The « Grand Site de France » Label – Top Ten Sites in France

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7. Marais poitevin (Charente-Maritime, Deux-Sèvres et Vendée) – 2010

According to the French authorities, there are ten outstanding places that are of such cultural/aesthetic value to the nation that they are afforded the label Grand Site de France

Below, the official Top Ten are listed, but here’s a little about the background of this initiative:

The Grands Sites are the privileged few that are honoured by the Ministry of Ecology. In this listing of sites very much spread out around the country, we can look a bit more closely at them to try and ascertain what sets one of these sites apart from the others.

The Grand Site de France label was officially created in 2003. It is discerned by the Ministry of Ecologie, Sustainable Development and Energy. Only a rare handful of sites received the coveted label, while many more sites form part of the Network of Grands Sites (le Réseau des Grand Sites). The members of the Network are those who work towards hopefully attaining the status of a Grand Site de France.

The label belongs to the French state, who registered it with the National Institute of Industrial Propriety in 2003. It is inscribed in the Environmental Code in accordance with previous acts relating to state responsibility for the environment.

In order to obtain the Grand Site de France label, one has to respect the Environmental Code and be a site already classified as belonging to the Grand Site Network to be able to submit a claim with the Commission Supérieure des Sites et Paysages (High Commission for Sites and Country Landscapes) and then obtain a favourable decision from them. The Commission bases its decision on very specific criteria in order to be able to give a favourable opinion.

It has to be able to recognise in the candidate site a management system that conforms with the principles of sustainable development and the promotion of its values, reconciling the preservation of landscape and the “spirit of the area”. A certain element of welcoming the public as well as a participation of the local inhabitants and stakeholders in the life of the Grand Site is also desirable. Earning the title of Grand Site de France involves engaging everyone. Attributed for 6 years, the label can be withdrawn in case of negligence of duty of the caretaker/manager.

There are 37 sites in all who form part of the Grand Site Network and each of whom are striving to be amongst the Top Ten with the Label Grand Site de France. In each of these 37 sites, they must display the glass sculpture piece “Écouter le monde” in a prominent place for visitors to see.

The Ten Sites in France with the Grand Site de France label:

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