A local told me a wonderful story about contry politics. You know, the kind of stories city people just love to hear.
At the far end of the departement on a deserted highland, lived three tiny villages. Just to picture their isolation from the wide world: when the old tunnel of the valley road crumbled, they had to drive fifty kilometers, by other roads, to shop for groceries. For a year.
One village is deeply catholic. The second one is fiercely protestant. The last one is communist. The three of them have been hating each other for a few centuries. Population count of each hamlet: around twenty people in winter time. A few years ago, the prefet (highest ranking local official, in France) ordered them to merge in one administrative village, for rationality sake. He was tired of signing barely legal council decisions, where every consellors had the same surname. The father, the brother, the son, the uncle, the cousin...
It was hell The worst came when they had to pick a name for the new "town". On the verge of nervous breakdown, the Prefet took the name of the nearest brook, on a map, and wrote "Val" in front of it (Valley). That settled it. You bet. It went from bad to worse with time. The new town, "Val something",is uncontrolable. Lawsuits, petitions, monthly uproars...The new Prefet has to administrate the town council from the big city, by remote court orders and state injuctions.