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No room for disputes at France’s smallest mairie

When the local council of one village in northern France meets in the mairie, everyone gets... close.

A full municipal council for the pretty commune of Saint-Germain-de-Pasquier in the Eure, Normandy – population 140 – is 11, and they all have to fit into the mairie, which is just eight square metres.

It’s the smallest in France.

Mayor Laurence Laffillé told Connexion: “It makes for a good atmosphere, and because everyone is so close physically, people do not get cross.

“But when we draw up lists of candidates, we tend not to have anyone too large!”

The village got its unusual mairie in 1905, when the Catholic Church, charged with looking after a small chapel put up in the 1850s, decided to sell it as a result of a new law which set out the responsibilities of the church and the state.

“The mayor at the time saw the possibilities and made sure it was the commune which bought it and converted it into the mairie,” said Ms Laffillé.The chapel was built right next to a holy spring, dedicated to Sainte Clotilde.

Water from the spring was famed for curing sick children and helping adults with mouth and skin problems. The Church built the chapel with a bath filled with running water from the spring, as its fame grew and it attracted pilgrims.

The bath was removed when the building was deconsecrated, and the spring now rises in a garden at the back of the mairie.

Fully equipped with a telephone, internet and other office equipment, the mairie is staffed two days a week.

The only disadvantage is when people want to get married in the village. “We have the mayor, the happy couple and one or two of their friends and relatives, no more,” said Ms Laffillé.

“Everyone else has to be outside and can listen at the door – which is fine unless it is raining.”

See also: Green is buzzword for France’s local elections


Polling day drags on in village with eight voters

Election days in one French village are a bit of a drag – there are only eight people on the electoral roll, making it the commune with the smallest voting population in France.

Rochefourchat, in Drôme, has only one permanent resident. The others on the roll are members of the municipal council and all part-time residents.

Mayor Jean-Baptiste de Martigny, a lawyer in Paris, said: “We have to keep the voting office open from 08.00 to 18.00, even if everyone has voted – which in our case never happens because there is someone on the list who never votes.”

He was offered the job in 2008, two years after he bought a holiday home in the village, when the former mayor retired.

With the legal minimum of four councillors, meetings are held in the municipal gîte, usually with a meal.

Like many places in the south of France, the population explodes in summer, when as many as 40 people spend time there.

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