April 29, 2012

DIFFERENCES

4. Flowers and litter.

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A walk in the park at Descartes on Good Friday.

On most of our travels in France we have seen lots of flowers and not much litter.  In our part of the UK it is the reverse.

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Where are the plastic bottles and beer cans?

In our little corner of France, public areas are a riot of flowers every summer.  Parks, roundabouts, roadsides and village squares are planted with beautiful flowers and they are cared for so that they are a joy to see all summer.

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Flowers in the village square in Ligueil last July – no McDonalds cartons here.

The effort that goes into keeping the towns and villages looking beautiful is well appreciated by people like us.  In our part of the UK, flowers may be planted but they are left to their own devices and shrivel up through lack of watering in dry weather.  The planters and flower beds become dumping grounds for rubbish of all kinds, some unspeakably disgusting (I won’t elaborate), and nobody clears it up.

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Flowers in a planter on some railings in Loches.

In the town where I work, the planters and flower beds were robbed of their plants or vandalised year after year.  Now they are abandoned and are unattractive receptacles for rubbish amongst a few overgrown shrubs. 

The only flowers we have these days are provided as advertising by a local garden centre, in hanging baskets, very high up the lampposts where nobody can get at them.  The trouble is you hardly notice them either, without craning your neck.

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A splash of colour in Loches.

In our part of France people mostly seem to take their rubbish home.  If you see anything more than the odd scrap of paper or discarded bottle it’s quite unusual.  The streets are largely clean and roadsides tidy and well looked after. 

This is such a contrast to Derbyshire where rubbish is dumped everywhere.  You have to get a long way from any civilisation to find yourself not shuffling through food packaging and empty beer cans.  The roadsides are awash with litter, even in the countryside, and any areas provided for leisure purposes are often just filthy dumping grounds.  Some of it is the kind of stuff that people just drop as they walk along but there are also piles of rubbish that someone has obviously driven miles to dump there.

Sept 10 009

Rubbish dumped at a Derbyshire “beauty spot”.

I have always found it baffling why anyone should drive miles to dump stuff in a pretty part of the countryside when it must be just as easy to take it to the local tip and dispose of it properly. 

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The village square in Ligueil.  No bags of rubbish here.

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A display by the roadside at Descartes.

All over France we have seen that people seem to respect their surroundings so that public areas are made to look attractive and are kept well.  In the UK, whilst some effort is made to make ordinary towns look nice, there are too many people who either don’t care or are determined to spoil things. 

When it comes to a balance between flowers and litter, we find France much easier on the eye !!

24 comments:

  1. The flowers in every self-respecting village and town are one of the things we love about France. Even in September, when we visit, every public flower bed or planter still looks fresh and cared for.

    I am so sorry to read about the difference in the UK. No wonder your visits to France mean so much to you.

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    1. Carolyn, we love to see all the flowers everywhere, it's a total joy.

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  2. I'm with you Jean, but then I could just be a grumpy old man. Today I tripped over an empty plastic drink bottle dropped outside our local super market. Where I work, a new industrial estate, people leave their old furniture. Its because councils charge to dump rubbish.
    I remember riding or jogging the streets of Paris recently and seeing the street cleaners making sure their city was rid of rubbish. Pride is a quality to be appreciated.

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    1. Pride is what it boils down to I think, Leon.

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  3. I completely agree about the flowers and for the large part the litter problem is less in France.

    However, a difference that I notice is that there is a great deal more dog mess in France. Not in the pretty villages around us, but when I was in Le Touquet last week the paths and see front walk was covered with the stuff. I certainly see less at home now than I used to, and see many people walking their dogs and 'picking up'!

    It can be difficult to compare like with like but we live in a similar environment in the UK yo the one we live in in France. Although our village in the UK is always clean and tidy and regularly comes somewhere in the best kept village category, it doesn't have the floral extravaganza that is to be seen at LP-P!

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    1. Gaynor, it must be lovely to live somewhere in the UK where people do take pride in their surroundings.
      Where I live there are plenty of people who would like to see lovely flowers and clean streets but too many who don't care a jot. Consequently the councils don't plant at all in some areas as it's a waste of money and there are other things to spend it on.

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  4. We also always remark that certainly in our area of France, and driving down, it is so much cleaner than what we were used to in Oxfordshire and certainly far better than S.Africa.

    I also agree with Gaynor though that people do not clear away the dog mess here as they do in the UK, but even that was not perfect around us in Oxfordshire!! Diane

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    1. Diane, it's noticeable how not only the traffic improves, but also the cleanliness of the motorway verges and service stations, the minute you leave the port and head south through France.

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  5. I don't think French people are any better at taking their litter home than English, but French local authorities are more focused on tidying the place up. I also (having lived near a large landfill site in the UK) that refuse facilities are better managed here, so plastic bags and the like are not blown about all over the place. In France dog poo is certainly tolerated to a mystifying extent, with people not taking responsibility for their pets leavings. However, equally mystifying is the British habit of bagging up the poo and leaving it on the side of the track in the forest or hanging from a handy bush! Or most gross of all, tossing it in the gutter so the next car that parks there runs over the bag and bursts it!!

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    1. Susan, I agree with you, also Gaynor and Diane, the tolerance of dog poo in the streets of France is bizarre. And strangely out of line with their obvious civic pride.

      We have very little in our village, presumably because people have access to open areas to exercise their dogs. But it always amazes me that in towns people will walk their dogs through the streets and simply let them get on with it.

      It's most frustrating that you can't look at the scenery properly, but always have to have an eye on the pavement a few yards in front.

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  6. I agree with you that there are far more flowers and less litter in France than the UK. It's one of the things we notice when we come back home every September. I think one of the reasons for the lack of food-related litter in France is that fast food is not a way of life in small French towns and villages and indeed eating between meals or on the street is very unusual in my experience. Also having dechetteries easily accessible and free must reduce the temptation to dump bulky rubbish.

    I love the floral displays in even the smallest commune and the willingness of the local people to help keep them looking good. Our little market town does its best, but doesn't have space in the centre for any flower beds, other than on the roundabout, so it's a case of hanging baskets for decoration.

    The dog poo issue is definitely one area where France is lagging behind.....

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    1. Perpetua, you have the answer, I think. There is so much eating on the move and fast food that it creates a lot of rubbish and for some unfathomable reason people think it's perfectly acceptable to just toss it in the street or out of the car window.

      The dog poo issue is one of the few things I actually dislike about France. My other two hates were smoking in restaurants, which is now a thing of the past, and inconsiderate parking, although I think we are now just as guilty of that in the UK.

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    2. Jean, I avoided skidding on a discarded banana skin as I came onto the Loches by-pass this lunchtime... but there are a lot of Brits around at the moment!!
      A point to diary... we had a warm sunny evening today!!
      Rain gauge currently reading 70mm... last emptied last Sunday.... we hit a downpour just outside Vou and Ciran this afternoon [and stopped at the roadside until I could see to drive]... we want to plant our spuds!!

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    3. A banana skin? Do you get fruit in McDonalds now??!!

      As always your weather is just that bit better than ours - it stopped raining for a few minutes here but has started again now !!

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  7. I have also noticed the difference between France and the UK as far as litter is concerned. In the Lot the people just naturally pick up after themselves. Though one exception seems to be cigarette butts -- especially the lake where we go swimming. I have to say though that even there the problem is under control because the park personnel clean them up every day. As for dog poo -- not much of a problem in our towns -- probably because they live in the country and not in the towns ...

    Our town of Southport has had it's 'flower' budget cut back so much that after years and years of beautiful hanging baskets and floral displays throughout the town, now there is nothing.

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    1. Broad, I often wonder who pays for the planting and maintenance of all the flowers, but presumably it is thought to be a priority or it would no longer be funded.

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  8. Flowers are so much better than trash. Here in River City, "the system" is working hard to balance things out, but there is still a lot of rubbish in too many places. Plastic bags especially.

    Perhaps it is true that the French authorities are more persistent in getting things clean. Here, we are even getting serious about people picking up after their animals. Perhaps there is hope. Despite the fact we live in a throw-away society.

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    1. Bear, the problem is getting people to understand that litter is offensive and even a healh hazard. Too many people don't care about the appearance of their environment.

      I did wonder about suggesting a TV public information "advert" showing two gorgeous youngsters, walking along a clean street, using their mobiles, chatting, one tossing aside a Starbucks carton, gradually getting deeper and deeper in rubbish, up to their ankles, then up to their knees, then we see them coming out the other end of the street with all sorts of yuk stuck to them. There could be some kind of slogan saying if you throw it away, who is going to pick it up?

      Do you think it would ring a bell? Probably not !!

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  9. Litter!!! Hate it!! A lot of UK folk are just lazy and drop it casually for someone else to deal with. Whenever I go to France and Germany it is obvious that there is a massive difference in cleanliness. And I wonder why I want to move abroad...

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  10. The clean, well kept look is something I also enjoy about living in France, plus the way the villages are looked after, the roadside verges as well. But I like France in total, and would not want to live anywhere else!

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    1. Vera, I'm glad you agree with me, too !!

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  11. I can't compare because I haven't been to any part of the UK. BUT...there are some very messy corners of Provence, especially around the Marseille Marignane airport, that I think really need to get cleaned up. So many tourists come into Provence through here and that neighborhood has a lot of litter. It's true that once you get up into some of the small villages, it's neater, less trash, beautiful flowers...but we have a long way to go, especially here in the south of France with cleaning up our own backyard.

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    1. Meredith, maybe it's the difference between small villages and large towns again, plus the desire on the part of the authorities to keep the place clean. I haven't been to Provence in years but don't remember it being messy.

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