Montsouris: The Last Farm In Paris

In Paris, next to where we live in Denfert Rochereau, over the catacombs, there used to be a “farm”. Don’t misunderstand me, it wasn’t a farm with meadows and fields all around, more like a milk shop with cows in the back yard; I can imagine, the smell and the filth, this must have been a sight. For the past 50 years or so, the building has been closed and a battle has taken place between those who want to restore it as is and those who want to build an 8-storey block of flats with an underground car-park. As usual in that kind of situation, none of the 2 sides are right or wrong, it’s just that they are firmly opposed to one another and – in a very Gallic way – none of the two sides will budge from their position. Opponents contend that the medieval quarry underneath is a landmark but it’s also a very dangerous place which led to the destruction of many buildings in the very street where these people are standing and the death of quite a few people in one of the most deadly quarry collapses at the end of the nineteenth century. None of the stories are right or wrong, things aren’t black or white, they are black and white at the same time. The result of this wanton feud is simple, we don’t get a farm, nor a new building, nor a new cultural centre as was once proposed. We get nothing but a derelict building which will end up collapsing probably, one day. Both sides will be losers. We’ll all be losers and will miss an opportunity of doing something good with what is an extraordinary large plot of land at the very heart of the City.
Outside the farm, a fistful of opponents to a real estate project on the plot of the Farm ; a project which will probably never come to life
The throng gathtering to protect the building or what’s left of it
Dufresne, the leader of the opposing movement in Gallic resistance mode; he is a painter and has gained fame in that battle, being in touch with many politicians from all sides and interviewed by the Press every now and then
Don’t touch my bottle!
Dufresne briefing the Press

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