“The mayor is important here, especially in winter”: interview with Jocelyne Baruffa, elected representative of Châteauneuf-d’Entraunes

“The mayor is important here, especially in winter”: interview with Jocelyne Baruffa, elected representative of Châteauneuf-d’Entraunes
“The mayor is important here, especially in winter”: interview with Jocelyne Baruffa, elected representative of Châteauneuf-d’Entraunes

Jocelyne Baruffa, mayor of Châteauneuf-d’Entraunes since 2001, has a dream: that the Val d’Entraunes sector – one of the most isolated in the department – ​​works together with the municipality to attract services and culture.

At 65, this retired civil servant notes that mayors are too busy “the daily, time-consuming”which distracts them from more collective or ambitious projects.

How do you define your municipality?

It is a jewel, a jewel in its position. We have a 360 degree view, we are on a promontory, we fear nothing. The houses are grouped together, not very far apart and we are in a magnificent environment.

The Col de la Cayolle has just reopened. What does that change for you?

Obviously, that changes in terms of attendance. The position of Châteauneuf is not on the main artery of the Var. You have to gain altitude, it’s a dead end. We have the contribution of bikers and tourists who are curious to come, but the fact of not being on the way is the weakness of the village. You have to have the curiosity to come. Those who do it are amazed.

What is the population?

We have a population that is largely in second homes. In winter, there are between 12 and 15 of us. In summer, there are 60 of us. There are three children and no school transport, you have to bring them… We feel isolated and at the same time preserved. You have to find your account there. But it develops mutual aid, solidarity.

One of the big challenges, as for many, is maintaining the hostel…

Two years ago, I held a public meeting to find out if everyone wanted it to remain open, given the successive failures: after two years, people always end up leaving. Everyone wanted it to remain open: there must be a meeting point on the square. A young man offered, but today we still suffer from the distance and not being on a main road: how can we get people to come to Châteauneuf? In addition to the inn, we have a gîte, which gives us 18 beds in total. We called on a private firm and a priori, it appears that it should be a shared operation and that the catering of the inn must be developed.

Is this inn the driving force of the village?

You should know that we are on the GR52a, a route frequented by hikers. Châteauneuf may be a more important step. We also have the Barlatte farm, run by a couple who have been there for 11 years. In partnership with the municipality, we developed a great business: they use public buildings, but have invested. Their cheeses and yogurts are very famous. They receive groups, for educational purposes, and organize activities.

The mayor of Entraunes, Pierre Tardieu, defends the idea of ​​a reunification of the municipalities of Val d’Entraunes. What do you think?

I don’t think this is everyone’s opinion. I think we are all different and complementary. The populations are not yet ready for this type of project. We have made great progress, with the “Villages of the Future” label. [Un mécanisme d’État dont ont récemment bénéficié les communes du secteur, de par leurs difficultés d’éloignement]. It allows us to meet, to share our concerns. But, we have specificities which fall within municipal prerogatives. When we look at the groupings… We add layers. But the role of the mayor, in small towns, is important. Especially in winter, when there is no one around. When they meet the mayor, people are reassured. Even if regional developments must be considered on a larger scale. There was a time when everyone wanted a hostel, and we all had the same problems…

How to cure it?

My hobby horse is to bring services and culture to us. I dream of a truck that goes up, with games to keep the elderly occupied. As a kid, I remember the bakery honking its horn. It was great. Today is a new era, it is a great regret. But we’re working on it. There are already buses connected to Guillaumes. But that’s not enough.

Do municipalities make competing choices?

We are all caught up in everyday life, which is time-consuming. I dream of making Val d’Entraunes a land of festivals. We are all fighting on the same subject, but we must not do the same thing at the same time.

In the territory, there is the Val Pelens ski resort, managed by the municipality of Saint-Martin-du-Var. Faced with climate change, he asked himself the question of closing it. What do you think?

Seen from the outside, it speaks to me about my childhood. I promised myself that my little girl would go to Val Pelens to learn to ski. It’s essential, it’s part of our history. But I am not the mayor of Saint-Martin-du-Var.

Perhaps the municipalities could share the burden, organize themselves to develop differently?

It’s not too topical. I don’t want to interfere in the affairs of Saint-Martin-du-Var. For the big resorts, it’s different, there are other communities…

What is it like to be mayor of this town which varies between 12 and 60 inhabitants?

It’s a matter of great pride. I am originally from Châteauneuf. My parents ran the hotel-restaurant. In 2001, I wanted a change of municipality, I wanted to give back what Châteauneuf had given me. Mayor, that’s up to me. Growing up, it had no interest for me. You have to be passionate about the job, the village, and being close to the people. It takes a lot of involvement, but I have very good support.

His three priorities

Burial of the networks of the hamlet of Tourres: “All this work of burying overhead lines was done outside the village. We also have fiber, which should arrive in the third quarter of this year.”

Preservation of water resources: “Our water resources are low. Our sources are 7 kilometers from the network. We are studying the possibility of creating an irrigation network for gardens and vegetable gardens, in order to free up this use of food water.”

Requalification of the village: “We are working on it, we have a big project in progress, including the installation of a terminal for electric vehicles.”

A favorite

“The Barlatte farm is a great success, a perfect example of public/private partnership. And I want to pay tribute to the residents, their solidarity in good times and bad.”

A rant

“I have several! The absence of answers, in matters of town planning for example. We are required to make prior declarations, which is normal, but when we have questions, we never have an answer. We fall on telephone platforms, it is no longer bearable Furthermore, we have to relaunch the calls for tenders several times so that companies respond and come to Châteauneuf-d’Entraunes. There is overall a big frustration: between the. moment when you have the idea and the realization, you have to be patient and optimistic And I have one regret: there are a lot of closed houses in the village, unsettled inheritances, it’s a shame.

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