Two towns in Savoie have been carrying out Christmas tree collections this week using a special hippomobile, or horse-drawn carriage.
The local authorities of Chambéry and Aix-les-Bains have been collecting trees in this way for several years, in a bid to reduce their carbon footprint and to raise awareness of the climate crisis among residents.
Over the past week, horses have drawn a trailer through both towns, picking up trees – without decoration – left for them at specified collection points by residents and taking them to be composted.
In this way, the towns create a natural cycle, from the moment residents go to the nearby countryside to choose their tree to the moment that the trees are collected by horses and returned to the earth.
“It is a bit noisy but it is the sound of horse hooves so it is quite pleasant,” said Patrick Gautier of Trialp, the organisation in charge of the collections.
“It is also non-polluting so it is quite nice to see. It raises awareness among consumers around what goes into collecting waste and it also provides a bit of entertainment which I think everyone appreciates.”
Aix-les-Bains’ two Freiberger horses – Casse-cou and Capitole – are a popular fixture of the town, as they are employed to collect rubbish all through the year.
Three times a week, they pull their trailer through the town to pick up cardboard boxes which have been thrown away by shopkeepers.
Both horses are accustomed to urban environments and are trained to keep calm even in the midst of traffic.
“I think that it is a lovely example of what can be done in terms of eco-responsibility,” deputy mayor Marie-Pierre Montoro-Sadoux told Franceinfo.
Residents of Chambéry still have another opportunity to see their Christmas tree collected by the hippomobile, which will be moving along a set route through the town once again on Saturday (January 15) between 11:00 and 16:00.
You can find out more about the collection points on the Chambéry agglomeration website.
Collections in Viviers-du-Lac are also taking place today (January 11).