Last year Saint Saens inaugurated its brand new sewage works. At the cost of over one million euros, this was an occasion worth marking, both for local politics and for the surprisingly high tech gadgetry which modern sewage works depend upon.
As usual the mayor was in good spirits as more than fifty people gathered amidst vast vats of raw and half treated waste matter which gurgled and bubbled as it was being pumped, filtered, aerated or in some way processed.
The old perception, certainly once justified – that rural France lags well behind in matters of sanitation, and other services, was elegantly demonstrated as being out-dated.
As the mayor explained, the new sewage works is a response not only to the weary state of the old treatment plant, but to current European standards and to concern for the well being of trout and salmon which still make their way upstream in the beautiful Varenne river.
Declining the offer of “a verre” in the environs of sewage, I made my way home to a bottle I had previously opened in anticipation of the dry throat the formalities of such an occasion in France – always produce.
“Monsieur le President of this, Monsieur le President of that, Monsieur le Vice president of whatever, Monsieur le Maire of ….., Madame le Adjointe maire………”
There can be a charming politesse to such ceremonies, but in a previous commune I know, these generous salutations were less a signal of good manners than a blatant gesture by a sycophantic mayor to demonstrate the reach of his political authority.
In these circumstances it is essential to have opened a bottle of wine beforehand, and to make good use of it.
My best wishes,