The Hautes-Chaumes du Forez: “it looks like the steppes of Mongolia”!

Landscape Hautes-Chaumes of Forez
©JC MAVEL, Livradois-Forez Regional Natural Park photo library

Woods on the Hautes-Chaumes du Forez?

Scientists and botanists explain that Hautes-Chaumes of the Forez mountains were originally wooded. They were first shaped by pastoral traditions, dating back to Roman times. A few centuries later, in the Middle Ages, the summer pasture was organized around the jasseries. These high-altitude farms provide accommodation for families and animals during the summer. More precisely: from May until the first snowfalls. Daily life was then punctuated by this transhumance. While the men took care of the hay and the harvest in the valley, the supervision, the milking of the cows (mainly of the local Ferrandaise breed) and the production of the fourmes were, for their part, the responsibility of the women and the children, temporarily settled on the mountain.

Landscape Hautes-Chaumes Livradois-Forez
©JC MAVEL, Livradois-Forez Regional Natural Park photo library

Jasseries: these "farms from above"

Jasseries are stone dwellings, either with thatched roofs or covered with tiles. On the ground floor were the stable, the only living room and the cellar where the fourmes were matured. Then, above was stored the fodder. Very often the construction was done downstream of a channeled source and divided into two. Part of the water crossed the barn in order to wash the floor and evacuate the manure of the animals, the other part flowed into the cellar, in order to create sufficient hygrometry for the refining of the cheeses.

Sheep on the Hautes-Chaumes du Forez
©JC MAVEL, Livradois-Forez Regional Natural Park photo library

From the 1960s, transhumance lost its appeal. The "farms from above" were gradually abandoned and the lawns threatened by the fallowing. From this pastoral heritage, there remains an extraordinary built heritage and a few tens of thousands of hectares of moors still traversed by herds which benefit from the grass of the mountain pastures. No more family transhumes in the jasseries. But visitors can rediscover the history and the spirit of this bygone past by surveying the infinite spaces and by going, for example, to the Jasserie du Coq noir, in Saint Anthème. In addition, a cultural and gastronomic place, it serves daily the traditional patios of potatoes confit in cream… You must not leave Livradois-Forez without having visited the Hautes-Chaumes.