PHOTOS: French town uses horses to collect old Christmas trees

A horse-drawn carriage picks up the trees which are then recycled and turned into mulch to use as protection from weeds

A man and his young daughter looking at the horse-drawn carriage
The horse-drawn carriage provides environmental benefits and entertains the children
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A mairie in the north of France has come up with an unusual solution to help people dispose of their Christmas trees: collecting them with the help of a horse-drawn carriage.

The Trait du Nord horses, a breed known for its pulling power, covered a 22 km route with a carriage on January 10, collecting 180 trees.

An environmentally friendly scheme

The environmental manager for the Petite-Forêt mairie Ludovic Berlemont, 45, said the idea was born from a partnership with Caval’Trait, an organisation that owns Trait du Nord horses: “We organise horse-carriage rides for pensioners and the Christmas market already so we thought why not use these horses to also collect the Christmas trees and then recycle the trees into mulch.”

The horse-drawn carriage draws a crowd Pic: Service communication de la mairie de Petite-Forêt

The mairie advertises the collection day locally and on its social media and residents can leave their trees outside their door.

For the first time this year, it also offered to re-plant any sapins en motte (potted Christmas trees). Only two were picked up but Mr Berlemont hopes that there will be more next year, when more people know about the re-planting.

The mulch from the trees is used to protect shrubs and trees from weeds and to make sure the soil stays humid. Mr Berlemont underlined the fact that using horses helps reduce pollution too.

2024 was the fourth year that the collection took place, with double the number of trees picked up compared to 2020.

Twice as many trees were picked up this year compared to the first year of collection Pic: Service communication de la mairie de Petite-Forêt

The horses are also an exciting sight for children, many of whom braved the cold to get up close to the animals: “We always organise the collection day on a Wednesday or a Saturday (when children are off school) so that they come out to see and stroke the horses, right outside their house,” said Mr Berlemont.

There are a few other places in France that collect Christmas trees with the help of horses, including Bérat (Haute-Garonne) and Fribourg (Moselle).

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