Provence also has its independence fight

The row between Spain and the regional government of Catalonia has sparked interest in the groups in France that are demanding their independence. From the Pays Basque, Corsica and Brittany – to the less well-known movements in Savoy, Prov­ence and Burgundy.

Published Last updated

While Corsica has its own nationalist-led assembly, president Jean-Guy Talamoni says it is “not yet ready” to go it alone but he would not rule out a referendum in 10 years, “if the people of Cor­sica want it”.

Fighting has ended in Pays Basque, which crosses into Spain, but independence hopes linger, and in Spain Basques back Catalans.

In Brittany, it is hard to avoid local cultural pride with the black and white flag on show everywhere, but independence seems to have little backing.

Yet, it is a member of the group of 43 ‘nations,’ including Tibet and Iranian Kurdistan, in the Un­rep­resented Nations and Peoples Or­ganization.

This also includes Savoy, which has a 100% Savoie party and an association for an independent Etat de Savoie. Party president Fabrice Du­gerdil told Connexion that he spent three months in jail for having illegal number plates (with SE for Savoie instead of F for France) and is appealing an 100-day term for not carrying proper ID as his documents were from the Etat de Savoie.

He says the vote that took Savoy into France in 1860 “is now seen as rigged, meaning our autonomy should never have been taken away from us.

“We have a rich history and culture and Paris cannot properly govern our mountainous region. We have a solid economic base and we should run our own affairs.

“We approached the United Nations and hope they will hear our plea in 2018 that France has not respected our rights. We do not want violence so we have not made headlines but we are working on the international scene to further our cause.”

In Provence, Prouvènço Nac­ioun has formed and president Alain Guar­ino, 42, said: “Our reasons are both pride in our culture and a rejection of globalisation. We want to keep Prov­ençal traditions alive and to keep the region’s riches for ourselves and not Paris.

“We wish to be modern and in no way turn our backs on others who wish to live here, but small, independent gov­ernments are the way forward. There is a movement in Europe towards small, countries with a strong identity.”

Bourgogne Libre’s emblem is the Bur­gundy snail and it is made up of musicians and artists and wishes to be ‘light’ and not political. President Germain Arfeux said: “We are serious in our defence of Burgundy values, but wish to do so with humour. We defend local values in the face of globalisation, which makes our regions homogeneous and sterile.

“We are attached to the values of the good life, the conviviality and the humour which can flow from a few glasses of wine.”