Regional Natural Park of Baronnies Provençales, Drome, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, France

Regional Natural Park of Baronnies Provençales, located between Vercors, Drôme, Mont Ventoux, the pre-Alps and the valley of the Durance, the Baronnies of Provence form a place that has remained unknown for a long time, being located away from the main traffic axes, long withdrawn because it has an exaggeratedly tortuous and labyrinthine relief. This medium-high limestone massif, a vestige of an ancient seabed with original geology and impressive shapes, has always stood on the borders and the border of multiple influences.

Walk the adret of the mountains, to the south, and you will cross scrubland of thyme, lavender, groves of holm oaks, arid lawns once traversed by herds, forests of white oaks, boxwood, more and more won through the pines. Switch to the other side, in the shade of the ubacs, and these north-facing slopes will immediately take on a more boreal character, covering the paths with the coolness of deeper beech groves. A limestone country fragmented in every sense, but with a generous basement retaining water, the Baronnies do not have the monotony or drought of other southern plateaus. It is a real landscape puzzle.

The Regional Natural Park of Baronnies Provençales offers an extremely rich but fragile natural heritage as well. More than 149 natural habitat sites coexist and allow the flourishing of around 2,000 plant species (22 of which are considered priority in terms of conservation) and 203 animal species protected at national or regional level (including 54 of community interest such as The vultures).

Straddling the Departments of Drôme and Hautes-Alpes, the Baronnnies of Provence were once contested by the Count of Provence and the Pope to the south and the Dauphin to the north. But, due to the harshness of its mountains and its climate, the relative isolation of the Baronnies also represented a guarantee for the preservation of its autonomy. A natural fortress bristling with dozens of castles and fortified sites, the Baronnies were, in the Middle Ages, the possession of an extended family of independent “barons” responding only to the direct authority of the Emperor, and divided into several branches, called by the name of their stronghold, the “Mévouillon”, the “Montauban” or the “Mison”.

Open to the foothills of the West and the East, Nyonsais or the Buëch valley, the Provencal Baronnies benefited from close contacts and multiple exchanges with the outside world. The age of a route, which crossed the massif, connecting Languedoc and Comtat Venaissin in the west to Italy in the east via the Larche or Montgenèvre pass, attests to this openness to the outside. The lost autonomy of the barons at the beginning of the 14th century could reappear punctually, especially during the religious wars of the 16th century, which saw the Baronnies of Provence transform for a time into a vast Protestant bastion.

History of the park
The Provencal Baronnies have never been a totally “deserted” place. Territory forgotten by the industrialization of the 19th century, dedicated to mixed farming and breeding, the Baronnies of Provence have long preserved the traditional forms of rural societies, punctuated, until the middle of the 20th century, by agricultural work, markets, the life of the villages, so well described by Barjavel, a native of Nyons.

A region of passage and of habitation from the Neolithic era, rich in numerous traces of habitation and exploitation in the Iron Age, former territory of the Voconces precociously Romanized, the Baronnies of Provence were also a region of encounter between cultures. We find its southern character, among others, in the rural architecture with the use of the canal tile, in the cultivation of aromatic plants or the olive tree, but we can also detect more northern and mountainous influences in the dialect.

Crossed by the northern limit of the presence of the olive tree, cultivated here since antiquity, the Baronnies are authentically Provençal. But it is a mountainous Provence, a mosaic Provence, constantly attenuated or asserted according to the altitude and latitude.

Recent but marked developments in agriculture have considerably modified landscapes and terroirs in recent decades. Mechanization has made many hedges disappear. The ancient canals have been abandoned or replaced by sprinkling. The dry stone terraces on the well-exposed hillsides devoted to vines or olive trees have been abandoned. The forest, advancing on land traversed by too rare herds, the life of men fell back on the valley floors. The land, formerly domesticated including at high altitudes, is now becoming waterless, giving the region, as soon as one leaves the cultivated valley bottoms, the picturesque character of a wild region.

The idea of creating a regional natural park in the Baronnies, straddling two departments (Drôme and Hautes-Alpes) and two regions (Rhône-Alpes and Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur) dates from the end of the 1990s. Locally, it was launched by the Groupement pour la Promotion et l’Expansion du Nyonsais Baronnies and local elected representatives around parliamentarians Jean Besson and Michel Grégoire and the Mayor of Nyons Michel Faure, who were aware of the economic difficulties of this very rural region. where agriculture remains threatened and development fragile. In 2003, the two regional councils decided to finance an opportunity and feasibility study which enabled them to take a joint deliberation on December 17, 2004 retaining a perimeter (130 municipalities concerned) and organizational principles.

The March 30, 2007, the Prefect of Drôme, noting that a majority of municipalities and communities of municipalities concerned had given their consent, publishes a decree creating a mixed union to prefigure a regional natural park and development of the Baronnies Provençales. Its mission is to carry out studies and actions of common interest in the service of all the municipalities of the territory concerned. These actions will contribute in particular to the prefiguration of a regional natural park. The Syndicat Mixte finalized innovember 2011the park charter which was submitted to all the municipalities concerned for a vote. The park project was submitted to a public inquiry fromJune 20 at July 22, 2011.

Visitors traveling through the Baronnies of Provence will certainly not fail to be struck quickly enough by the strangeness of the shapes of their relief and the omnipresence of the mineral in exaggeratedly distorted configurations and textures. Like the pages of a stone book that would have been abused, everything appears only folds and folds: this recurring motif emerges as soon as you approach the country, like a signature, a trademark, sometimes sinuous, sometimes singularly geometric, millefeuilles overturned or ridges spinning towards the sky.

On a larger scale, the mountains as a whole, on the other hand, appear to be the most disorderly, like a pile of large limestone slabs, at first glance devoid of any logic, as if they were parts of a huge building that would have been broken by inhuman forces, making the orientation sometimes complicated in this maze of rocks. Sometimes cliffs line up, isolated shapes stand out: it feels like a huge open-air sculpture gallery.

The change of scenery felt in these landscapes can be intense: on the arid, black, gray or blue slopes of the marls, dunes of soft rock, the child, the whimsical spirit or the poet will have little difficulty in believing himself to tread a lunar or Martian soil, another country, another world.

Geology marks and contributes to fundamentally determine the Baronnies of Provence, explaining as well the forms of agriculture, culture and history which were its own. A change of scenery at the highest point for visitors to the flat-country, and therefore a possible tourist asset, an enchanting daily setting for the inhabitants, sometimes a source of risks, it is in all cases obvious that geology is a fundamental aspect of the territory and therefore of concern for a Regional Natural Park.

Geology, soils, mountains, although present everywhere under our feet and around us, are not homogeneous, nor uniformly of interest to scientists or the public. Certain places are windows on eras, forms, non-existent or invisible elsewhere, which “speak” more than others, have in this a value for research, for teaching, for pedagogy, a “cultural” value. in general, scientific value in some cases.

So much so that in the Baronnies of Provence, two world reference sites have been recognized internationally serving as standards for the study of two transition periods (“boundary stratotypes”) all over the world: the vertical strata of the Serre de l ‘Donkey, in La Charce (Drôme), a site now accessible and open to visitors, and the marls of Mont Risou, in Saint André de Rosans (Hautes Alpes). Many other places, although of less scientific value, are exemplary, impressive or unique in France, and as such deserve attention.

Geology can also conceal and hide treasures: fossils, minerals or rare atypical formations (ammonites, septarias, sandstone oolites, in Châteauneuf-de-Bordette and elsewhere on the territory). These, depending on the case, may deserve to be protected, because although – for some – abundant in the basement, their outcrop areas, their windows of visibility in the open air under the gaze of men and… also within easy reach, can be limited, and in the case of degradation or looting, return to total invisibility these riches for thousands of years to come, deprive our contemporaries as our descendants of their spectacle, hamper the work of present or future scientists.

What constitutes heritage, in the geology of the Baronnies of Provence, apart from certain types of geological “high places” or certain fossils or point minerals, it is also and even above all the whole: the general picture of a aquatic world that has become solid, which can still be guessed. The main approach considered relevant by the Park is therefore that of geological landscapes: how and where to survey them in order to admire their shapes, how to make them “readable” and understandable to everyone.

It is another time that one walks, the fossil of a disappeared landscape: another landscape, a seascape. By their contrast so strongly with the appearance of the more ordered landscapes which adjoin it (the beautiful unity of the Vercors plateau, the massive simplicity of Ventoux, the softness of the hills of Drôme, Tricastin, the curves of the Luberon), the Baronnies Provençal is in fact what geologists call a “discordance”: the rocks which appear here in broad daylight not only are not seen elsewhere, but seem to have been modeled with much more energy than in other regions.

Everything can be explained by the geological history and the nature of the rocks present. At the end of the Jurassic (around 150 million years ago), a huge ocean, called Tethys, covered part of the globe and separated lands that would one day become Europe and Asia from others that would be the ‘Africa. This ocean, now almost completely closed, gave birth to the Mediterranean. The Rhône valley, the Alps, do not exist. An arm of the ocean of Téthys borders the east coasts of a large mountainous island corresponding to the future Massif Central, and extends to the south of a shoal area which will one day be the Vercors, the Jura and further afield. Germanic Europe.

This vast basin, which is not a real pit, is several hundred meters deep (approximately 1000 m deep at its deepest point) and covers what today extends from the Baronnies of Provence to the Diois, the first being the deepest area. It is called the Vocontian Basin (because it corresponds roughly to the geographical area once inhabited by the proto-Roman people of Voconces settled in the region in antiquity). It was formed for the benefit of faults in the terrestrial mantle having subsided the older Triassic soils, in particular at the foot of the zone corresponding to Ventoux.

Deposits descended from surrounding land by erosion, as well as materials of organic origin from marine animal and plant micro-plankton, calcium in particular, pour out, accumulate and sediment. These organisms – their traces or their skeletons at least – can be seen today in the state of fossils, ranging from microscopic to ammonite holding in the hand, up to, sometimes, the marine dinosaur (ichthyosaurs). Deposition and stratification last several tens of millions of years, accumulating, depending on the location, from several hundred meters to several thousand meters thick. The region remains underwater for a long time, while other lands see dinosaurs extend their rule.

In the Vocontian Basin, two main types of rocks alternate depending on climatic conditions. These are the two main motifs still visible in the landscape today: limestones, rather hard, and clayey marls, flexible, extremely plastic. At the end of the Jurassic and the beginning of the Cretaceous (approximately – 130 M years), one stratum in particular, the so-called Tithonic limestone, more solid than the others, is deposited and will constitute the skeleton of the Baronnies of Provence, the future framework and the future dominant motif of their landscapes: this is what we see today in our gorges, or on our summits, carved into cliffs.

This set of marl and limestone in place, particularly deformable, is seen for the first time bent during tectonic thrusts from the south, which caused the rise of the Pyrenees (formerly known as “pyrenean-Provençal”, approximately – 50 million years). They raise vast parallel undulations in all of Provence then covered with water, orientation east-west, of which the line Mont-Ventoux / Montagne de Lure still sets the tone today, and which mark the main directions of the mountains of the Provencal baronnies. However, the result is not the same in the soils of the Vocontian basin as in neighboring regions. While in these (future Vaucluse, future Vercors), less deep, the deposits are less thick,

The future Provencal Baronnies then saw their layers, flexible and “free”, fold with much more intensity. Later, when the ocean recedes and the land emerges, the Provencal Baronnies become a massif higher than the Vercors, but devoid of the more recent soils which cover the rest of Provence. Erosion can begin its work of dismembering the large limestone domes (the anticlines) which have become brittle in the open air and dig out the cradles reinforced by the tithonic layer (the synclines). The situation would be too simple if it had not yet intervened thereafter, the continuous thrusts coming from the north-east, accompanying the rise of the Alps, coming to fracture, deform and considerably complicate the forms of an already well worn relief,

In the succession of ridges and summits in the blues of the horizon, compared to the immensities of the plateaus hidden from everyday gaze from the valley bottoms, in the maze of valleys, gorges and folds of the Baronnies of Provence, or quite simply Unlike the peaceful countryside of Provence bordering the villages, certain places, certain passages, certain reliefs, certain shapes or buildings stand out, cut out picturesque silhouettes, impress by their stature, their power, their location. In one way or another, they are “monuments”: natural or human, minerals, plants, or built, they visibly embody the memory of places, they strike the senses and remain in the memory of the visitor.

The landscape is therefore not homogeneous, some of its heritages are remarkable more than others, whether it is for their particular historical or scientific value, the place they hold in the local culture or in the points of view on the landscape, the role of “showcase” that they can play, concentrating and summarizing the character of the entire territory. These “high places”, which deserve special attention in terms of knowledge, preservation or scientific, cultural and tourist recognition, are generally not scattered at random. Geographical logics, inherent in the forms of the territory, or historical, control and explain their distribution in the territory. These common threads can be natural axes (geological faults, gorges, rivers, old paths, transhumance routes), religious or political criteria inherited from the past, agrarian or pastoral logics (successions and networks of religious buildings, castles, grazing areas, microclimates or soils favorable to certain crops, etc.). Often, all these criteria are intertwined and combine to bring together unique elements in specific places.

Among these common threads, the roads and ancient routes of travel are an important element in the Baronnies of Provence, a partitioned country where getting around has always been “quite a story”. Two axes in particular see one another and stage chains of remarkable places and buildings. From Nyons to Serres, the old road from Spain to Italy, opened in the 19th century with great effort in the footsteps of the old Roman road and medieval paths, crossing right through the northern half of the Baronnies of Provence, allows, from west to east, to go back in geological time, by traversing an alternation of locks, gorges (those of the Eygues in particular), vast basins (Rosanais), punctuated by villages, nested or perched, the ruins of dungeons, monasteries.

In the southern part of the Provençal Baronnies, from Buis-les-Baronnies to Eyguians, the old “Princes of Orange route” allows you to go from the Ouvèze watershed to that of Buëch, by the succession of high valleys, along roads planted with lime trees. At the heart of the route, visitors taking a break at the Col de Perty can discover one of the most beautiful panoramas in the southern Alps, taking in the horizon from Mont Ventoux to Dévoluy and Les Ecrins with a glance.

Gorge landscapes
The natural passageways and historic routes logically constituting privileged places to survey and see the territory, as well as focusing on very small spaces and panoramas capturing a whole panel of wild or historical natural heritage, the Park, even still only in project, gave priority to the knowledge and enhancement of the picturesque landscapes that are the gorges and their roads, bordered by cliffs, notched in the vigorous tithonic limestone shell characteristic of the Baronnies of Provence.

Two of the largest and richest of its gorges were the subject of a first study and action program: the Eygues gorges to the west in the Drôme, between Sahune and Saint May, and the Gorges de la Méouge to the east, in the Hautes Alpes, between Châteauneuf-de-Chabre and Barret-sur-Méouge. The study of the toponymy and the ancient occupation of places by a historian, the study by a landscaper identifying the buildings and viewpoints, as well as the impacts of modern road developments, a seminar for specialists in terraced crops, the first heritage redevelopments in Méouge, an association project for the resumption of olive cultivation in the gorges of the Eygues, have already been carried out.

Remarkable sites and monuments
Rich in everyday heritage, often attached to agricultural activity or to the medieval history of the territory, the Baronnies of Provence also have remarkable sites and monuments recognized as historical monuments (40 buildings are listed or classified) or sites (12 sites are currently registered). Others, while not protected, also deserve attention. Aware of the importance of these remarkable heritage, the Parc des Baronnies Provençales has proposed, in its Charter, a plan for the preservation and enhancement of built heritage, around two major orientations and emblematic sites.

The weight of medieval history and the perching of habitat in this mountain territory has resulted in the recognition of a number of remarkable perched sites, such as the castle of Cornillon-sur-l’Oule (Drôme), the castle and the old village of Arzeliers in Laragne-Montéglin (Hautes-Alpes), the old village of Béconne in La Roche-Saint-Secret-Béconne (Drôme), the church and the old village of St-Cyrice in Etoile- Saint-Cyrice (Hautes-Alpes), the castle of La Roche-sur-le-Buis (Drôme). Other sites, given the density of remarkable heritage found there, have been recognized as “sites with a strong heritage character”. These include in particular old towns and villages, such as the old towns of Serres and Orpierre in the Hautes-Alpes, or Nyons, Buis-les-Baronnies, Taulignan or the village of Saint-Euphémie-sur- Ouvèze in the Drôme. Others have also been recognized for their archaeological interest, such as the Bâtie-Montsaléon site (Hautes-Alpes, remains of Mons Seleucus, a Gallo-Roman agglomeration with a religious vocation) or that of the Clausonne abbey in Saix (High mountains).

Natural heritage
The Mediterranean and Alpine climates Baronnies support an fauna and flora exceptional. The southern slopes (adret) are home to Mediterranean species while species with a mountain, even alpine affinity, prefer to settle on the northern slopes (ubac). The Baronnies are characterized by a mosaic of natural habitats where different plant species and animals reproduce, rest, feed and / or transit… This natural wealth is also revealed by the presence of many zonings such as Natural Areas of Ecological, Faunistic and Floristic Interest (ZNIEFF), Natura 2000, Sensitive Natural Areas… harboring remarkable, rare and / or protected species. These natural areas are nonetheless “nested” in cultivated and inhabited areas and some of them require the presence of human activity to maintain their ecological interest (eg: mowing meadows, grazing on limestone lawns, etc.).

In the Provençal Baronnies, thanks to the Mediterranean and Alpine climates, we can see an exceptional diversity of flora and fauna. The relief also plays a very important role with strong adret-ubac effects. The southern slopes (adret) welcome Mediterranean species while species with a mountain or even alpine affinity prefer to settle on the northern slopes (ubac). The Provençal Baronnies is therefore above all a mosaic of natural habitats where the various remarkable plant and animal species reproduce, rest, feed and / or pass through… This exceptional natural wealth is also revealed by the presence many zonings such as Natural Areas of Ecological, Faunistic and Floristic Interest (ZNIEFF), Natura 2000, Sensitive Natural Areas… These natural areas are nonetheless “nested” in cultivated and inhabited areas. Some of them require the presence of human activity to maintain their ecological value (eg mowing meadows, grazing on limestone lawns, etc.).

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Open and semi-open environments
In this type of environment, a flora can be observed accustomed to dry and sunny soils with species such as Aphyllante de Montpellier, Catananche, Broom scorpion, Iris des garrigues, Chêne kermès. As for the fauna, many species settle there to carry out part or all of their biological cycle, they are also birds (red-backed shrike, passerine warbler, hoopoe, little owl, anteater torch, Soulcie sparrow, etc.), reptiles (Ocellated Lizard, Stepped Snake, etc.), insects (Serrated Magician, Praying Mantis, Empuse…), mammals. Here, biodiversity also rhymes with agriculture, since the Baronnies of Provence are part of one of the most important reservoirs of messicultural plants in France.

Forest environments
Forest areas occupy a large part of the Park. These are alternations of green or white oak groves, beech groves, pine groves that one can contemplate while crossing the Provençal Baronnies. A very varied fauna can be observed with more or less patience or luck in our forests or at their edges, such as certain birds (Great Spotted Woodpecker, Blue Tit, Wood Pigeon, European Sparrowhawk, Monk Vulture, single vulture building its nest at the treetops, etc.), insects (Lucane kite, Rosalie des Alpes, etc.), mammals (Deer, bats such as Barbastelle), amphibians (Salamander, etc.), etc.

Rocky environments
The numerous cliffs, limestone escarpments, scree present within the Baronnies of Provence constitute sites with very harsh living conditions (no or little water, humus, etc.). These areas are home to flora of great interest such as Dauphiné Saxifrage, Mountain Cabbage, Phoenician Juniper, to name but a few. Chamois, griffon vulture, monk vulture and Egyptian vulture rub shoulders there, Tichodrome echelette, Grand duke, Peregrine falcon, Molosser of Cestoni… are just some of the species that find shelters and places suitable for feeding or reproducing.

Wetlands and streams
Water and the management of this resource are major issues in our territory. Many rivers (Eygues, Oule, Ouvèze, Méouge, Buëch, Lez, among others) crisscross our territory, sometimes torrential rivers during high water periods, sometimes trickles of water during low water. These rivers are home to the brown trout, the fluviatile barbel, the white-clawed crayfish in particular, species characteristic of very good quality aquatic environments. On the border, the riparian forests (or riverine forests) are made up of willow, ash and / or alder groves and other plants greening the banks. It is in these environments that you will be able to see many insects such as brightly colored dragonflies (Mercury Agrion, Piedmont Sympetrum, virgin Calopteryx…) and also the very famous Beaver. The Epipactis of the marshes beautiful white orchid, the Azure of the Sanguisorbe small blue butterfly, the Serratula with leaves of water hemp Asteraceae violet are among the species that have established themselves on certain wet meadows in our area.

Different natural environments
Open and semi-open environments:
Flora: Aphyllante de Montpellier, Catananche, Broom scorpion, Iris des garrigues, Chêne kermès
Birds: Red-backed Shrike, Subalpine Warbler, Hoopoe, Little Owl, Wryneck, Rock Sparrow
Reptiles: Ocellated lizard, snake ladder
Insects: Jagged Magician, Praying Mantis, Empuse
Mammals: European rabbit

The Baronnies are part of one of the most important reservoirs of messicole plants in France.

Forest environments:
flora: Oaks, Beeches,
birds: Great Spotted Woodpecker, Blue Tit, Woodpigeon, Sparrowhawk, Black Vulture
insects: Kite stag beetle, Rosalie des Alpes
mammals: Barbastelle
amphibians: Salamander

Rocky environments:
flora: Dauphiné Saxifrage, Mountain Cabbage, Phenician Juniper
Birds: Griffon Vulture, Black Vulture and Egyptian Vulture
mammals: Chamois, Molosse de Cestoni

Wetlands and streams:
aquatic species: brown trout, river barbel, white-footed crayfish
flora: Willows, Ash trees, Alders
insects: Mercury Agrion, Piedmont Sympetrum, Virgin Calopteryx
mammals: Beaver

The Park has wet meadows on which one can find among others the Epipactis of the marshes, the Azure of the Sanguisorbe, the Serratula with leaves of water hemp Asteraceae violet.

Open pit geology
The park of the Provençal Baronnies seems to be only folds and folds, sometimes sinuous, sometimes geometric. The mountains as a whole seem very messy, like an accumulation of large limestone slabs, at first glance devoid of any logic, which makes the orientation sometimes complicated. The change of scenery felt in these landscapes can be intense: on the arid, black, gray or blue slopes of the marls, one would believe to be treading on lunar or Martian soil, another country, another world. Geology marks and fundamentally determines the park of the Baronnies of Provence, explaining its forms of agriculture, culture and history. It constitutes a fundamental aspect of the territory. Certain places are windows on eras, forms, non-existent or invisible elsewhere. The park has two world reference sites for the study of two periods of transition (” stratotypes of limits “) everywhere in the world:
the vertical strata of the Serre de l’Ane (Drôme)
the marls of Mont Risou (Hautes-Alpes)

The geology of the Baronnies also includes fossils, ammonites, septarias, sandstone oolites… But what constitutes heritage, apart from certain types of geological “high places” or certain fossils or point minerals, it is the whole: the general picture of an aquatic world that has become solid, which can still be guessed.

Night in Provence Baronnies
The park of the Baronnies Provençales has one of the skies in France and Europe that are the best protected from light pollution. Preserving and enhancing the quality of the night sky is one of the measures of the Pnr Charter. An Internet site on the Night in the Pnr of the Baronnies Provençales allows Haut-Alpins tourist actors grouped together within the association “Provence des Montagnes”, the Sisteronais Buëch Country, the Hautes-Alpes Departmental Tourism Committee, ‘initiatives to promote agriculture and rural areas’ CIVAM saveurs et sceurs en Drôme Provençale », As well as economic players and associations of the« night »sector to promote their events. The tourist actors and the Tourist Offices of the Baronnies Drômoises are associated with this common approach to promote and enhance the quality of the sky.

The Astronomical Observatory of Baronnies Provençales welcomes the public all year round for scientific missions and education in the preservation of the nocturnal heritage. With around 250 nights of photometric quality, these research activities focus mainly on the monitoring and detection of exoplanets in collaboration with several international scientific groups.

Cultural heritage
Cultural life in the Provencal Baronnies is dynamic, and this despite the difficulties encountered by any cultural actor in rural areas. Theater, music schools, cinema, libraries and events around books, dance practices, visual arts, French song and current music…

Rich in everyday heritage, often attached to agricultural activity or to the medieval history of the territory, the Park has sites and monuments or recognized sites. The weight of medieval history in this mountain territory has resulted in the recognition of a number of remarkable hilltop sites, such as the castle of Cornillon-sur-l’Oule, the castle and the old village of Arzeliers in Laragne-Montéglin, the old village of Béconne in La Roche-Saint-Secret-Béconne, the Saint-Cyrice church in Étoile-Saint-Cyrice, the castle of La Roche-sur-le-Buis.Other sites, given the density of remarkable heritage found there, have been recognized as “sites of strong heritage”.

These include old towns and villages, such as the old towns of Serres and Orpierre in the Hautes-Alpes, or Nyons, Buis-les-Baronnies, Taulignan or the village of Sainte-Euphémie-sur- Ouvèze in the Drôme. Others have also been recognized with regard to their archaeological interest, such as the site of La Bâtie-Montsaléon (Hautes-Alpes, vestiges of Mons Seleucus, Gallo-Roman agglomeration with religious vocation) or that of the abbey of Clausonne in Saix (Hautes-Alpes).The Park is full of built heritage associated with human activities, and in particular agriculture. In this mountainous territory, men have never ceased to develop the slopes to retain the earth or bring water there. Today, these developments are particularly interesting for protecting land from weather-related gullying phenomena.
dry stone walls in Châteauneuf-de-Bordette
Villeperdrix dry stone olive terraces
dry stone mountain sheepfold at Barret-de-Lioure

Economic activities

The decoration of the house or of everyday work, constitutes in the Baronnies of Provence a high quality living environment, omnipresent and fairly well preserved historical character. In the dense fabric of the villages, the urban forms inherited from the past contribute a lot to the character, to the uses, to the enjoyment of life even in the most contemporary practices. The villages are the result of history, far from being located at random, they have often clustered around particular buildings (castles, churches), have evolved as needed but for a long time within the limits of the topography, in those of the gangue built from their ramparts, at the crossroads that structure their ancient land.

The Baronnies of Provence have always been densely occupied since prehistoric times, but it is feudalism in particular that has deeply marked its villages, towns and cities. The families who then dominated the region, the Mévouillon, the Montauban and their allies, organized a coherent network of castles and fortified villages. They unify this territory which still retains the memory of these lords, elevated to the rank of barons. The result of this feudal and military history is a patrimonial heritage which contributes to the identity of the Provençal Baronnies: the smallest village preserves the remains of its castle, of a Romanesque church, of fortifications, but also of heritage which shows the patient work, over the centuries, its inhabitants to enhance, in its entirety, a land of dry medium mountains.

Today, for several decades, with the change see the end of rural society, with the advent of other economic logics, that based on car travel, with the standardization of housing, places of life have, or are beginning for some, to change face. The old structures are dispersing, modern urbanization sometimes comes into being in total contradiction with the logics of implantation inherited from history, at the risk of harming the character of the country, yet so precious in the eyes of the inhabitants and for the activity.

Agriculture in the Parc des Baronnies Provençales is very diversified and nationally recognized (6 Appellations d’Origine Contrôlée and 4 Protected Geographical Indications throughout the territory). Develop new short circuits of exchange and marketing, and “products made in Baronnies”] will make quality accessible. Agriculture enhances 60,000 ha of the territory and occupies up to 20% of the assets in the heart of the Park. The forest, which alone covers 61% of the Baronnies Provençales, is largely neglected, in particular because of the agricultural abandonment. The Park supports projects for the preservation of the forest heritage and the enhancement of certain characteristic elements such as natural truffles.

Today under-valued, forest products constitute an opportunity for the development of local jobs adapted to the sustainable management of forests. The landscape of the Baronnies Provençales is certainly very rich, but it tends to close in part following a decrease in the presence of herds. This leads to a loss of biodiversity, particularly in the intermediate spaces between crops and the forest. Thesylvo-pastoralism is one of the methods of maintaining the wooded areas of the territory. Today the number of sheep in the territory of the Baronnies Provençales is 47,000. In addition, there are also 5,000 goats and 900 cows. In addition to food production, all these animals participate in the maintenance of spaces, prevention against fires and prevent the forest from advancing.The territory of the Park includes a mosaic of agricultural crops corresponding to a massive, diversified agriculture.

Agriculture and landscapes are inseparable in the Baronnies of Provence. Men and women, in their agricultural practices, have shaped over time a range of shapes and colors, witnesses of adaptation to local climatic and geographic constraints. In the Parc des Baronnies Provençales, aromatic and medicinal scent plants (PPAM) coexist with olive groves, orchards (apricot, cherry, apple), small spelled fields and vast pastoral areas…

One of the strong markers of farming systems is the plurality of workshops within the same farm, associating at least two workshops: mixed farming / breeding, breeding / PPAM, breeding / fruit trees, PPAM / fruit trees, fruit trees / vines, vines / PPAM… This production system is possible in the Baronnies of Provence because the farms are of limited size, often a few dozen hectares (apart from routes linked to pastoralism) and they know how to take advantage of the potential that the local climate imposes. on the ground (pedoclimatic conditions) through traditional know-how and the use of natural resources.

These productions, perennial for some, annual for others, are distributed throughout the territory. The associations of crops, varying according to the pedoclimatic conditions, the altitude, or other economic or historical factors, create a set of landscapes of great diversity.

Tourism represents a large majority of the economy of the Baronnies. In accordance with its charter, the park has chosen to rely on its network of regional tourist offices and gateway towns, as a “relay of the regional natural park of the Baronnies Provençales” to ensure promotion. These places are intended to be showcases of the territory where the heritage, landscapes and terroirs are highlighted. The main tourist routes in the park:
Tourism linked to local plants and well-being
Outdoor activities
Historical and cultural tourism based on a rich heritage of hilltop villages
A large network of accommodation (guest rooms, lodges, outdoor accommodation, etc.)
Tourism linked to local agriculture (wine tourism, Provencal markets, etc.)
Astrotourism in relation to the discovery of the nocturnal heritage and scientific and technical installations

Outdoor sports
The park, with its varied mid-mountain topography, its Mediterranean climate, the richness of its natural and cultural heritage, is an ideal terrain for the practice of sporting activities in connection with nature.

climbing: 1,500 equipped routes and two internationally renowned sites (Orpierre and Buis-les-Baronnies)
hiking (hiking, equestrian, mountain biking and cyclo)
free flight: numerous take-off areas for paragliders (the Laragne-Chabre site is known worldwide for its exceptional thermal currents)

New energies
With the electrification of Dieulefit and Valreas at the end of the 1880s, new energies are old in the region.

For several years, many renewable energy development projects have been set up in the park. Thanks to certain programs, particularly regional ones, and in partnership with various structures working on these themes (Energy and Electricity Syndicates, CEDER, Forest Municipalities, etc.) the park supports municipalities in the energy transition. In 2015, the park was recognized by the Ministry of Sustainable Development and Energy as one of the 212 positive energy territories (TEPOS). The Ministry has proposed a targeted project to the park: a local inter-regional energy transition contract.

The goal is to install photovoltaic panels on different roofs of the same village (Rosans), taking into account the evolution of heritage and overall landscape. The major interest of the project lies in the mobilization of the population which makes it possible to bring together in the same management company, citizens who produce and consume energy, associations, local communities., companies, etc. These people thus participate in the production of local renewable energy even though they may not be able to do it on their own roof (because they are renting their homes, roofing poorly oriented, lack of financial means, etc.). With a view to carrying out an exemplary project that can be generalized to other rural communes, several studies have been carried out which can serve as a basis for other projects.

Studies of energy production and consumption of the territory and greenhouse gas emissions
Carried out as a prerequisite for any reflection on an energy policy for the Baronnies Provençales, in 2011 the Park carried out an assessment of energy consumption and production and of greenhouse gas emissions at the of its territory. The results of the study confirm a strong dependence of the territory on petroleum products while the production of renewable energies is limited (16.5% of consumption). The share of residential and transport are the most energy intensive sectors. They are also the areas where there is the greatest room for improvement: travel by private car is the most used means of travel (57%) and the share of homes built before 1974 and heating with fuel oil is predominant.

The wood of the Provencal Baronnies
Several municipalities have benefited from the support of park technicians in the definition and calibration of heating networks running on chipped wood. Through grouped calls for projects and with the support of forestry municipalities, the municipalities of Barret-sur -Méouge and Rosans were able to carry out a feasibility study on the creation of these heating infrastructures. Since then, other municipalities have requested the help of the future park in defining their projects, such as Buis-les-Baronnies and Eourres.

In the Provençal Baronnies, there are around forty primary and nursery schools. There are also three colleges and two high schools. Each year, many projects are developed with them: discovery of local heritage (natural environment, history, landscapes, trades, agriculture, etc.), awareness of natural risks or issues related to sustainable development, etc. The collective reception centers for minors in the area (leisure activities without accommodation, holiday centers) are also important places for learning, perfectly complementary to the school environment. Organizers of leisure centers, holiday centers, discovery classes or even managers of Extracurricular Reception Times, all play a decisive role in learning about citizenship as well as in the (re) discovery of wealth of the territory. Various partnerships (technical and financial) have made it possible to develop interesting projects: around food (with the production of the board game “The explorers of taste”), around local landscapes (training of animators around a kit educational program to be reused in leisure centers, etc.), natural hazards, etc.

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