Just 12 miles north of central Paris lies one of the world’s most fascinating and tragic ghost towns. Wandering into the picturesque farming village of Goussainville-Vieux Pays is like stepping back in time.
Virtually abandoned for over 40 years, the end effectively came for the pretty Parisian suburb when the cutting-edge world of supersonic air travel came crashing down upon it.
For years life in Goussainville-Vieux Pays had remained peaceful. But in the mid-1960s the rural community was thrust into the proposed flightpath of Paris Charles de Gaulle airport. Then, in 1973, a year before the new airport opened, the tranquility of Goussainville-Vieux Pays was shattered forever.
On June 3 that year, a Russian-built Tupolev Tu-144 supersonic airliner crashed during the Paris Airshow held at neaby Le Bourget. After an unsuccessful landing approach, the stricken jet entered a steep dive and disintegrated in mid-air.
All six crew members were killed as the remains of their aircraft crashed down onto Goussainville-Vieux Pays, destroying 15 houses and a school. A further eight people on the ground perished in the crash.
Shaken residents, some perhaps envisioning the tragedy as a harbinger of things to come, rapidly deserted the village. Others hung on, but within a year of Charles de Gaulle opening most had followed, haunted by the 1973 tragedy and no longer able the bear the constant roar of jet engines from France’s largest and busiest international airport.
Though a handful of hardy residents still occupy their original homes and businesses, the majority stand shuttered and dilapidated, as if their owners had simply disappeared.