National Geographic : 1975 May
marriages, Daniel regards it as a recent tragedy. "In the time of our own parents," he said, "there were signs in every schoolroom of Provence: 'Forbidden to Spit on the Floor and Speak Provencal.' "We're changing that," he said forcefully. "I teach my pupils Provencal. I read them the folktales. I sing the songs too, in Proven cal. And I've made recordings with my guitar. Now the children can speak Provencal to their grandparents. They're not ashamed of it anymore; they're proud of it." AITS MOST EXTREME LEVEL the Occitania Movement would like Occi tania (Land of Oc) to become a sepa rate nation from France. "We have a long history of dissidence and resistance to central authority," Daniel continued. "It dates from the 12th century, the golden age of the troubadours, when our big towns, like Marseille, Arles, Tarascon, Avignon, Draguignan, and Grasse, were self governing, electing their own magistrates. We resisted all the French tyrants. Now we have local-action committees to resist the pressures of central power." Members of the Occitania Movement es pecially resent the army, the centralized national power monopoly known as E.D.F. (Electricite de France), and the big tourist promoters who buy up the peasants' property in the Var-an administrative region-and erect vacation villas and apartments for estrangers, mostly Parisians. "The situation is dramatic," Daniel said. "Four years ago when I came to Regusse there were 42 pupils in the school. Today I have only 18. A shepherd with five children just left because he can't rent grazing land anymore. The promoters have bought it up. To see what the army and E.D.F. are doing, go to the Plan de Canjuers and Les Salles." The vast, desolate Canjuers Plain was often used as a movie set for French "West erns." Now it swarms with soldiers on ma neuvers. Here we saw the doomed village of Broves, destined to end its days as an artil lery target. A solitary old lady sat knitting in front of her house in this ghost town. "Some Till death do us part: Vows are exchanged for the last time in Les Salles, a village soon to be drowned. The locally resented E.D .F.- Electricite de France-dammed the Verdon River to flood a flourishing valley in the name of industry and tourism. Workers level buildings (above), forcing the eviction of lifelong residents, who will be resettled nearby in a new village provided by the power company. The writing proclaims, "EDF equals Nazism; Thieves, Plunderers."