Goussainville-Vieux Pays was once a thriving farming village. The opening of Charles de Gaulle Airport changed that.

For centuries, Goussainville-Vieux Pays, about 12 miles north of Paris, functioned as a small, quaint farming village. But when Charles de Gaulle Airport opened in the 1970s, residents found themselves living right underneath the flight path. Most fled the noise, leaving a ghost town behind.

The old town was once positively bucolic, surrounded mostly by green space. This was, ironically enough, what drew planners to select the area as the location for CDG. Now, Goussainville-Vieux Pays (not to be confused with nearby, still-thriving Goussainville) is so close to CDG that it's considered part of the runway approach. For an airport that hosted nearly 500,000 takeoffs and landings combined just last year, that means a relentless stream of jet noise and pollution.

In 1973, the town suffered a traumatizing event during the annual Paris Air Show. A Tupolev TU-144, the USSR's answer to the Concorde, crashed into a row of 15 homes and a school, killing six crew members and eight people on the ground. Residents started to leave soon after. The exodus continued when CDG officially opening the following year.

Reuters photographer, Charles Platiau recently photographed the mostly empty old town, in some cases providing some early 20th century postcards of the exact same sites for comparison:

A vintage postcard printed around 1915 shows the cafe "Au Paradis" (In Heaven) of Goussainville-Vieux Pays (REUTERS/Collection Charles Platiau)
Exterior view of the former cafe "Au Paradis" of Goussainville-Vieux Pays. Picture taken September 9, 2013. (REUTERS/Charles Platia)
A vintage postcard printed around 1910 shows the Gaudry street of Goussainville-Vieux Pays (REUTERS/Collection Charles Platiau)
General view of the Gaudry street, its remaining houses now abandoned. Picture taken September 9, 2013 (REUTERS/Charles Platiau) 
A vintage postcard printed around 1910 shows a 19th century manor of Goussainville-Vieux Pays (REUTERS/Collection Charles Platiau) 
Exterior view of the same manor, now abandoned. Picture taken August 26, 2013 (REUTERS/Charles Platiau) 
Inside view of an abandoned 19th century manor in Goussainville-Vieux Pays, September 9, 2013 (REUTERS/Charles Platiau)
Inside view of an abandoned 19th century manor in Goussainville-Vieux Pays, September 9, 2013.  REUTERS/Charles Platiau 
A commercial airliner flies over the 14th century Saint-Pierre-et-Saint-Paul Church, which is classified as an historic monument, in Goussainville-Vieux Pays, August 28, 2013. (REUTERS/Charles Platiau) 
A commercial airliner flies over an abandoned 19th century manor in Goussainville-Vieux Pays. Picture taken September 9, 2013 (REUTERS/Charles Platiau)
Bookseller Nicolas Mahieu poses outside his bookstore in Goussainville-Vieux Pays, September 9, 2013. (REUTERS/Charles Platiau)
A letter box and a "Beware of the dog" sign are seen on a gate to an abandoned house in Goussainville-Vieux Pays, September 9, 2013 (REUTERS/Charles Platiau) 
Portraits of former residents appear on their grave at the cemetery of Goussainville-Vieux Pays (REUTERS/Charles Platiau) 
A car passes by abandoned houses at night in Goussainville-Vieux Pays, September 9, 2013. (REUTERS/Charles Platiau)
A former and grocery store is pictured at night in Goussainville-Vieux Pays, September 9, 2013 (REUTERS/Charles Platiau) 

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. a photo of the Eiffel Tower with the words "Made for Sharing" projected on it
    Life

    How France Tries to Keep English Out of Public Life

    France has a long history of using official institutions to protect the French language from outside influence. Still, English keeps working its way in.

  2. Warren Logan
    Transportation

    A City Planner Makes a Case for Rethinking Public Consultation

    Warren Logan, a Bay Area transportation planner, has new ideas about how to truly engage diverse communities in city planning. Hint: It starts with listening.

  3. People standing in line with empty water jugs.
    Environment

    Cape Town’s ‘Day Zero’ Water Crisis, One Year Later

    In spring 2018, news of the water crisis in South Africa ricocheted around the world—then the story disappeared. So what happened?

  4. An illustration of a turtle with a city on its shell
    Transportation

    Why Speed Kills Cities

    U.S. cities are dropping urban speed limits in an effort to boost safety and lower crash rates. But the benefits of less-rapid urban mobility don’t end there.  

  5. A photo of a police officer in El Paso, Texas.
    Equity

    What New Research Says About Race and Police Shootings

    Two new studies have revived the long-running debate over how police respond to white criminal suspects versus African Americans.

×