Helicopter flights and patrols on one side, calls for reinforcements and rallies on the other: gendarmes and zadistes sharpen their preparations this weekend before the expulsion operation of the occupants of the ZAD of Notre- Dame-des-Landes, announced as imminent, nearly three months after the abandonment of the airport project.
"It's calm before the storm," sums up Lucas, a "militant brewer" installed in the heart of the occupied area, which covers 1,650 hectares. But, "the stress begins to rise" because "we know they will put the package."
The operation, scheduled for the beginning of the week, must mobilize over several days twenty-five squadrons mobile gendarmerie, or about 2,500 soldiers. It plans to expel all those who have not regularized their situation, for example by declaring new individual agricultural projects.
Almost all the estimated 250 zadists on the spot did not do so, preferring collective management the territory and the possibility of conducting non-agricultural projects.
"All those who do not fall within the framework of the legality will have to leave the grounds quickly", repeated Sunday the Prime Minister, Édouard Philippe, in an interview
For its part, Acipa, the main association of opponents of the former airport project, called on the state "not to start the process of expulsions and violence" and to privilege "the dialogue".
If the ZAD is not yet surrounded by law enforcement, several vehicles patrolled disc throughout the weekend in the surrounding communities, to prevent any introduction of fuel, hazardous materials or objects that can be used as weapons.
Helicopters also fly over the area, a usual scenario for several weeks.  It is a "flexible" device, "without checkpoints or fixed station", explains to AFP a source close to the file, considering that there is, for the moment, "no need to show us more "
The emblematic artery of the occupied zone, the" ex-chicane route ", cleared of its various obstacles and rehabilitated after the announcement of the abandonment of the airport, remained however, under close surveillance and closed to traffic
– "Return and rebuild" –
Opposites, the occupants have already warned: they will lead a "physical and determined resistance".
Hard to know for now the form it will take but "there will surely be a game of cat and mouse", anticipates a zadiste. Another evokes the preparation of molotov cocktails.
Two large gatherings are scheduled as early as 4:00 am Monday, followed by a distribution on the various points of blockage.
Barricades, sit-ins, supplies in care and food: "everyone will find his way to join the fight", explains to AFP "Camille", the common pseudonym of occupants of the ZAD.
Calls for reinforcements were launched … and heard: more cars and occupants were circulating in the area on Sunday. "People have come from everywhere not to leave us alone in front of the police and backhoe loaders," says Camille.
Just like everyday life on the ZAD, each district will organize its resistance. "There is not a general, nor a command post, it is in autonomy", continues the zadiste.
He dreams, like many, of a reissue of the fiasco of the "operation César", the name of the previous attempt to evacuate the site, launched in the fall of 2012 by the government of Jean-Marc Ayrault, ardent defender of the airport project.
"This is not the same fight. we will have all the supports? ", nuances another zadiste, in reference to the tensions which would take place between legitimist and radical occupants.
"Everything is wrong, all together, we ate in the same bowl, we can not abandon each other," swears his neighbor.
Farmers will be "on the spot with tractors" , announces Vincent Delabouglise, member of Copains 44, collective of agricultural organizations. "The government comes to set fire on a territory where things began to subside," he sighs, saying "fear the worst."
"There will be arrested people, destroyed homes. ZAD is not going to be razed, people will come back and rebuild, "warns Camille
In parallel, the occupiers are fighting on the legal ground.
In a letter sent on Saturday to Édouard Philippe, their lawyers denounced unlawful expulsion procedures because they carried out "in defiance of the rights (…) guaranteed by the code of the civil procedures of execution and, more generally, of Right wing state". In the case of deportation, they announced their intention to bring appeals to convict the state.