Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Landelles et Coupigny, France

Back in the Spring we decided to re-visit Lower Normandy and Brittany in northwest France to fill in some gaps left following previous trips. We took a ship from Florida to Dover, England, disembarked a day early in Cherbourg, France, picked up an SUV and drove south to our first base, Landelles-et-Coupigny. 
See Slideshow
In 1789, the year of the French revolution, it is estimated that there were as many as 60,000 parish churches in France making them one of the most commonplace durable landmarks. The parishes were generally quite small even at that time but, following the extensive population migration to the cities in the 20th century and steadily declining church attendance, thousands of rural and small city churches are now unable to sustain themselves. There were at least three national legislative attempts in the 20th century to compel the merging of adjacent moribund communities but they were strongly resisted for obvious reasons. 
See Slideshow
The villages of Landelles and Coupigny, were ahead of their time in this regard and actually merged around the time of the revolution at which time each village had a population just more than 1,000. Over the ensuing 2 plus centuries the population of the merged villages increased to more than 3,000 in the 1960's but has since dwindled to less than 900. In recent decades, thousands of such small communes have been clumped into local communities of communes which essentially manage the provision of services such as water and trash pick-up. Inevitably however, with church attendance now at just 11% and urbanization nudging 80% the demise of tens of thousands small parish churches is only a matter of time. Visit them while you can! See slideshow.

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