When you are thinking of things to do in and around Paris you are most likely to think of places such as the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, Champs-Élysées or Versailles. A small Ghost Town on the outskirts is probably not the first place that you would think to go, however don’t be afraid of venturing off the beaten track, it might surprise you.
Goussainville-Vieux Pays is located near Charles de Gaulle airport, and is just a 30 minute drive from the centre of Paris. Already skeptical about the construction of the nearby airport, tragedy struck for this once picturesque farming town in the early 1970s when a Russian plane crashed into the local school during an air show, killing 8 residents. Fearing that this would become a more regular occurrence and suffering from the almost deafening sound of planes overhead, many residents fled their homes and moved elsewhere; leaving much of the town abandoned. Today, most of this town remains deserted with just a few residents continuing to live among the decaying buildings, and a new town of Goussainville has been constructed just a few kilometres away.
After looking through photos of this little town and hearing stories from other people who had visited it I became intrigued by this place and I decided that I absolutely had to go and have a look for myself. This Ghost Town certainly didn’t disappoint!
Our first port of call was the Chateau, which was once the residence of the village’s wealthiest inhabitants. Since the 1970s this Chateau has remained empty and the roof, along with part of the walls, have collapsed. However, there is still something truly magical about this decaying beauty, and it is so easy to imagine how it once looked in its full glory. The park that surrounds this Chateau provides a lovely picnic spot (weather-dependent!), and you can sit down and watch the planes fly over the roof.
The regular sound of planes overhead disturbs the peace and provides a constant reminder of the town’s past. However, for visitors who do not have to experience the noise on a daily basis, there is definitely something very exciting about watching the planes flying over the Chateau. The number of planes departing from Charles de Gaulle airport each day certainly provides ample opportunity for visitors to witness this first hand!
Throughout the town, many of the abandoned houses are still furnished and it is likely that many residents fled their homes in a hurry, taking only their most valuable possessions with them. Walking down the street it is possible to peer inside many of these deserted houses whilst getting a glimpse into what life was once like for the villagers.
The village bookstore is one of the only businesses that has remained open. This bookstore is only open three days, and closes for the whole of February and August. There are also a number of books on display outside the shop which you are free to take if you want. However, most other businesses within the town closed down long ago and, like the houses, have been boarded up and left to decay.
If you ever find yourself in Paris wanting to experience something different then a visit to the Ghost Town of Goussainville-Vieux Pays is highly recommended!