Hands off our plane trees.

France's beautiful asset.



2/25/20233 min read

There is nothing more delightful in the middle of summer than to drive through an avenue of plane trees in southern France as the intense sun filters through the leaves. Everywhere I go I I see enormous plane trees straddling the roads like benign giants. I pass them as I traverse our village, and follow them all the way into town. But the avenue that I love the best is on the outskirts of Montagnac. Sometimes I look up towards the dappled sunlight and feel as if I am in a vast cathedral, and feel thankful for Napoleon and all those perspicacious people who planted trees so long ago, not only by the sides of our roads but along the banks of The Canal du Midi too, so that others who follow can enjoy their shade.

Plane trees can be found all over the south of France ,in squares and parks...

Céret , dancing la sardaigne under the plane trees
Céret , dancing la sardaigne under the plane trees

...and lining our roads

But all is not well.

Plane trees are under threat from many different sources. Sadly a deadly fungus has been spreading amongst the planes on The Canal du Midi, and over the past decade we have seen mass felling of these iconic trees. But thankfully replanting has been going on at the same time , and 54 million Euro has been dedicated to replacing the planes with trees such as oaks, lime and white poplar.

Plane trees once lined The Canal du Midi
Plane trees once lined The Canal du Midi

Fortunately the fungus that has affected the plane trees of the Canal du Midi is waterborne, and we have seen many healthy plane trees continuing to grow in canal side villages. However the regular pruning of roadside trees that we see every year can introduce a canker that is also a threat . Even more alarming are the so called road safety campaigners and motorcyclist groups who advocate cutting down certain roadside trees. They claim that dangerously positioned trees cause too many deaths. As if speed had nothing at all to do with it.

But what's this?

On our way into town we witness a distressing sight. It would seem that some people are treating our plane trees with disregard. Someone has painted the trunk of one tree to mark the hidden entrance to a large roadside house. How dare (s)he. However artistic it may appear, this is vandalism. The bark of the plane tree is a beautiful, living thing. Further into town, where the entrance to a sideroad is guarded by two giant plane trees, each one has been daubed with orange paint to direct visitors. Is that really necessary?


...to all those would be daubers of fluorescent paint , be it on the rocks in our forest, or anything else in the natural world ...