Tension High Before Ruling on Center Parcs Village in Ancient French Forest

On the edge of an ancient forest in a remote corner of south-eastern France, a spray-painted sign marked the entrance to the “free zone”.
An abandoned forestry house had been transformed into a squatted operations centre called “the fortress”. Men and women were building wooden structures, planting small vegetable patches and surveying a map of “barricades” built deep into the woodland. This is the frontline in the latest battle over the heart and soul of the French countryside: a protest movement to stop the construction of a Center Parcs holiday village in the Forest of Chambaran in Isère. For eight years, Center Parcs – the woodland holiday-camp concept known for its family bungalows and giant transparent domes containing pools and jacuzzis – has been planning to build a holiday village of nearly 1,000 cottages on a 150-hectare site in this remote forest. But Center Parcs Europe – which is owned by the French holiday giant Pierre & Vacances, and is separate from Center Parcs UK – has come up against determined opposition.