King Charles III’s visit to Landiras “shows that the fires have marked the whole world”

“Ah yes, it is true that he would come…” Less than ten days before the planned visit of King Charles III and the Queen Consort to the Landiras sector (Gironde), affected by the 2022 forest fires, the event does not disturb the daily lives of the residents.

This Sunday at the market of Landiras (Gironde), the inhabitants had little concern about the arrival of King Charles III. – Michael Bosredon

This Sunday morning, at the Landiras market, we are generally more concerned about the consequences of 49.3, where the government has decided to approve the pension reform, than about this royal visit to the Gironde on March 28. ‘I, what I especially hope, is that it doesn’t block the village from us! “says Dominique Kuntz, who runs the “Domi Paella” stand, and who says she is “absolutely unconcerned” about the arrival of the King of the United Kingdom. “And what do you say that his arrival will be maintained?”, Launches a resident, concerned about the social climate in the country.

“We get a message at the last minute,” the mayor thinks

King Charles III and his wife announced a trip to France from March 26 to 28 earlier this month. They will first visit Paris, then Bordeaux on March 28, from where they must go the same day to Château Smith Haut-Lafitte in Martillac for a tasting, and then the Landiras area. According to the British Embassy in France, “His Majesty [viendra] observe the damage caused by last summer’s wildfires and listen to the testimonies of the rescuers and the local community”. The king is sensitive to environmental issues and wants to go there to see the effects of global warming. If the first fire in Landiras was criminal in origin, the extreme weather conditions soon made it uncontrollable.

The mayor of Landiras, Jean-Marc Pelletant, assures that for the time being he has “absolutely no information” about the organization and protocol surrounding this state visit. “I don’t even know if he will come to Landiras itself, because the burnt area is still very large and extends over several municipalities…” In July and August 2022, about 22,000 hectares of forest had burned down around Landiras. “We are notified at the last minute, the mayor continues, I think it is for security reasons”.

Mountains of felled wood lie along the road waiting to be picked up
Mountains of cut wood are waiting to be picked up along the road – Mickaël Bosredon

It’s a now-devastated area the royal couple will explore, marked by gaping holes in the middle of the forest – even though young pines have been replanted in several places – and mountains of felled timber waiting to be picked up on the side of the road .

“He is to his credit for coming to the Landiras site”

Jean-Marc Pelletant says “he is very honored that during a state visit a great figure of this world comes to visit us. “His arrival shows that these fires have marked the whole world, the elected official continues. There were reports in different countries, in the United States, in Britain, about the Landiras fire. »

On the market, some locals also appreciate the approach. “Charles III is very sensitive to everything related to ecology, I think he is a good person and it is to his credit that he wants to go to the scene of the fires,” appreciates Annette Lavigne. “Very good that he is moving here, another resident who prefers to remain anonymous will suffice. I don’t expect anything out of the ordinary from its arrival, but if it can challenge people to make them more respectful, and get things done faster to release resources, all the better, because we’ve seen during these fires that we lacked resources. The issue of the allocation of two Canadairs to the Gironde often comes up in discussions.

“A terrible reminder” of these fires

In the village we remain very marked by these fires, for which several inhabitants had to be evacuated. Angelina, who just came back from the maternity ward after giving birth, remembers it very well. “We all have terrible memories of these fires, we were very shocked. “We live in the middle of the forest, we were in the middle of the fires,” continues Dominique Kuntz. Today as I walk this road [la route principale qui traverse la forêt], I still have a lump in my stomach. »

However, several residents remain outraged by “government management of fires”. “We’ve been abandoned,” Annette blurts out coldly. “Fortunately, the volunteers, the town halls, were there to feed the firefighters,” emphasizes Dominique, who herself “brought about a hundred meals” to the firefighters. “The solidarity between the villages is enormous,” she emphasizes.

“We will have to remain very vigilant”

“This fire was uncontrollable and lasted two and a half months,” recalls Jean-Marc Pelletant. And the mayor says he is concerned about the return of sunny days. “Because of the peat in the basement, the fire smoldered for a long time in some places. Two weeks before Christmas, smoke was still rising from the ground. After this winter’s drought, we will have to remain very vigilant. »

To shed some light on this gloomy picture, the elected official also points out that there is not only forest in his sector, but also vines in the Graves appellation. ‘We have thirteen châteaux and as King Charles seems to be a wine lover we have decided to offer him a bottle of wine from each estate. »

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