Located not far from the Vendôme, the small village of Thoré-La-Rochette has become a model for collective life. The documentary “The Scouts, Photography of a New World” follows the course of this village like no other, where life is good and where mutual help is unlimited.
Thirty years ago, the first high-speed line was born connecting Paris with the Vendôme in less than 45 minutes. Even then, avant-garde Parisians chose to work in Paris while living in the countryside. This opportunity could have given birth to a metro, work, sleep generation. Thoré-la-Rochette would then have become like a simple large suburb of Paris.
Instead, the municipality has liberated itself to an alternative village where many above-earth dreams have come true. By collaborating with each other, the actors of this village, natives of Thoréz and the new rural areas, have succeeded in creating a place where creativity and mutual help have no boundaries. Yet everything here was built in simplicity. Without anticipating all this. Just a sense of community that was already there and growing over the years.
From a rock festival, to another jazz festival at train stations, via an associative grocery store, an outdoor exhibition hall made in the form of a labyrinth with the inhabitants’ old doors, a vineyard, here, the paths cross, meet, associate and projects become reality.
Today, Thoré-la-Rochette is a village with an impressive number of volunteers. Here, everyone is involved in the projects of others for the common good. The young people help the old, the artists teach their art in school and everything is organized so that there is a responsible and quality offer. Unique for a village of 800 inhabitants.
In Thoré-La-Rochette, the epicenter of the village is without a doubt “The Counter of Cocottes “. It was established in 2017 and is the essential place where the Thoréz people meet. This merchant, they built it with their own hands and invest in it on the associative model, a solution to consume locality and solidarity. Mutual help and cooperation is the driving force.
At the initiative of this place, Christine and Catherine, two friends in retraining who fell in the right place.
“Catherine and I went a lot. ” says Christine. We wondered how to convert. I was a journalist. I had traveled a lot. Catherine did management checks before taking care of her two children. One day, she showed me a movie that told the story of an associate grocery store in Brooklyn. It was very enticing. It made sense. We did not need a micro village. We needed at least 500 inhabitants. We almost moved to a neighboring village. But the mayor came to pick us up. He told us “I will lend you a room”, banco!
Christine Bourdier, co-founder of the association “Le Comptoir des Cocottes” explains the concept to us:
It must be acknowledged that the mayor of Thoré-La-Rochette, also chairman of the Association of Rural Mayors of Loir-et-Cher, Thierry Benoit, plays an important role in this exceptional village. Humble as he says, he is a project facilitator.
The grocery store “Le Comptoir des Cocottes” is a magical place as it is starting to exist in a few rare places these days.
It’s more than a grocery store. It is also a meeting place, a place of social bond, a place of socialization, a place of cultural exchanges. That’s all we’re looking for in our small villages. It is to be able to maintain the link.Thierry Benoit, Mayor of Thoré-la-Rochette
The principle: In order to take advantage of the low prices, all customers give their time voluntarily. 42 volunteers give every 3 hours a month and it works! The store and the association also employ four full-time employees. The producers themselves have been involved since the creation of the “Comptoir des Cocottes”. It is together that they thought about the production volumes as well as the means of supply. The prices in the stores are intended to give them reasonable remuneration and create a loyal point of sale. There are more than 90 producers, mainly in organic farming, that Christine and Catherine have gathered here. All within a radius of 30 kilometers.
Meeting with Fawzi, a former Touraine osteopath transformed into a professional gardener. In his half-hectare mini-farm, he and his wife grow vegetables, which are mainly intended for local restaurateurs. When they got here, they did not know much about it. They learned a lot, watched dozens of hours of videos on gardening techniques and got started. After a year of operation, Fawzi and his wife have made more profits than they had planned. Next year, this microfarm will allow them to double their turnover and thus exceed the objectives set by this economic model.
Mat and Monica, both artists, are part of this neo-rural momentum in Thoré-la-Rochette. Their quest: to propose a new world for tomorrow without throwing it away from yesterday. Like the cultural place they created: a maze, built by their hands, with abandoned doors!
We came to provoke initiatives around culture. And that for all audiences. We are not interested in bringing people in from outside if there are not people from the area, the locals.Mat Jacob, co-founder of the cultural space “Zone i”
When they arrived here, Parisians in search of meaning and different circumstances, Mat, a photographer who has traveled the world, and his wife Monica, artistic director, encountered a mill and its soil, in a flood zone, soil that can not built on .. However, there they saw the place of their dream, a land in the image of our planet, which seems doomed, but from which creativity and rebirth can emerge. Renamed “Area in “, this place, a cultural center dedicated to the image, alone represents their commitment to creating a new world. I like flooding? No, I as inconspicuous, inventive, original …
As soon as they arrived, Mat and Monica met artists who were already promoting culture in Thoré-la-Rochette: Richard Gauvin, a member of the Figures Libres collective, was already in the process of organizing the musical festival “Gare à la Rochette”, which gathers nearly 3,000 people each year. Pierre Lambla, a musician who also teaches the school to divide art and pass on his passion to children and Clelia, a screenwriter who came to live here with her family to live her artistic adventure in the heart of sharing, a place, where her children exchange with elders, knowing how to live together, which was more and more difficult in the city. There’s also HPO, an artist who came to create here, far from the hustle and bustle of Paris, and who does not really want us to talk about Thoré-La-Rochette and its quality of life: “Not everyone should come here! “
These meetings very quickly gave Mat and Monica wings to set up their somewhat crazy project. It must be said that at the origin of “Zone i” there was not much! Upon arrival here, the couple found an impressive batch of old doors, which belonged to the garbage collector, former resident of the premises. Instead of throwing everything away, they used it to build a maze that became the showroom of their dreams. They even completed their maze with doors brought by the inhabitants.
For three years, the “Zone i” and its Moulin de la Fontaine have become their playground, and this place is much more than a place of cultural exhibition. It is first and foremost a life project for them. He is the proof that one can create art and bring people together in a rural setting; the proof that one can build on a flood zone, the symbol of a world that some believe is doomed; the proof that we can divide spaces, invite the inhabitants to participate in photo exhibitions like the one a few months ago with their own print, Thorezians, in the middle of their abandoned doors, which tells their 10,000 lives … The proof that we can make something new out of something old.
► “The Scouts, Photography of a New World”, a co-production from France Télévisions, TGA Production and Simone & Raymond Productions, directed by Stéphanie Elbaz and Luc David.
First broadcast Thursday, March 31, 2022 at. 23:20 den France 3 Center-Loire Valley.