From Provence to Piedmont

The cycle of grass growth and flocks

Our region’s pastoralism is a centuries-old extensive farming system based on grazing on complementary surface areas and using natural resources where we find them.

In summer, the Crau Plain is too dry and there is not enough grass to feed the flocks. So the shepherds go looking for new grass in the Alps: that’s what transhumance is.


The shepherds move their flocks in line with the grass growth cycle, shaping the countryside as they do so:

  • Crau’s grasslands or “wet Crau” from October to February;
  • Coussouls or “dry Crau” from March to June;
  • Alpine pastures from July to September.



Transhumance and pastoral ecosystems

Transhumance is an age-old practice linking mountain and coast as well as maintaining sylvopastoral balances of extraordinarily rich biodiversity.

A good many remarkable ecosystems are the result of interactions between flocks, flora and fauna, from the coastal hills and plains to the high mountain grasslands by way of the moorland, scrub and forest massifs of the countryside in between.

The role played by traditional local farming practices and the heritage value of semi-natural ecosystems are now recognised as being of ecological and societal interest (combating soil erosion and fires). So much so, in fact, that safeguarding such areas requires maintenance of sheep farming and its pastoral systems, which are the only known guarantees of preserving the ecological balance.

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