with the suspension of their cars.
The discussion was very encouraging. They have got two quotes and the more reasonable one is €4,600. At this point, the mayor introduced the verb “contribuer” and I understood him to be asking would we make a contribution. OH came away from the discussion assuming we would be paying the lot!
If they are hoping we would make a contribution, at no point was an amount / a proportion actually discussed/ asked for. Is this usual? Should we have suggested an amount? Have I misunderstood?
We have to have the work done and so we’ve all agreed the work will go ahead within the next month - which is wonderful.
Any thoughts please as to how/when we broach what our contribution will be and what they expect of us and what language to use? Thanks.

If it’s a public road/route then the commune pays. It is not for you to pay anything.

We’ve just had 400m of single track road resurfaced that serves our hameau of 4 houses (only two of which are occupied). It’s former condition sounds very like yours - it is now runway smooth :grinning: We have paid 0€.


It’s not (as far as I know from 12 years as a conseilleur municipal) normal to be asked for contribution, but I’m sure they wouldn’t say no to a voluntary bung.

We were in a similar situation when we ljved in the Creuse, our moulin was accessed by chemin over 1km long, cut into the valley following the river. About 30% was part of our commune and the rest (needed for access) belonged to the neighbouring commune. It needed repairing every year but I managed to broker a deal in which our commune paid for the materials (tout venant) and the neighbouring one paid for the labour and machinery. A personal contribution was never discussed (but I did give the cantonniers cold beers every end of day as it was hot)


Interestingly Badger, I believe that’s not always the case. On the cadastral maps our chemin is described as a chemin d’exploitation, which I believe then becomes the responsibility of the landowners on either side. They are farmers and never use the chemin, so no way will they maintain it.

Ours is a small commune and the total annual budget for road repairs is €7,000!

I’m just grateful that the mayor has shown willing to get this organised and assumed it’s a chemin rural. Certainly your observation strengthens our case for being seen as good neighbours if we do contribute. So thanks for the info

Thank you @Mark for your comment too


We have had a slightly similar situation her for many years. We share an entrance from the road with our good friends and neighbours, but it is rock which easily breaks up and fairly steep. I used to drive into it in first but at high speed to get over the loose bit but now drive in but instead of directly through our gate turn and reverse in. Much easier, engine weight over drive wheels accentuated to advantage by the slope.

Anyway, some years ago I noticed the commune, which owns this bit between us, laying some tarmac over the bottom couple of metres. I asked the mayor if they could extend to my gate and I would make a contribution to the cost. A blank no. No more said. I wince every time visitors, with less than expert skills, lose traction and cut up the area even more.

Has this been raised at previous conseil meetings and voted through? If so looking at previous meeting minutes may say precisely what has been agreed? If they have got the devis, and presumably will now sign one of them then, then legally they pay. ( ours are on our mairie’s website and stuck up on a notice board outside)

How did you respond when the word contribuer popped up?


If you wanted to be flippant, you could intimate that the “taxe de séjour” that you collect on behalf of the commune each time a paying guest stays at the gîte should have easily paid for the cost of the repair by now.

Chemins are varied…
I got it in the neck from the Receptionist at my Kiné place… when I went for an appointment a while ago…
She can be a horror, but we’d always got on well enough… huh… no more.
Seems she’s got a family property/ruin at the end of a chemin in our commune and wants the council to bring the chemin up to spec so her family can renovate/use the ruin …

I gently mentioned it to my pal (adjoint-maire) when we were out strolling… and was told that it was nothing to do with the council, but the responsibility of "those who use it… " or somesuch thing.

Hmm… I didn’t dare mention that answer at my next appointment, but she must have got the message from elsewhere as she still glowers at me, but says nowt… :wink:
I’m presuming/hoping she glowers at everyone from my commune, not just me… :wink:

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Why on Earth is she blaming you for the council’s inaction?

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How do you explain such folk… :wink: she glowers at so many folk… sad really being like that.
We do have a tiny woodland up the chemin… somewhere… never visited it in years and it’s no bigger than our kitchen… it’s left for the wildlife to use… (the copse not the kitchen…)

We wouldn’t want to pay… well not much… it would be for the landowners on either side… with their fields… to pay the majority… but they use other entrances…

We don’t. And we also want a good relationship with our mayor. There will come a day when we will be wanting to do work on our two properties and we want his endorsement. As we left, there was much smiling all round and we were complimented on our good French (if they think ours is good, what on earth do they get from other English people!) I’m beginning to realise that the balance maybe in our favour if we are prepared to contribute. It will reflect well on him as he can tell the counsellors he’s got our agreement for a contribution.
Wherever the rest of you live, if the commune pays for everything you are lucky! When we first moved here 16 years ago, we were told by the sellers that they, our neighbouring farmer and the mairie had each put a third into a kitty to pay for a steep bank to be shored up to stop the mud pouring down onto our drive during thunderstorms. (It was another two years after we moved in before the work was finally done.) The commune is poor, but solvent (one of the few) and that’s the way they do things here. If not, these jobs just won’t get done. We were getting to the stage where we thought we would have to do it all for ourselves, with no help from the commune.
Reading everyone’s comments, I think we’ve got a pretty good arrangement.


Because if it is a private chemin then nothing to do with the council. There are millions of rural chemin that are owned by the proprietors of the adjoining land - so can involve a large number of people if it passes by many different parcels of land. There are also millions that are owned by the local authority.

The only way of knowing is to check.

Yes, I understand that - what I wanted to know is, whether it is a public or private chemin, why she would think it was in any way Stella’s fault that the council were not interested?

Because it seems to defy all logic.

She may have had a cunning plan and @Stella let the cat out of the bag :face_with_hand_over_mouth:

It’s quite possible that I was the first person from our commune, with whom she came into contact after deciding to “do something” with the old family ruin… (not been lived in for about 50 years I believe…and tumbling down… )

and knowing that the Maire and his team are all personal friends of mine… perhaps she thought I might hold some sway … and/or have pockets stuffed with gold (which is how many folk regard Brits… ) :wink:

whatever, my pockets are empty and the council are certain it’s not their concern.

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As cunning as a fox who’s just been appointed Professor of Cunning at Oxford University?


The very Vulpe himself.


Our commune is completely disinterested in the state of the chemin d’exploitation that leads to our house, as they have repeatedly pointed out to both me, and the newly arrived neighbour, that it is a commonly owned private track. The farmers whose lands border the track, and who are legally responsible for its upkeep, are also uninterested in maintaining it, despite them still driving up and down it when it suits them. So, yes, you seem to have got a pretty good deal :+1: , short of the commune co-opting the track into the public road network.


so chemin d’exploitation is one sort of “unadopted road” as a council in the UK would call it, by the sound of things

Yes, I believe the stony avenue I lived in in Sothampton in 1948 is still in the same state. Perhaps someone closer knows? 82, Ethelburt Ave. Swathling. :thinking: