Notre-Dame des Landes: a place to defend (ZAD)

Notre-Dame des Landes has become very famous in France because many people illegally settle on this land to avoid the construction of a new airport near Nantes. They consider the poject totally unecessary and very expensive and also not ecological at all. So to protect the land, they decided to occupied it in 2008. So since many years they are fighting against to law and the police in hard conditions (cold, rain, mud) but they are still very engaged and motivated  ! As I was curious to discover this place, I went there for a few days  in November 2014…

I arrived by hitch-hiking with a very good friends. The last kilometers were the hardest, as if the local resident didn’t agree on the resistance, as it was clear we were going in the occupied area… Finaly, a car full of alcool and dogs took us to the “free zone”. We crossed many barricades on the way, made of all kind of weird things to arrive in the middle of a few caravanes.

The place is a lot wider than I immagines. Dozens of collectives settled in different part of the land in house often build in emergency with wooden palets. “La Chateigne” welcomed the visitors for a long long time, but now it looks like a gost city. So we ended up in “Youpi Youpi” who was inhabited at that time by migrants waiting to be able to reach England. They welcomed us with a warm tea and offered us a place to sleep near the wooden stove. The house wasn’t big but smartly built with recycled materials. It was one-storey house with a brandly new veranda, beautiful !

During 2 days, we went around the “free zone” to meet its inhabitants. We discovered various collectives and individuals: a young man with his dog living in a tree tour, a farm producing cheese, a bog collectiv producing bread for the whole zone, many community gardens, a flotting house… Many agricultural, cultural and political activities are organized avery week and advertize through a local newspaper. Every week, a non-market enable the inhabitants to get fruits, veggies, bread and cheese at a free price.

The tensions with the police are far away at the begining of this winter, but the battle isn’t over. Thestay positiv, the inhabitants are trying to imagine what could emerge on the land, if they won… The collectiv “Sème ta ZAD”, among others, invited various other collectivs to talk and think together about what could this “free zone” become in the futur. But the situation isn’t simple as some lands still belongs to agricultors, and some other agricultors would like to get back their land, and all the actual inhabitants of the free zone have very various ideas and visions of the place… For now, their are just trying to survive in the mud by isolating their houses as well as they can as the cold winter is coming.

And here are some picutres (just click on the picture):

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