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Green city Poitiers says ‘non’ to French Ville Fleurie competition

The previous winners cite water use, staff time and high entry fee as reasons for withdrawing from the popular ‘In Bloom’ contest

Colourful flowers planted in rows

Hot summers mean flowering ‘show’ plants need more water Pic: Fedotova Olga /Shutterstock

Poitiers has withdrawn from the annual Ville Fleurie contest, saying it wants its open spaces to be planted with longer-lasting vegetation – and not flowers.

Ville Fleurie, one of the more popular inter-communal contests in France, run in various formats since 1959, awards stars, or rather flowers, to towns with the most colourful planting displays. 

Also taken into consideration are factors such as public involvement in decorating the commune.

Last year, 4,500 communes took part in the contest, of which 276 won the top four flower ranking, which was last won by Poitiers in 2019.

The city confirmed it will not be taking part this year.

€1,000 fee influenced decision

Greens took over from the socialists as the majority party on the conseil municipal in 2020.

Read more: Why it's not very Christmassy in Poitiers this year

The deputy mayor in charge of parks and gardens, Pierre Nénez, told local TV that hot summers meant municipal agents had to spend large amounts of time watering flowers and uprooting and replacing scorched plants for the contest.

He said the parks department was looking for longer-lasting plants, shrubs and trees to replace some of the flowerbeds.

To enter the contest, villages, towns and cities must pay an entry fee, which ranges from €50 for communes with fewer than 500 residents through to €1,400 for a city the size of Lyon. 

Mr Nénez said the €1,000 fee Poitiers had to stump up was another factor in the decision.

“Filling out the forms and arranging jury visits all takes a lot of time from municipal staff, and we feel we can do without it, at least for a while,” he said.

Contest criteria is more ecological

The association Villes et Villages Fleuris, which organises the competition, called the decision “regrettable”.

Spokesman Kevin Beurlat told The Connexion: “We feel they have not taken on board the changes to include more environmental sensibilities in the way we judge.

“Our criteria have changed to include efforts at perennial planting, encouraging biodiversity and the ecological management of parks and flowerbeds.

“We respect the political choice made by Poitiers but also look forward to welcoming them again in the future.”

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