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City puts abandoned tombs up for auction

Roubaix, in the Nord, will sell four sites in its cemeteries in an online auction with prices starting at €1 - but there's a catch...

It's a story worthy of Hallowe'en - four abandoned tombs in the Nord city of Roubaix are to be sold in an online auction, with prices starting at just €1.

But there's a catch for prospective graveyard property owners - all four tombs have suffered over the years and require tens of thousands of euro spending to renovate. Anyone who buys them will commit to a renovation programme, and to maintain the monuments for a minimum of 30 years.

Local officials said that they have decided to put the crypts up for sale in a bid to preserve the city's heritage. "The goal is heritage conservation and on-site renovation. Some communes have destroyed their chapels. We have made the choice to protect them," Alain Vantroys - who is in charge of the sale - told news agency AFP.

The date of the online auction has not yet been decided, but officials say that they have already had some interest in the sites, and some possible buyers have visited the tombs.

Officials described this sale as 'a test', indicating that they may be willing to sell on other abandoned tombs in future if this auction is a success. Since the 1990s an estimated 50 memorial structures have passed into the local authority's hands and declared abandoned following exhaustive searches for possible heirs. The coffins they contained have long since been removed.

This is not the first time that Roubaix has opted to sell property cheaply. Last month it unveiled a scheme to sell rundown and empty houses for as little as €1 to buyers willing to renovate and live in the properties for a minimum period.

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