Elected by Les Républicains (LR) to head La Bollène-Vésubie in 2014, then re-elected in 2020, Martine Barengo-Ferrier knows well the difficulties of municipal existence. Located off the main axis of Vésubie, this village of about 500 inhabitants relies especially on the famous Col de Turini and its car and bicycle races.
What do you think characterizes your municipality?
I hesitate. I would say that it is a village, a forest, but a very important aspect is focused on sports, especially motor sports, we have a social, brotherly and generational spirit. We pay attention to each other.
What does this have to do with motorsport?
We have four or five races a year, passing through the city, the most iconic of which is the Monte-Carlo Rally, where the Col de Turini is famous. We love motor sports. When this happens to us, arguments with new residents are left out. But the historical residents consider it our heritage. In addition, we hosted three important cycling meetings. This is what makes our city famous. In Germany, La Bollène-Vésubie speaks to no one, but Colonel de Turini, everyone knows it.
What do these events bring you?
This is our glory. Then we could work more on image. I have no communication service. But on a day-to-day basis, it supports our business during slow periods. The Monte Carlo rally isn’t what it used to be, but 20 years ago, traders said they made fifteen days’ profits from August in one weekend. In January, this is not insignificant.
Do you think these are future events?
Rallies are becoming more and more controversial, it’s a reality from environmentalists, all of that. We’ve seen teams get stuck in the middle of the road during world championships. Personally, when it comes to the environment, I’m betting on science, not extremes. The evolution of cars, cleaner, can continue this rally. But as president of the Association of Alpine-Sea Islands Forest Municipalities, I am not indifferent to climate change issues.
We are talking about Colonel de Turini. How to revive a village that is not on the main axis of Vésubie and is at the foot of the pass?
This is the whole difficulty of managing this commune. Those who go to La Bollène do so mainly to access the pass. We know this well, so we want to preserve the sport. It is also the access to the Vallée des Merveilles (hiking), the Authion massif, a huge viewpoint, military fortifications…
A lot of things that dry up the world. The difficulty is that the Col de Turini is shared between the Nice-Côte d’Azur Metropolis and the French Riviera urban community (Carf) with the municipality of Moulinet. We are at the bottom of two agglomerations from one side or the other. It is not easy to manage.
This requires coordination between the two departments. For example, we have been experiencing mail and identity problems for years. The inhabitants of La Bollène depend on L’Escarène in Paillon.
They sometimes wait two weeks for their mail. For years, Métropole provided the containers for household waste, but it was Carf who did the collection. When it snows, I go to work. Two subdivisions of the department and one Metropolitan will clean 4 kilometers of roads. There are many such small things.
What is the future of the Turini Camp silver station?
It is managed by the Vésubie Valdeblore mixed association. We are the only resort that requires 100% natural snow. We open only when it snows. We welcome many schoolchildren and audiences from Roya, Bévéra and Paillon in general. It is difficult to form a close relationship, we are not in the same area of life.
They don’t go through the village. I would say that the turnover is 50-70 thousand euros per year. We tried to install a cannon last year, but it’s complicated, especially for the water supply. As long as it snows. We are still at an altitude of 1800 m. But we know very well that in the long term this will be questioned.
How did you experience the legislative campaign between Marine Brenier and Christelle d’Intorni and, more broadly, the conflict between Christian Estrosi and Éric Ciotti?
Like many of my colleagues (laughs). The tension is not encouraging, we would like everything to be fine. We are dealing with it. The reality is that many of our skills are transferable. We need Metropolis. LR as I take a more political and personal stance. Not against Metropolis.
Renovating the Cassini Hotel
“This is the flagship project of our mandate. We bought it in 2019. We will start work in the first quarter of 2023. It will serve as a reception area especially for the big urban cycling route plan. The upper floor will have accommodation, a meeting room, a restaurant, we will reopen the bar…”
Update the swimming pool
“It deserves a makeover. Today it’s a traditional swimming pool, but we’d like to have more family-friendly facilities. That’s something we’re learning.”