Goussainville-Vieux Pays: the post-apocalyptic remains of a bucolic town ruined by a plane crash.
Just to the north of Paris, under the flight path of the Charles de Gaulle airport, lies the remains of a little pretty French town. At least, until catastrophe struck.
It is Goussainville-Vieux Pays (not to be confused with nearby, still-thriving Goussainville), that was once a postcard-like town, and for centuries, it functioned as a small, quaint farming village.
The old town was once positively bucolic, surrounded mostly by green space. This was, ironically enough, what drew planners to select the area as the location for Charles de Gaulle airport.
Less than a year before airport opened in 1974, during the annual Paris Air Show, the town suffered a traumatizing event: a Tupolev TU-144, the USSR’s answer to the Concorde, crashed into a row of 15 homes and a school.
As a result, eight residents and six crew members lost their lives, and several houses were destroyed in the accident. The tragedy caused many of the townspeople to evacuate immediately, while others followed suit within the year, as the sorrow from the devastation combined with the sound traffic from the international airport proved too much to bear.
The last residents, when the airport officially opening the following year, found themselves living right underneath the flight path. Exodus continued and most fled the noise, leaving an almost ghost town behind.
Today only a few of Goussainville-Vieux Pays’ original, most stubborn residents remain and everywhere is different houses in different states of disrepair with overgrown yards with rusted gates and dangling shutters, with flaking doors.
Over the years, graffiti tags are accumulating rapidly even if, despite this, the town maintains a beautiful eeriness. For example the town’s chateau, where it is possible to enter and see the innards (totally collapsed) of the whole building.
Though more than 40 years have passed since the plane crash, no attempt yet as been made to reclaim the area, making its abandonment among the most suggestive due Its proximity to Paris.
Maybe because Goussainville-Vieux Pays is so close to Charles de Gaulle airport that it’s considered part of the runway approach, and for an airport that host an average of nearly 500,000 takeoffs and landings par year, that means a relentless stream of jet noise and pollution.
Only time will tell when modernity will finally erase the echoes of Goussainville-Vieux Pays’ ghostly demise.