This is one of the examples of the territorial divide in France. Ugny, a small village in Meurthe-et-Moselle with fewer than 750 inhabitants, is one of the faces of desertification in the countryside.
>> As part of the municipal election campaign, Nathalie Levy’s Big Evening News is relocated this Monday to Ugny in Meurthe-et-Moselle, in one of the thousand cafes concerned the operation which aims to revitalize the communes by opening or taking over cafes in outlying municipalities of less than 3,500 inhabitants.
How is this phenomenon manifested? By the lack of shops, the absence of doctors or by the wayward mobile network. Faults that complicate the daily lives of residents. Bernard, 66, one of the village elders, says he is particularly embarrassed by the lack of doctor in Ugny. “The big problem we have is that we had a doctor and he went to Luxembourg. They all go there. So we don’t have a doctor now,” he says. at the microphone of Europe 1.
Coffee as a driving force
In twenty years, the population of Ugny has grown from 500 to 750 inhabitants. If the arrivals of new inhabitants energize the village, another event gives hope to the inhabitants: the opening of a cafe. For the mayor, Robert Bourguignon, who is the initiator, this coffee is a necessity. “It is not enough to have new inhabitants. We must try to integrate them into the life of the town. If we want to bring them, coffee is important, it is a place of conviviality where we can find, “he says.
Amanda Gargano, manager of the Rest’o Bar, which will open its doors on Sunday, already has lots of ideas for making her coffee a place of exchange and sharing. “It is a multi-service cafe where I want to bring people together, cook simple but good dishes for them, surround myself with local producers and organize events (karaoke, lotto, belote),” she explains.
If this trade is going to be able to be born, it is because Ugny is one of the communes selected by the SOS Group, an association which launched the operation 1000 coffees. The goal: to encourage rural communities with fewer than 3,500 inhabitants to open cafes for a total of 1,000 establishments of this type on the territory.
An isolated rural France
For specialist Jeremie Peltier, director of studies at the Jean Jaures Foundation, the example of Ugny is not isolated. “Half of the French live in municipalities with less than 10,000 inhabitants. Among them, 40% live in municipalities with 1,500 inhabitants,” he explains. According to him, the creation of a cafe heralds a new impetus for Ugny, and all the others who embark on such a project. “A cafe allows you to recreate social cohesion, places to live in communities that may feel isolated,” says Jeremie Peltier, who recalls that “car addiction” is sometimes difficult for the inhabitants of these small towns.
Because for the specialist, there is no doubt, Ugny is a victim of desertification. “We are at the heart of what France is because we have a sentimental history with our villages. France has long been associated with a rural universe. The small town was a place of roots with local figures : the mayor, the parish priest, the teacher and the doctor “, analyzes Jeremie Peltier.