Pastoralist Knowledge Hub

Transhumance along the Champs Elysées in Paris

11/03/2022 -

On 6th March 2022, over 2000 sheep, cattle and horses crossed the Champs Elysée in Paris. This event, organised by local authorities and herders from the Pyrénées mountains and accompanied by Spanish herders and transhumant shepherds from Cantabrie and representatives of the Application of Transhumance as Heritage of Humanity, was meant to celebrate transhumance as a symbol of working with nature. For the first time in history, a herd went down from the Arc of Triumph accompanied by flutes, polyphonic songs and traditional carts in front of the eyes of a delighted crowd. As explained by the organisers, this event was meant to bring visibility to this traditional yet modern practice to the urban space, promote agropastoral products and craftsmanship, and celebrate progress towards recognising transhumance as an Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) by UNESCO in Europe.

© Francesca Pasetti. Sheep from the Pyrénées mountains along the Champs Elysées.

Indeed, seven countries, Albania, Andorra, Croatia, France, Luxemburg, Romania and Spain, are working together to evolve a process initiated by Italy, Greece and Austria when transhumance was recognised as an ICH by UNESCO in 2019.

A unique application form is now ready after two years of collaborative hard work, virtual and in-person meetings (in Colmar, France and Madrid, Spain) between the different European partners, which Spain is leading and France co-leading. It will be submitted at the end of the month at the UNESCO office in Paris. The assessment of the form is expected to last some months, and a final proclamation could presumably happen on December 2023.