I love the town of Descartes ~ it has a gritty realism that kind of suits me; it’s a really unpretentious, working town. Post World War II there were a number of paper producing centers in the Touraine at: Balesmes, La Guerche, Marnay, Azay-le-Rideau and La-Haye-Descartes (now Descartes).
I understand from locals who live in the South Touraine that the paper industry at Descartes (and at the village of Buxeuil across the River Cruese) was the major employer in the town. From what I hear Descartes seems to have specialised in high-quality paper products. Since the industy’s demise the town has struggled economically. Its economic decline also had its effect upon the viability of the local railway ~ a decline compounded by the increased use of road haulage and private car use.
Railway traffic at Descartes seems to have ended in the 1990s. Though I noticed today, as I walked along the line from the church to the old station, that there has been some recent upkeep and maintenance of the track. Perhaps goods traffic still passes through the town?
Here are some present day images of industrial decline around the old railway station area:
For other images of Descartes and Le Grand Pressigny railway stations click here.
A few facts on the present day French paper making industry:
- The name paper derives from the name of the papyrus plant.
- Paper is made of pulped cellulose fibres; cotton, flax, wood etc.
- The first paper mill in France was established in 1348 ~ though paper making may have started some 2-300 years previously.
- French paper production is a growth industry, it ranks 9th in the world and fourth in Europe.
- The rate of recovered (recycled) paper and cardboard of the French paper industry reached 58.0% in 2004.
Sources used: Visage de la Touraine, Published by J. Dumoulin, Paris, 1948 (in my collection)