Tobacco, the (ex) cash crop of Dordogne – Things to do and see from Maison Porte del Marty

DSCF0453 The Dordogne has experienced great wealth in  past centuries. JustDSCF0409 looking around at  the large number of beautiful Chateaux, country estates, very substantial and attractive  farmers houses, often with their own church and multiple staff quarters, you are talking real money. Since the end of  WWII, successive governments have proved very efficient at slowly taxing these properties out of the hands of  their family owners. With a wealth tax on assets  over 1M€ (and there are no property or family trusts in France)  plus death duty above a very low starting point, through necessity, many of these properties end up being sold, often to international owners. In the past 150 years our immediate area has enjoyed real wealth from high quality paper manufacturing and tobacco growing, both industries have now collapsed. Quality hand made writing paper has been replaced by mass produced printer paper  and a change of ownership of the Gauloise and Gitanes cigarette brands sent the growing of the tobacco and manufacture to Spain, home of the new owners. Bergerac was the production site for DSCF0454the cigarettes and the local Dordogne farmers grew, harvested and dried the tobacco for theDSCF0452 factory. It was big business and a very high value crop that created a lot of wealth and work in the region. The surrounding area now has  100’s of empty tobacco drying sheds, many are now a barn, some converted to holiday homes, others just derelict.  Until 2012, there was a modest subsidy to keep some tobacco growing in France, but with smoking  officially discouraged, a government subsidy was hardly supportable, so the photos attached are probably one of the last crops that will grow in the Dordogne.

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