Faced with climate breakdown, the energy crisis, and modern stress levels, there is a growing movement in French towns to bring back the horse and cart as an alternative to fossil fuels and a way to slow down urban life.
Florence, an estate agent in Hennebont, always stepped out of her office to watch the horse-drawn bin cart pass. “When I hear the sound of the hooves it’s just total happiness to me,” she said. “It brings a kind of gentle calm in these frantic times. It brings a bit of poetry into daily life, a reminder that things can be more simple. If I could live in a world without cars, I would.”
Since the first trials to reintroduce draft horses for municipal tasks in the mid-1990s, the number of French towns and urban areas using them has multiplied by almost 20 and continues to rise. Up to 200 urban areas have used draft horses in recent years. The most frequent tasks are rubbish collection and horse-drawn carriages taking children to school.
In the southern town of Vendargues, where the horse-drawn school carts are so popular that waiting lists have been 100 families-long, a study found they had improved the children’s relationship to learning. Some children who could walk or cycle to school preferred travelling by horse-drawn cart, despite it taking longer, because they found it “calming”.
Here is the full story, via Steven Kaufman.