In Orne, young graduate deserters reinvent life in the countryside

Igor Louboff remembers the day he took a map of France, looked at real estate prices, direct train lines to Paris, and said to himself: ” It’s here. » “Here” was therefore the bocage ornais, a rural area around Flers dotted with small villages, whose departmental roads are crisscrossed by tractors. Barely thirty, a graduate of the Essca business school and the London School of Economics, he had just left his contract position at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, frustrated by the slowness of the “big machine” and the low impact of his work. In the midst of an existential crisis, he imagines a remedy for his ill-being: leaving the capital, settling in the countryside and finding a job. “meaningful”.

So here he is installed in Chênedouit, 175 inhabitants, celebrating as a volunteer at the recycling center Les Fourmis vertes in Flers. He didn’t know yet that he would be at the origin of a great word-of-mouth movement. Four years later, ” forty ” Twenty-somethings or thirty-somethings have settled in this handful of villages in the Bocage Ornais. There are Sciences Po graduates, young engineers, business school alumni, computer scientists, graphic designers, photographers – all connected by a very active group on Signal messaging. For many, the health crisis was the detonator of the movement. Living in the countryside, spending less on housing, consuming differently, telecommuting… A sober way of life that breaks with the established paths, more in line with the ecological values ​​that they all put in the foreground.

The agglomeration of Flers sees in the arrival of this small community an opportunity, while this territory of 50,000 inhabitants is experiencing difficulties: lack of health professionals, high unemployment rate, closure of local shops, aging population… Since three years, things change: it has stopped losing inhabitants. “On a growing newcomer, property prices have taken 20% in three years. The “For Sale” signs in front of the houses have disappeared, everything is going very quickly…”observes Youssef Zeniter, director of attractiveness for the agglomeration of Flers.

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These young neo-rurals don’t just want to take advantage of the quality of life, cheap real estate and the two-twenty-hour direct train ride to Paris. A few months after his arrival, Igor Louboff and three young “deserting” engineers – Corentin Rio, out of Arts et Métiers, Aline Massy, ​​a graduate of the National School of Chemistry in Lille who had just left her post at Suez at La Défense, and Adrien Desplat, who worked for AgroParisTech – created their dream job in the countryside. Namely an agency, in the form of a cooperative, which develops projects around the ecological transition, in order to replace “a breathless economic model”, indicates the manifest of the structure. Called La Coop des Territoires, it also tries to encourage more young people to settle in this territory..

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