A quiet rural village in central France has registered its first birth in half a century, with the happy event making national news amid concern about the desertification of certain rural areas.
Indeed, the picturesque farming village of Auge in the Creuse department, was so unused to newborns that its mayor was flummoxed as to how to have the birth added to the civil registry, the Daily Telegraph reports.
Had things gone to plan, the dearth of births in Auge would not have been broken as Axelle Brugère was born in the garden of her parents' home in the middle of the night because they didn't have time to rush her mother Cyrielle to the nearest maternity.
As a landscape gardener, the father, Jean, was reportedly pleased as punch.
"It's a thing of beauty, no? My daughter, my little flower, was born in the middle of the garden," he told France Bleu.
Not used to disturbances, neighbours in the village, most of whose residents are aged, were a little worried to notice a flashing blue light at 2am before learning of the happy news.
But when the young couple took their baby into the town hall to be registered a few days later, the local mayor was at a loss as to how to proceed.
"We had the birth register, no worries about that, but we use it more to register deaths than births. We were just concerned that we'd fill it in wrong," said Élisabeth Henry, the Mayor.
"With my secretary we had to take a look around as neither of has had to deal with such an issue," she told France Bleu. She was forced to call a neighbouring town hall to ask for help.
Marie-Thérèse, a retired villager said she was delighted. "We are very pleased to have this little girl. The village is not very populous as many of the houses are shut up," she said.
The mother Cyrielle, said she was very proud as Axelle is the village's 100th inhabitant.
The Creuse is the second most sparsely populated département in France after the Lozère in the Cévennes and like many other villages in the area, half of Auge's inhabitants are over 60 years old.
The village has seen its population dipping fairly steadily for over a century and France Bleu reported that the local school has long since closed and many homes have been abandoned as locals sought more dynamic places to live.
The mayor said she hoped news of Axelle's birth would attract other families to the village.
Declining rural populations and the schools and public services that go with them has become a hot topic in France's presidential elections, whose first round is on April 23.
In particular Marine Le Pen, the Front National candidate, has promised to champion "forgotten France", alternating mass rallies in cities with visits to tiny villages where FN scores have rocketed in recent years.