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Grand Site de France Puy Mary – Volcan du Cantal

  /  Grand Site de France Puy Mary – Volcan du Cantal
Grand Site de France Puy Mary – Volcan du Cantal

To be Grand Site de France implies the sustainable preservation of a site for its manager; this does not mean in any way putting the territory under the bell. On the contrary, beyond the preservation and restoration of fragile but attractive emblematic landscapes, the manager must implement actions for the sustainable development of this territory in fields as varied as tourism, agriculture, outdoor activities… This is what the Grand Site de France Puy Mary – Volcan du Cantal is working on every day.

Opération Grand Site

In 1999, Operation Grand Site (OGS) was launched for Puy Mary. At the same time, the Syndicat Mixte du Puy Mary was created, its mission will be to manage the site and obtain the label by 2010. The Opération Grand Site is an initiative proposed by the State to help local authorities with a, particularly remarkable site on their territory to restore and manage it. It is launched at the request of the local authorities concerned, who must organize themselves to take the approach forward.
Studies are carried out to assess the impact on the landscape, visitor numbers, the functioning of the area, etc. A concerted project is then drawn up and officially approved by the ministry de l’Écologie, du Développement durable et de l’Énergie in charge of the sites to enable its implementation.
Funding is generally granted by the general and regional councils associated with the project as well as by the State and Europe. The Grand Site is managed by the structure best able to represent it; if a new structure is created, operating resources are made available and staff is recruited to implement the approach.

The 4 prerequisites for initiating an Opération Grand Site approach:
  • be a classified site (protected by the law of 1930) ;
  • be an area of national interest: a remarkable landscape, symbolic or of widely recognized cultural significance;
  • be subject to periods of excessive use that could lead to the loss of the aesthetic, natural or cultural qualities that are at the origin of its reputation and classification;
  • be the subject of a desire for rehabilitation supported by a broad local consensus.
Goals of OGS are :
  • restore the site on the landscape plan ;
  • determine a sustainable and autonomous management policy;
  • allow the measures adopted to benefit local economic development.

On 12 December 2012, Puy Mary was awarded the “Grand Site de France” label by decree of the Minister of Ecology, Mrs. Delphine Batho. A Grand Site is an exceptional natural site, recognized at the national level and benefiting from a protection measure. It is recognized as a “classified site” under the law of 2 May 1930 on the protection of natural monuments and sites of an artistic, historical, scientific, legendary, or picturesque nature. Sublime or atypical, grandiose or intimate, subjugating or soothing, each Grand Site has its own “spirit”. The implementation of this legislation is the responsibility of the State and is part of the missions of the Ministry of Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy.

Grand Site de France Label
Grands Sites are united around common challenges:
  • The preservation and restoration of fragile and attractive landscapes ;
  • The intelligent organization of intense traffic that needs to be managed and controlled;
  • The promotion of sustainable development values.

The Grand Site de France Puy Mary – Volcan du Cantal thus becomes the 12ᵉ Grand Site to obtain the label. In 2020, the Grand Site de France network, created in 2000, is now made up of 47 member Grand Sites: 21 labeled Grand Sites and 26 in the pipeline.

Carte du Réseau des Grands Sites de France

The label awarded for a period of 6 years to the managing body of the site (the Syndicat Mixte du Puy Mary for the Grand Site de France Puy Mary – Volcan du Cantal) is renewable. Since 2018, the Syndicat Mixte du Puy Mary has worked to renew the label. It was renewed on 8 April 2019 with the signing of the decree by François de Rugy, Minister for Ecological and Solidarity Transition. This renewal rewards the good management of the site by the Syndicat Mixte du Puy Mary, the respect of the actions undertaken during the first labeling process have been carried out and the implementation of an action plan for the next 6 years in conjunction with all the partners of the approach.

Since the beginning of 2021, the Grand Site de France Puy Mary – Volcan du Cantal covers 40,000 hectares, 17 members communes (spread over 5 EPCI and 5 cantons) and 4 associates (Laveissière, Lavigerie, Saint-Jacques-des-Blats, Thièzac). The Syndicat Mixte du Puy Mary manages 5 Site Houses (Dienne, Le Claux, Le Falgoux, Mandailles-Saint-Julien, Pas de Peyrol) and two Pleine Nature resorts (Col de Serre & Mandailles-Saint-Julien).

During the first labeling period (2012-2018), the following actions were carried out:
  • Landscape enhancement: landscape and architectural requalification of the Massif passes, enhancement of geological sites, continued development of roads and their surroundings, and development of landscape discovery.
  • Development of the discovery of the volcano with the completion of the network of Site Houses and their associated museographies. The setting up of a European Charter for Sustainable Tourism dedicated to local tourism stakeholders, the development of reception and tourist offers, and reception areas for camper vans.
  • The improvement of the discovery of the Cantalien Massif, participation in the development of its reputation. With the experimentation of the Discovery Transport project, a public transport system supported and encouraged by the Ministry of Ecology and the Réseau des Grands Sites de France. It allows visitors and locals interested in this concept of soft mobility to free themselves from any traffic constraints and to fully enjoy the exceptional surrounding landscapes in complete serenity.
  • As the Grand Site de France Puy Mary – Volcan du Cantal is part of the perimeter of the “Coeur de Massif Cantalien” Outdoor Nature Resort, a whole range of summer/winter outdoor activities has been developed and enhanced on the Grand Site with the creation of the Maison des Activités de Pleine Nature at the Col de Serre, as well as that of Mandailles-Saint-Julien (managed by the CABA).
  • Economic development through the establishment of new tourism players in the Massif remains a priority for the Grand Site as it is a guarantee of job creation and sustainability for local services and for the revitalization of the villages.
For its renewal, the Syndicat Mixte du Puy Mary has committed itself to a certain number of actions for the next 6 years.
  • Preserve the unique landscape and heritage of the Grand Site de France ;
  • Work to maintain a strong agricultural identity;
  • Maintaining a landscape and heritage unity ;
  • The exploitation and enhancement of the forest;
  • Control and management of flows, continue the action to reduce the impact of traffic and road infrastructures on the discovery of the landscape;
  • To take care of the elements that make up quality landscape roaming;
  • Reinforce alternative modes of access to the site, towards a mobility plan on the scale of the Cantalien Massif…;
  • Organize the transmission of knowledge, values, and wealth of the Grand Site de France;
  • From a volcanic landscape to the discovery of exceptional natural environments;
  • To bring the Grand Site de France to life, to organize its discovery through a network of Site Houses in evolution and a reinforced offer of interpretation;
  • A culture of identity that bears witness to the evolution of the landscape.
  • To support local activity in the communes of the Grand Site de France and to promote the Spirit of the Places;
  • The economic development of the valleys;
  • Tourism in keeping with the spirit of the place: giving priority to quality over quantity;
  • A landscape in practice: nature as a lever for economic and tourist development;
This action plan is broken down into a number of projects including :

Landscape requalification of the Pertus and Légal road passes; the setting up of a collective sheep pasture as well as the requalification of watering points; the labeling of the Impradine, Jordanne, Mars and Santoire rivers as “wild rivers”; the restoration of the Bédélat du Cassaïre, the development of mobility, the integration of new municipalities within the perimeter of the Grand Site and the structuring of the Pleine Nature offer…

A project tracking page, allows you to find out about projects already completed, those in progress, and future projects.

Syndicat Mixte du Puy Mary

The Syndicat Mixte du Puy Mary is the manager of the Grand Site de France Puy Mary – Volcan du Cantal. It was created in 1999 and has a Trade Union Committee made up of one representative from each commune of the Grand Site de France (13 in total), four representatives of the Cantal Departmental Council, and two representatives of the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes Regional Council.
A team of permanent technicians implements the action plan defined during the labeling process. It is made up of four permanent employees and about fifteen seasonal workers present from April to October.

Les élus
Philippe Fabre

Philippe Fabre

President of the Syndicat Mixte du Puy Mary

Mayor of Mandailles-Saint-Julien

Philippe Maurs

Philippe Maurs

1ˢᵗ Vice-President of the Syndicat Mixte du Puy Mary

Mayor of Saint-Cirgues-de-Jordanne

Christophe Raynal

Christophe Raynal

2ᵈ Vice-President of the Syndicat Mixte du Puy Mary

Mayor of Cheylade

Louis Chambon

Louis Chambon

3ʳᵈ Vice-President of the Syndicat Mixte du Puy Mary

Mayor of Falgoux

Team of Syndicat Mixte du Puy Mary
Jean Privat

Jean Privat

Director Syndicat Mixte du Puy Mary

Julien Couty

Julien Couty

Communication Officer

Thomas Pissavy

Thomas Pissavy

Technical agent

Manon Salarnier

Manon Salarnier

In charge of secretariat and accounting


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