Saturday, December 1, 2012

Cheesy welcome to Choranche

I was stunned, a few days ago, to discover an enormous colorful billboard, promoting cheese, that had sprung up beneath my nose, a few hundred meters below my property at Gamone.

Installed within a sturdy wooden frame upon a pair of massive concrete blocks inside a former stone quarry, on the blind corner where the narrow road up to Presles leaves the main road between Pont-en-Royans and Villard-de-Lans, this cheesy billboard, which is both an eyesore and a danger, promotes a relatively recent local cheese named Bleu du Vercors-Sassenage. As far as I know, our commune of Choranche has no obvious role in the promotion of this cheese factory up on the plateau. Cheese-wise, from both a cultural and a milk-production viewpoint, Choranche has always belonged to the world-famous district of St-Marcellin, manufactured from cows' milk produced in some 300 communes of the Isère, Drôme and Savoie departments. The Bleu du Vercors-Sassenage can therefore be looked upon as a new kid on the block, which is hardly about to replace the ancient St-Marcellin product as our most celebrated cheese.

The silliest aspect of this promotional act is the fact that the billboard has been placed on the left-hand side of the road in the middle of an exceptionally dangerous corner (our local roads are obliged to follow ancient pathways whose itineraries are often neither logical nor safe by modern standards), where motorists are obliged to be on the lookout for approaching vehicles that might be drifting across the white lines. Consequently, no reasonable driver has an opportunity of admiring the billboard without risking his life and the lives of other motorists. Indeed, the billboard is only visible over a distance of a few dozen meters. If ever a driver were to devote even a second to examining the contents of the billboard while traveling along this short section of the curve, he/she would be necessarily distracted to the point of becoming a mortal danger for approaching vehicles.

I've actually brought up this road-safety question with a couple of fellow residents, who simply haven't succeeded in becoming aware of the message that the billboard is supposed to transmit. One of these individuals has been attracted primarily—and exclusively, I would say—by the vision of the enormous blocks of concrete on which the billboard has been placed.

Times are hard, economically, and anybody who dares to interfere with economic progress might be seen as a reactionary. So, I've decided to do nothing more than publish the present blog post, to express (for the record) my purely personal disapproval of this cheesy billboard.


  1. So the billboard is on public land? How much does your local council receive from the cheesemakers? And I agree that to place it near a blind corner is asking for trouble. What an eyesore!

  2. No, Annie, the billboard is not located on public land, and our local council may not have played a major role in the decision to install the billboard. Reading between the lines, you might be in a position to understand that I do not intend to pursue this affair any further. There is however a single positive note in this whole affair: namely, that the presence of the billboard suggests that the spot where it has been erected is not about to revert to its former role as a quarry. The possible road traffic danger resulting from the installation of the billboard could not affect me personally, in the sense that I've always been aware of the precautions that must be taken at the level of this dangerous intersection. If ever an accident were to take place here in the future, my blog post might be construed as retrospective evidence that I was aware of the dangerous position of the billboard. But it would be unwise of me to attempt to delve more deeply into the existence of this billboard. So, Annie, you might consider that, as a simple citizen, I've already said both too much and too little about this affair, dominated by economic factors...

  3. I get your drift.

    I would not be worried about you, with your awareness of the danger of the spot, but there are some mad drivers out there over whom you would have no control! Keep safe!