Sunday 21 April 2013

Paradise? Not quite. Part 1

Readers of this blog could easily perceive Aspiran as some kind of paradise. Here are 10 realities to balance such an assessment. Not all are negatives or gripes with several having experienced significant improvement in recent years. In no particular order, bar the first one, these are the first 5.

Dog s**t

Changing attitudes is the main challenge and nothing is being done. The Mairie stops at words. Providing poo bags and bins at key sites would be a first step; this is what towns such as Pézenas started doing a few years ago, although the reality of being a tourist town must help overcome politics.

A bigger challenge is to address the dogs let out to roam the streets all day.

Car parking
In a region where unemployment is well above the French national average, Aspiran is expanding and relatively prosperous; the school was recently extended for example. The growth of Montpellier and the completion of a fast connecting road makes the area popular for commuters so families typically need two or more motors. Everyone likes to park near their home and the French are masters at creative parking. Minimal anti-vehicle furniture and road paint on the streets and squares is an attraction, but for how long.

Empty properties

Houses in the central narrow streets may be quaint and ooze character but they have disadvantages. A lack of outside space and the challenge of winter heating makes new builds more attractive. Building a new home from scratch is also cheaper than renovating. Romantic village houses are popular with second home buyers but that market has dived since the 2008 financial crisis. French inheritance laws also mean properties can be left empty and decaying for years. On a more positive note plenty of renovation work goes on.


On balance this is a good news development. New housing is an essential reality of the modern world and a prosperous living village. When seen from the countryside the Mairie has done a pretty good job with sensitively locating new developments.

Rubbish and recycling

Ten years ago there were communal poubelles for all waste. Now big recycling containers are dotted around the village and each home is issued with a green bin for organic waste along with a black one for general rubbish. Many homes have no inside storage space so the bins live on the streets. Nevertheless, the system seems to work well although diligent recycling households lament at why the green bin is only collected once a week while the inert general waste is up twice weekly (for those with small bins). Fish stinks within 24 hours in 30 degree heat.

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