Tuesday, 29 January 2013

France's best kept secret?

Life in the Parc naturel regional du Morvan, is rural, unspoilt and completely surrounded by nature and wildlife. A breathtaking landscape of hills, low mountains, forests, lakes and streams with the cleanest air in Europe and untouched by the centuries.

"Our" parc is in the coeur, the heart of Burgundy and one of 48 parc naturel regionals across France. Le parc du Morvan was set up in 1970 and has a strong rural identity that was in danger of being lost. Generations had moved out, abandoing the remote, tough, farming way of life to live in cities and earn a more lucrative living. Many communities were dying, with just a handful of old timers trying to eek out a lonely existence.

A parc is governed by a national federation but it gives power to local communities who understand the beauty of their own environment and also the importance of being able to earn a living from their surroundings.  The basic principles focus on protection, improvement and understanding of the environment.  

The payoff for living in a regional parc is that the beauty of the area will be maintained and improved, there will be no new motorways, nuclear plants or unsightly developments. So, if you want to paint your shutters, restore, make major improvements or build a new house, there are guidelines to follow issued by the maison du parc. 

Sports and leisure activities such as hiking, cycling, canoeing, hunting, shooting and fishing help are promoted.  Cultural heritage is highlighted - musuems, exhibitions, village fetes and musical events - all help build a community spirit and promote the parc. Agriculture, heritage, old traditions, nature, and tourism are also supported by the parc boosting the local economy and bringing life to hundreds of small communities across the Morvan.

The regional parc system proves that a rural area can flourish from its own natural and human resources - that can only be a positive thing for the future of the French countryside.


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