Châteauneuf-du-Pape extends UFO ban

Why the maire of Châteauneuf-du-Pape has no plans to end the 62-year ban on UFOs in the commune. 

19 February 2017
By Jane Hanks

A ban on UFOs has now been in force in the French commune of Châteauneuf-du-Pape for 62 years.

Indeed, no visitors from other planets have landed there, which is “no doubt due to the ban”, said Anthony Avon from the Mairie de Châteauneuf-du-Pape, in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region.

The 1954 law, which is still valid today, forbids the ‘flight, landing and take-off of aircraft known as flying saucers or flying cigars, whatever their nationality, throughout the commune.’

In French, soucoupes volantes are also known as cigares volants. However, whether saucers or cigars, the ban states that if they try to land in Châteauneuf-du-Pape they will be impounded and offenders will be officially warned by local police.

The idea behind the saucer/cigar moratorium was really to create a buzz around the wine from the area, Mr Avon explained. Châteauneuf-du-Pape is famous for its red wine, and almost all its cultivable land is planted with vineyards.

Lucien Jeune, who was mayor of Châteauneuf-du-Pape in 1954, came up with the headline-grabbing notion decades before the birth of the internet.

“It worked very well,” said Mr Avon. “We are still getting queries from journalists 62 years later.”

To put the ban in context, in 1954 the world was obsessed with space travel; with putting a man on the moon, and with UFOS.

“There were many sightings all over France,” said Mr Avon. “Lucien Jeune went to a wine fair in Paris and noticed everyone was talking about UFOs. He came up with the ban as a way of drawing attention back to the commune and its vineyards.”

The current mayor of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Claude Avril, has said he has no intention of taking down the ban.

“I won’t be touching it,” he told France Bleu. “It’s good to spice things up. We are creating a buzz in a harmless way. Nobody is fooled.”

It is the only ban of its kind in France, Mr Avon said, and added: “It must be taken in context and with a sense of humour.”

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