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France profonde

Village festivals are increasingly important in rural France. They bring tourists and money, but they also restore pride to small towns which have lost so much else

By Tim King   July 2007

In summer, France profonde changes. From a dwindling winter population of 60, my village, lost in the hills, swells to many times that number as families trek down from the cities to their résidence secondaire—the house where dad or grandad grew up, then left at 18, desperate for work. The shopkeepers in small rural towns depend on these two months as the wage-earning natives return and feed their memories with local gastronomic delicacies. Oh the joys of country living! The children amuse themselves with their cousins, trawling the river or popping beetles with a magnifying glass, but what about the…

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