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The plane trees of France

At night they move, great shadows on the march,
Positioning themselves on the bends of roads,
Traipsing across fields to the most dangerous spots,
Where they wait, branches waving, alert,
Ready to hurl themselves forward implacably at speeding motorists
Too drink-sodden and speed-crazed to notice.

Now the Anti Plane Tree Commandos have arrived,
Manly heroes of this desperate hour,
Chainsaws buzzing,
Oblivious to all dangers,
Stalking like hunters the terrorist trees!

Hurrah! To the Anti Plane Tree Commandos!
Hurrah! To the breweries!
Hurrah! To high speed!
Death to the plane trees!

Following the frequent deaths of motorists too drunk or speed-crazed to negotiate bends in French roads a group called the ‘The Anti-Plane-Tree-Commandos’ decided to take the law into its own hands.

You really couldn’t make it up 🙂


From The Independent


Friday, 10 August 2001
By dead of night this week, a group calling itself the Anti-Plane Tree Commando sawed down 66 trees on a minor road in the foothills of the Pyrenees. The same group, believed to consist of local motorcyclists armed with power saws, destroyed 96 plane trees on another stretch of the same road, just north of Tarbes, in June.


According to one survey, nearly one in 10 of the 8,000 road deaths in France each year involves collisions with trees.


In a letter sent to a local radio station this week, the Anti-Plane Tree Commando said it had been forced to put pressure on the government, because “things have not advanced since June”. The same letter called on people all over France to take chainsaws into their own hands.


Arguments over the compatibility of such trees with motor vehicles are not new. President Georges Pompidou – traditionally seen as a friend of the car – wrote to his Prime Minister, Jacques Chaban-Delmas, in 1970, opposing the suppression of roadside trees. “France does not exist solely for people to drive around in cars,” he wrote. “The requirements of road safety should not disfigure the French countryside.”


And the poet, Raymond Queneau, wrote at about the same time: “Plane trees no longer grow beside the road. They have emigrated to calmer places. They have had enough of cars hitting them in their trunks at full speed. They have had enough of hearing all the ladies and gentlemen accuse them of being responsible for all life’s dramas.”

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