No … “La Creuse is not the asshole of the world”

Long mocked, often belittled, Creuse takes his revenge. For decades, Creusois has heard of their department as a desert. Often prejudices from those who had never set foot there. An image that is hard to bear but changing. Original article published on 30/09/2021.

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Change the image of the department. Or rather, fix it. For decades, Creusois went down to it, but prejudices die hard, and even the most promising slogans did not resist, such as. “Holiday in Creuse, happy holiday“, mocked “Holidays elsewhere, better holidays.”

Tendency

Except that today, vacations in Creuse would be trendy. As can be seen from the tourism metals. During the summer of 2021, furnished homes and gîtes de France were sold out in the department.

A trend which is also confirmed by the establishment of new inhabitants. For although the natural balance in Creuse is always negative, that is, there are more deaths than births, the traction balance is positive. There are therefore more new inhabitants than departures. A movement started ten years ago, and reinforced by the health crisis and the desire of many city dwellers to live in the countryside.

That’s what real estate agents have seen, with an increase in transactions. Properties that have been for sale for several years are finally gone, one of them told in January last year.

The world’s asshole

And the movement does not seem ready to wither, as evidenced by the calls and comments on the Facebook group in the name taking up one of the many clichés about the department “La Creuse is not the asshole of the world”.

In early September, a couple from Pas-de-Calais speak. With their child, the parents want to move to Creuse. They defy the clear opinion of their friends or colleagues (“La Creuse? But you are crazy !!”) and seek information about the department. They want experience. And they have. 250 comments. But are they all really objective?

Creuse’s fragile health

First concern: access to care.

With 318 doctors per. 100,000 inhabitants, Creuse remains a medical desert according to the criteria of the Ministry of Health. A territory is considered a “medical desert” when the density of doctors in relation to the population is 30% lower than the national average. In Creuse, the density was 41% lower in 2019.

Although some health professionals are starting to establish themselves in Creuse, such as liberal midwives, absent from the area 20 years ago, finding an appointment with a specialist is often an obstacle, and the people of Creuse often head towards Limoges or Clermont-Ferrand.

Finding a dentist can also be complicated and the situation does not get better: of the 43 practicing dentists, nine are over 65 years old. In Felletin, one of them retires within the next few days, he will not be replaced.

For pharmacies, the department has had 58 since Thursday, September 30, 2021, when Mainsat has just closed its doors for good. No improvement is expected.

But the hope for a more comprehensive medical drug is still possible. The seduction of the various policies seems to work little by little, especially with the establishment of medical centers. In ten years, the number of doctors per 100,000 inhabitants has increased by 13.6% in Creuse, according to the National Council of Physicians.

Occupation

The fear of settling in Creuse and not finding a job is real. Especially when you think Creuse is a great desert. First of all, doctors, physiotherapists, nurses … are welcome, and the municipalities or communities often give them a golden bridge by welcoming them into new and equipped practices, such as Audrey Gavoille, a young osteopath who has lived in Ahun for almost a year.

Some municipalities also offer hostels, grocery stores, turnkey bakeries, with affordable rents, this is the case in Sardent, and CCI shows shops for takeover, hair salons, clothing stores, garages … 67 offers are thus available.

Self-employment is highly represented in Creuse. According to INSEE figures, per. 31 December 2013 out of the 41,200 jobs in the department (1.8% of the region as a whole) 8,400 self-employed, ie. every fifth job, it’s the highest percentage of New Aquitaine.

This is mainly due to the weight of agriculture, which accounts for almost 12% of total employment. La Creuse has almost 4,400 farms, of which three quarters are oriented towards the production of beef cattle.

From kindergarten to high school

Are there any training courses in Creuse? The question is recurring and arises in many rural areas.

So yes, Creuse has schools, 151 public schools and 3 private ones.

The staff relationship, ie. the number of teachers per 100 students, is the 3rd best in France, after Cantal and Lozère, due to geography and distances.

Among the 19 high schools, six have a boarding school. The smallest is in Crocq, in the eastern part of the department. 113 students go on it from 6th to 3rd year, and it shows one of the best results of the academy at DNB, the patent.

There is also training after the 3rd or post-baccalaureate.

A cultural desert

A cultural desert? Those are words you should never say in front of Creusois. A magazine ventured there, with a more than provocative title about Guéret “dung or life,” an article filled with ease, precisely because it only conveyed prejudice.

And the backlash was quick: a Facebook page, Creusois vs. Technikart led by Lily la Fronde and elected officials stepping forward. The magazine ends up apologizing.

Because to think that Guéret and Creuse look like a cultural desert is heresy. In the department there is a national theater stage, one of the smallest in France, in Aubusson, and also the tapestry town in the same town, Guérétoise de spectacle, in Guéret, Yves Furet cultural center in La Souterraine, which broadcasts its shows in the small surrounding towns … eg.

There are also small venues, such as the Parqueterie in Fresselines, or the associative café L’Espace in Flayat, which hosts around 40 concerts each year … and even Manu Chao!

Not to mention the many events, such as Bistrots d’Hiver, on the Millevaches Plateau, Chek in Party, the Lézard Vert Festival in Fursac, the La Naute Festival …

Until tomorrow

La Creuse is therefore far from an immobile department where nothing happens, and little by little the citizens, the associations, the elected representatives change this image of the “asshole of the world”, which the department has long been stuck in.

For example, Creuse today serves as a model for its third places, especially for the Tela network, which has collected six of them for 3 years. This is the first branch network of third places in France.

La Creuse also serves as a precursor for the cultivation of therapeutic cannabis, especially thanks to farmers seeking to innovate, or for home automation, a sector motivated by part of the high age of the population.

For yes, the population is old and the department sparsely populated. The lowest density is 5 inhabitants per km2 in Gentioux-Pigerolles.

Disadvantages that become a strength.

What if yesterday’s prejudices became tomorrow’s assets?

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