Vierzon is a town composed of different “quartiers” or sections, as different from each other as the city is to the country. I’m staying in the medieval quartier, and when I walk through “Le Beffroi” the belfrey of the twelfth century church of Notre Dame, I can feel a residue of the sorcery that the old quarter was famous for. But as I makr my way don6own, I encounter signs of modern life in the newer areas like the railway station which was heavily bombarded during the second world war. During those difficult times Vierzon was a centre of resistance against the Nazis. The homeowner, now friend, Im sitting for , told me stories of those times. Apparently the people who had lived in her house were “Maquis” or resistants against the brutal occupiers Some Nazis however were lodged in the house adjacent! After the war when the garden was renovated, a cache of arms was found in the dried up well, no doubt to be used in the ongoing struggle. From June 1940 to March 1943, Vierzon was cut in two; an occupied zone was created and one the was free. The river Cher which traverses the town, was the demarcation point.
Today Vierzon is a multi-cultural city with a rich industrial heritage. From the 1860’s to the 1950’s it was a thriving factory town which produced machinery (tractors mostly) which were exported wo5ldwide . But the tides of business changed and now unemployment is a feature of life here. Despite those difficulties, I find the people here warm and respectful, which is not always the case in places touched by economic hardship.
Although the imprints of mechanisation still remain, Vierzon is surrounded by the beautiful French countryside. On a sparkling day I decided on a meandrr by bike along the canal which runs through the yown and out into the countryside. I stopped to have lunch in a shady spot and was sutprised to find a monument in the woods bordering the canal. I thought it a strange spot for such a thing until I read the inscription. It was the place where these brave fighters were executed. I was deeply touched and as I continued my joutney, thought of the courage of the “Maquis Vierzonnais”and of the resilience of the modern day residents of this city both old and new.