“Ah yes, it’s true that he is supposed to come…” Less than ten days before the scheduled visit of King Charles III and the Queen Consort to the Landiras sector (Gironde), affected by the forest fires in 2022, the event is far from disrupting the daily life of the inhabitants.
This Sunday morning, on the Landiras market, we are generally more concerned about the consequences of 49.3 decided by the government to pass the pension reform, than about this royal visit to Gironde on March 28. “Me, what I hope above all is that it doesn’t block the village for us! “says Dominique Kuntz, who runs the “Domi Paella” stand, and who says he is “absolutely not concerned” by the arrival of the King of the United Kingdom. “And what tells you that his coming will be maintained? », Launches a resident, worried about the social climate in the country.
“We will be notified at the last minute” thinks the mayor
King Charles III and his wife announced earlier this month a trip to France from March 26 to 28. They will first visit Paris, then Bordeaux on March 28, from where they must reach the castle on the same day. Smith Haut-Lafitte to Martillac for a tasting, then the Landiras area. According to the British Embassy in France, “His Majesty [viendra] observe the damage caused by the forest fires of last summer, and will listen to the testimonies of the rescuers and the local community”. Sensitive to environmental issues, the King wishes to go and see the effects of global warming on the spot. If the first Landiras fire was of criminal originthe extreme weather conditions had quickly made it uncontrollable.
The mayor of Landiras, Jean-Marc Pelletant, assures that he has for the moment “absolutely no information” concerning the organization and the protocol around this state visit. “I don’t even know if he is coming to Landiras itself, because the burned area is still very large and extends over several municipalities…” Some 22,000 hectares of forest had burned in July and August 2022, all around Landiras . “We will be notified at the last minute, continues the mayor, I think it is for security issues”.
It is a now devastated area that the royal couple will explore, marked by gaping holes in the middle of the forest – even if young pines have been replanted in several places – and mountains of cut wood waiting to be picked up on the side of the road.
“It is to his credit to come to the Landiras site”
Jean-Marc Pelletant says he is “very honored that during a State visit a great figure of this world is coming to see us. “His coming shows that these fires have marked the whole world, continues the elected official. There were reports in several countries, in the United States, in Great Britain, on the fire of Landiras. »
On the market, some locals also appreciate the approach. “Charles III is very sensitive to everything related to ecology, I think he is a good person and it is to his credit to want to go to the site of the fires”, appreciates Annette Lavigne . “It is very good that he is moving here, abounds another resident who prefers to remain anonymous. I don’t expect anything in particular from his arrival, but if it can challenge people to make them more respectful, and speed things up to unlock resources, so much the better, because we have seen during these fires that we lacked resources. The question of the assignment of two Canadair to the Gironde often comes up in discussions.
“A terrible memory” of these fires
In the village, we remain very marked by these fires, which had required the evacuation of several inhabitants. Angelina, who had just returned from the maternity ward after giving birth, remembers it very well. “We all have terrible memories of these fires, we were very shocked. “We live in the middle of the woods, we were at the heart of the fires, continues Dominique Kuntz. Today when I walk this road [la route principale qui traverse la forêt], I still have a lump in my stomach. »
Several residents, however, remain upset against “the management of fires by the government”. “We have been abandoned,” Annette coldly blurts out. “Fortunately the volunteers, the town halls, were there to feed the firefighters”, underlines Dominique, who went herself “to bring a hundred meals” to the firefighters. “The solidarity between the villages has been tremendous,” she underlines.
“We will have to remain very vigilant”
“This fire was unmanageable and lasted two and a half months,” recalls Jean-Marc Pelletant. And the mayor says he is worried before the return of sunny days. “The peat in the basement means that the fire has smoldered in some places for a very long time. Two weeks before Christmas we still had smoke coming out of the ground. After this winter’s drought, we will have to remain very vigilant. »
To shed some light on this gloomy picture, the elected official also points out that there is not only forest in his sector, but also vines, in the Graves appellation. “We have thirteen chateaux, and as King Charles seems a wine lover, we have planned to offer him a bottle of wine from each estate. »