Out for a walk with MonsieurR and Puce in the town where I spent most of my childhood, I was amazed to see the number of new houses that have sprung up where before there were only fields. A small village that has now merged with the slightly larger village next door, equipped itself with a swimming pool (sorry, leisure centre), skateboard park and soon to be opened new high school. A far cry from the one-sheep place I grew up in.
At the end of our newly created woodland walk, through what would have been private property when I was younger, we wandered around one of these brand new housing estates as I tried to get my bearings. The houses were all similar, yet subtly different; pristine, with at least one car if not two parked in the drives outside. And immaculate front lawns.
“A quoi ça sert?” commented MonsieurR. What’s it for ? Well, there’s a subject I’d never given any thought to whatsoever. But as I looked a little closer at these front lawns, mowed to Wimbledon standards, bordered regimentally by a narrow section of earth sprouting obedient pansies, I began to realise that I’d never ever seen a front lawn in France. “I mean,” carried on MonsieurR, “you can’t play petanque on it, and you wouldn’t have a barbecue out front, so what do you do with it apart from mow it and weed it?”. I began to search for some kind of justification, raison d’être for the front lawn. To no avail. I’ve never seen people sitting out on deckchairs out front; there were no fences, so you couldn’t let your toddler run around out there.
So apart from giving people something to mow of a Sunday afternoon (something you’re not allowed to do here in France), what’s it for?
Answers on a postcard…