6 Bibracte-Morvan: ancient paths into the future

6a. Location

Morvan is a medium mountain range located in the western part of the administrative region of Burgundy-
Franche-Comté, in central-eastern France. This massif is largely included in the territory of the Morvan Regional
Natural Park, which covers 2,900 km2 and has a population of 50,000 inhabitants. Bibracte is a heritage site of national interest (the site of a 1st c. BC fortified town) located on one of the summits of the Morvan, Mont-Beuvray. A territorial project was launched in 2013 around the site as part of the national policy of the Grands Sites de France (GSF); this project concerns 160 km2 and 2,500 inhabitants. In 2016, Bibracte was awarded the special mention for sustainable development by the European Museum Forum. It was recognized in 2019 by the Council of Europe as an example of good practice in the field of heritage management and spatial development for its Strategy 21 for European cultural heritage

Responsible partner: Bibracte


6b. Context

Morvan has a rural landscape of heritage quality, which benefits from a very strong connection with its inhabitants. This landscape has changed considerably since the beginning of the 20th century under the combined effects of the drastic fall in population (75%) and the reorganisation of agricultural and forestry production systems. This evolution, which is continuing at a sustained pace, is reflected in particular by the increase in the importance of the forest, as well as by its radical transformation: the implementation of industrial forestry processes (massive introduction of resinous species, mechanized operations by clear-cutting) and by the effects of climate change (rapid disappearance of certain species, such as Picea Abies). The heritage quality of the landscape has enabled the development of a diffuse, predominantly family-based “green” tourism, which still has significant scope for development. The tourist and residential economy is dependent on one particular feature linked to the sharp fall in population: the high proportion of houses converted into second homes, which form a housing stock that is still insufficiently developed. Moreover, there is an almost complete disconnection between the various economic sectors, particularly between agriculture and tourism, where involvement in the tourism sector is undoubtedly a resilience factor for agriculture, which is currently suffering from its hyper-specialisation in the beef sector. The Morvan territory is also characterised by a strong fragmentation of public action between many levels of community. In this context, Bibracte is a pole of attraction for the territory, thanks to the setting up, at the initiative of the Ministry of Culture, of a public establishment, BIBRACTE EPCC, dedicated to the integrated management of the site (protected public domain of 1000 ha, museum receiving 50,000 visitors / year, archaeological research centre widely open on the international). Bibracte acts as a testing ground for PNR Morvan, within the framework of the GSF policy conducted by the Ministry in charge of the environment and landscapes. The GSF label, obtained in 2008, renewed every six years and co-managed by BIBRACTE EPCC and PNR Morvan, seeks to promote a territorial development project based on a shared requirement for landscape quality and taking into account all the activities of the territory (agriculture, forestry, tourism, energy, etc.). Since 2013, the GSF approach around Bibracte has been supported by a multidisciplinary scientific consortium (geography, agronomy, sociology, etc.).


6c. Actions

The actions consist in developing the tourist and residential economy around Bibracte as a facet of an integrated territorial innovation project, based on the preservation of its heritage quality and mobilizing all the economic activities and all the actors in the territory. The approach will be based in particular on the strong involvement of local stakeholders organized into interest groups according to a geographical (village communities) or sectoral (agriculture, services…) logic and the mobilization of adapted engineering resources (sociology of participation, territorial tourist intelligence, agricultural innovation…), by taking advantage of a scientific and professional community already associated with the Grand Site de France programme. The approach will be based, in particular, on a participatory inventory of the territory’s heritage, with distinct attention to the dense network of public tracks and paths (estimated at 12,000 km in the territory of the PNR Morvan) in this mountainous area where the habitat is traditionally dispersed, this network benefiting from the particular engagement of the population. It is also proposed to set up an observatory of the territory’s tourist activity which will serve as a basis for reflection shared with local actors.


6d. Communities involved

Local communities (esp. at the village range = 8 communes for ca. 2,500 inhabitants); local charities concerned with heritage; professional organizations, esp. in agriculture (Chambre régionale d’agriculture), forestry (Centre régional de la Propriété forestière), tourism (several partners at the local and regional level); sports and leisure organizations (hiking, hunting…).


6e. Expected results

The tourist activity is being deployed in a way that has been judged positively by the local players, allowing the diversification of the offer of stays around Bibracte, the diversification of the agricultural economy, the strengthening of the residential attractiveness of the area, the maintenance of a service offer, the preservation/restoration of the heritage quality of the landscape, the strengthening of the social cohesion of the area, the optimisation of the ecological impact of tourist activity. The ambition is also stated to serve as a pilot project on the scale of the region, of the Réseau des Grands Sites de France and the Fédération des Parcs naturels régionaux (with more than fifty members in each of these two networks on a national scale).


6f. Associated partners

Maison du patrimoine oral de Bourgogne – MPOB (expertise in sociology and participation); tourism expertise unit EVALTO (territorial touristic intelligence); Réseau des Grands Sites de France – RGSF & Fédération des Parcs naturels régionaux de France – FPNRF (expertise in the management of territories of high heritage value); Maison des sciences de l’Homme et de l’Environnement Claude-Nicolas Ledoux– MSHE (expertise in GIS); Région Bourgogne-Franche-Comté– RBFC (as a financial support and a guarantee for replicability at the regional level).


6g. Cross border and international nature of the pilot case

Bibracte candidates for the 2020 edition of the European Heritage Awards / Europa Nostra competition. In the same logic, it is already planned to apply for the European Heritage Label.


6h. Innovations

Territorial innovation through the integrative and participative approach of heritage and landscape in the construction of territorial development projects, through the use of heritage and landscape as levers for the construction of such projects.