Just to the north of Paris, under the flight path of the Charles de Gaulle airport, lies the specter of a little French town that was postcard-perfect – until catastrophe struck.
Goussainville-Vieux Pays was once a postcard perfect town, but less than a year before Charles de Gaulle Airport opened in 1974, a plane crashed into the town. Eight residents and six crew members lost their lives, and several houses were decimated in the accident. The fallout from the incident caused many of the townspeople to evacuate immediately, while others followed suit within the year, as the sorrow from the devastation combined with the sound traffic from the international airport proved too much to bear.
To this day, only a few of Goussainville-Vieux Pays’ original, most stubborn residents remain. Everywhere one looks is a proliferation of houses in various states of disrepair. Overgrown yards with rusted gates and dangling shutters are the norm. Peeling doors sit ajar. Some of the structures look burned-out and skeletal, while others still bear traces of their former tenants’ possessions. In other houses, it seem like only yesterday that they had been vacated, with writing desks still open and books spilling over the floor, and cellars brimming with wine bottles, once full.
Over the years, traces of squatters moving in has begun to mount. Graffiti tags are accumulating more rapidly; occasional mattresses are stowed in the more decrepit structures.
Despite this, the town maintains a beautiful eeriness. This is most obvious example of this is the town’s chateau, where it is possible to stand on the edge of the ground floor and see the innards of the whole building, the basement and the upper floors in a single vista.
Though more than 40 years have passed since the plane crash, no attempt yet as been made to reclaim the land, making its disused portions among the most feral around Its proximity to Paris, of course, means only time will tell when modernity will finally erase the echoes of Goussainville-Vieux Pays’ ghostly demise.