Chemins Rurale are the ancient roadways around rural France. Some have been made into proper roads, some, like the one along one edge of our property have been made into gravelled tracks and some are just remnants left among the trees.
We have a remnant one between us and our neighbours that is obvious in that there is an overgrown gap between their fence and the line of sizeable trees but it disappears into our woodland. According to the plan cadastre it marks the edge of our property through the wood but we have never known exactly where it is and haven't ever bothered. We have 5 acres of wood and a little bit more or less doesn't bother us or the neighbour apparently.
This week Bernard (the mayor's righthand man) has obviously been delegated by the Comite des Fetes to sort out a new route for the annual Easter Egg Hunt that doesn't use any of the proper roads and has come up with the idea of using this chemin.
He appeared at the door asking if he could cut his way through our wood to a path Him Outdoors uses with the tractor so that the local little dears wouldn't get run over on the road. Much smiling and hand shaking and admiring our house and some discussion and off he went with a 'you think about it and let me know'.
We decided that actually we didn't want the commune deciding that they had right of way through our wood having used it once (the path they want to use is within view of the house) and drew up a plan that either they could walk the other way along our drive, across the field and into the wood which would involve no work but a bit of walking on the road. Or they could sort out the chemin rurale properly which would involve much earthwork/tree felling but maintain our boundary and keep everyone well away from our house.
I was delegated to go tell Bernard. Got his wife, who is sweet, explained it all to her and she agreed that of course we didn't want everyone through our land and of course that would be alright and she would explain it to Bernard when he got back.
Bernard arrives home full of smiles and ignores completely what we have just agreed, no we have to go down the chemin rurale and across the wood and it will be fine.
Him Outdoors has a dicky fit about 'some french butcher in his wood'.
Next day Bernard's strimming in the pouring rain. We pop out to see what he is actually doing and agree that it would be much more sensible if the walkers went along the field not through the wood and we seem to have reached a compromise. I think. Possibly. Maybe.
It shows up another difficulty with not speaking the language properly. Anyone that smiles at you is a good person. Anyone that talks to you and smiles must be ok. Maybe, just maybe, they are actually full of themselves and railroad everyone into doing what they think. But you aint going to find out for a while.