French ecomuseums to visit before you die

photo by Guillaume Baviere on Flickr

Ecomuseums are a curious thing that people wouldn’t have even thought about a century ago. But as times change, our awareness of our environment and our need to save it and keep it healthy are becoming more and more urgent. This is how ecomuseums have come to be – places that focus on the identity and heritage of a particular place instead of specific exhibits, and whose purpose is the sustainable development of local communities. France was the first country in the world to open ecomuseums, and it is still the  world leader when it comes to them. Here are French ecomuseums to visit before you die – you definitely won’t regret it!

Maison des Alpages,  Besse-en-Oisans, Isère

Pastoral farming in the lovely mountain pastures surrounding the picturesque village of Besse-en-Oisans is what has kept the community alive for centuries, and the Maison des Alpages (the House of Pastures) presents the condensed knowledge of this ancient art of farming. The museum drew the interest not only of traditional farmers, but also young graduates who knew that this type of farming in far more complex than it seems.

Cloches et Sonnettes Devouassoud, Chamonix

If you have a working knowledge of French, then don’t miss this one of a kind museum in Chamonix. The Devouassoud family has been church bells and cowbells for generations, and they are the only blacksmith shop around who still specializes in custom made bells, transforming these simple things into true musical instruments.

Roudoule Ecomuseum, Alpes Maritimes

The Roudoule Ecomuseum, surrounded by the magnificent Gorges du Cians and Gorges de Dalouis is actually a collection of ecomuseums that tell the story of the Roudoule Valley. In Puget-Rostang you can learn about the cité of Entrevaux, the picturesque village of Auvare, the Honey Museum, the Path of Perfumes and Senses (Sentier des Senteurs) and a discovery center in Puget-Théniers.

Walnut Ecomuseum, Castelnaud-la-Chapelle, Dordogne

The scenic village of Castelnaud-la-Chapelle is known for more than its impressive castle perching over the houses. This very interesting ecomuseum will take you to the world of organic walnut oil production. The beautiful restored 18th century farmhouse displays the tools of the trade, some of which are centuries old. Free samples included!

Saint Nazaire Ecomuseum, Saint Nazaire, Loire-Atlantique

The tale of the seaside Saint Nazaire commune is told though the displays of this fascinating museum that also takes on the more general issue of how the world is changing over the years, and the role that ecology plays in the lives of French people. For anyone who likes ecology, this is definitely one French ecomuseum to visit before you die.

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