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French Connections by Marc Herman
The Atlantic, October 2010

Among the things European socialism does better than American capitalism is concoct ways to save dying farm towns. Our host that night, Stef, had left a stressful job as an arbitrage trader in Paris and taken a government grant to rebuild the gorgeous farmhouse where we were to sleep. The French gîte system began in the '50s but took off in the '80s. Agricultural life had changed. Rural districts were finding it hard to keep young people down on the farm, indeed, once they'd seen Paris. At the same time, the old barns became attractive to foreigners dreaming of their own year in Provence.

Jennie Rothenberg Gritz is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where she edits digital features.

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