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Submitted by Oliver

French Ghost Village


About three miles west of the main Paris airport, Charles De Gaulle, is Goussainville, a fairly large town (population 30,000). This was largely developed from the 1960s and is a typically uninteresting suburb. Immediately to the south is a place called Vieux Pays, which translates as ‘old settlement’, for this is indeed the site of the original village, a place which is mentioned back in 831 !

Today, it is a dead end with a couple of streets becoming tracks leading into fields. Indeed, although only about twelve miles north of Paris city centre, the place was quite rural until relatively recently.

When Paris-CDG airport opened in 1972, it just so happened that Goussainville-Vieux Pays was exactly under the flightpath. The noise was so unbearable that most people left and today, only a few diehards — including, amazingly, a farmer — now remain. The airport authorities, however, were forced by decree to buy the houses and, theoretically, look after them as the village centre is considered a historical monument, because of the church which dates mostly from 1559.

In practice, the whole place has become very run-down. Some buildings (including a 19th century manor) are under threat of demolition, although the church, currently disused, is being restored.

Now that the local authorities have retrieved the buildings, there are vague plans to turn the whole place into a sort of artists’ community (painters, sculptors...) although this hardly seems feasible.

So today, half-deserted, as if fossilised and stuck in a sort of pre-WWII limbo, you have a very eerie place indeed !

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