Saturday, 20 April 2013

Paradise? Not Quite. Part 2

This is Part 2 with realities 6 to 10 that challenge the perception of Aspiran as some kind of paradise. Not all are negatives or gripes,  a few have seen significant improvement in recent years.

Demise of the wine co-operative

The wine co-operative was, and to a lesser extent still is, as important to the local economy as coal mines to mining communities. The number of members has declined; the young move on and many have taken EU payments to grub up their vines and plant other crops. The co-op still receives the grape harvest but the juice,  along with that of many neighbouring villages, is tankered off to the state of the art winery at nearby Puilacher to make Clochers et Terroirs. Some nearby co-operatives still go it alone and do well - Addisan, Cabrières and Fontès to be specific.
On the plus side there are six independent producers established in the commune.

Dead vineyards

The use of chemicals on vines such as weed killers belongs in a bygone era. The vineyard above has compacted ground and supports little life beyond the deep rooted vines. The picture below is an adjacent vineyard photographed at the same time.

While organic or equivalent practices involve a little more work,  the bio-diversity they encourage makes visiting the paysage a delight. This is actually a good news story as the rise of independent vignerons is resulting in more and more healthier looking vineyards.


Scooters are noisy and pollute heavily but do provide affordable private transport for the young. Screaming round the village streets for the hell of it is something else.

There are winters

Mediterranean winters are short and mild, but this is a northern outpost of the Med and the 750m plateau of the Larzac to the north is nearer than the sea. Most winters see a day or two of snow and in 2012 unprotected outside water meters froze with many needing replacing. Residents stay indoors and the village is seriously quiet.

Aircon units - the new TV aerials

TV aerials and satellite dishes are generally roof mounted so invisible from the narrow streets. Gutters and drainpipes at least help keep the rain off pedestrians and façades.

Reversible air conditioning has become all the rage in recent years and for many homes this means mounting them on the outside street-side walls. At least modern units are quiet.

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