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Why French village and town road signs are being turned upside down

The upside-down signs first appeared in Tarn, Occitanie, and have spread nationally, but it is in Brittany that they are most visible

These upside-down signs are in Ille-et-Vilaine, Brittany, but examples can be found all over the county Pic: JA35

As you drive through France you may come across a village with an upside down name. The Connexion spoke to one of the groups responsible to ask why this is happening.

The upside-down signs first appeared in Tarn, Occitanie, and have spread nationally, but it is in Brittany that they are the most visible. 

The act is a protest by local farmers to raise visibility of the challenges they face.

“More and more norms, regulations and restrictions are being foisted on French farmers,” the Jeunes Agriculteurs (JA) d'Ille-et-Vilaine group told The Connexion.

“Imported products are not subject to all this.”

In particular, the JA would like to see: 

  • livestock rearing left out of the EU’s new Industrial Emissions Directive
  • for the EGalim law concerning the redistribution of supermarket profits to be respected
  • a renegotiation of the EU obligation to set aside 4% of land each year 

The group has been unscrewing the signs and putting them back the wrong way up since November 13.

It says that no damage is done to the signs, they have had no complaints and some communes openly support them. 

One such commune is Sens-de-Bretagne, which called the protest “a humorous way of highlighting the challenges that farmers face on a daily basis.”

The protest will continue in Ille-et-Vilaine for another week. The group says that they have informed communes in the department of their plans.

“We would like to see this action lead to the Minister of Agriculture taking up a stronger position to protect French farms and present a clear vision for the future,” said the group.

“Our overall idea is to express frustration with the lack of vision for a coherent policy. But it is also meant to be funny.”

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