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Set In Stone? Franco-Belgian Border Moved By Bold Farmer And A Boulder

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

The border between France and Belgium was recently redrawn, but not because of a political dispute. Instead, it was a farmer. A big stone on his land was apparently bothering him, so he dug it up and dumped it about 7 1/2 feet away in the forest.

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

The stone, it turns out, is a border marker that marks the line between France and Belgium. And by moving it, the farmer inadvertently made Belgium a little bit bigger and France that much smaller. A history buff out for a walk in the woods spotted that the stone was out of place.

SHAPIRO: The mayor of the Belgian village Erquelinnes, about 40 miles south of Brussels, was delighted.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

DAVID LAVAUX: (Non-English language spoken).

SHAPIRO: David Lavaux told a French newspaper he was happy his town was bigger. But the mayor of the neighboring French town didn't agree.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

AURELIE WELONEK: (Non-English language spoken).

SHAPIRO: The mayor of the French border city, Aurelie Welonek, said she trusted that her Belgian colleague would do what is necessary to have the farmer move the boundary stone back.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

WELONEK: (Non-English language spoken).

CHANG: The stone is one of many placed some 200 years ago to mark the border between France and Belgium. The local Belgian authorities plan to ask the farmer to put the stone back. If he doesn't, they might have to summon a Franco-Belgian border commission, which last met in 1930. Let's hope it doesn't come to that. But until the stone moves, the relationship between these two countries might be a little rocky.

(SOUNDBITE OF CARIBOU'S "DUNDAS, ONTARIO") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Ailsa Chang is an award-winning journalist who hosts All Things Considered along with Ari Shapiro, Audie Cornish, and Mary Louise Kelly. She landed in public radio after practicing law for a few years.
Ari Shapiro has been one of the hosts of All Things Considered, NPR's award-winning afternoon newsmagazine, since 2015. During his first two years on the program, listenership to All Things Considered grew at an unprecedented rate, with more people tuning in during a typical quarter-hour than any other program on the radio.
Sam Yellowhorse Kesler is an Assistant Producer for Planet Money. Previously, he's held positions at NPR's Ask Me Another & All Things Considered, and was the inaugural Code Switch Fellow. Before NPR, he interned with World Cafe from WXPN. He graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, and continues to reside in Philadelphia. If you want to reach him, try looking in your phone contacts to see if he's there! You'd be surprised how many people are in there that you forgot about.
Caroline Kelly