Witness the rare practice of transhumance in the Dordogne

28th July, 2016
Due to technology and science becoming more prevalent in farming, the practice of transhumance has largely died out, however, one place where you can still see this taking place is in the south-western region of the Dordogne.

Transhumance is when not only the livestock move from summer to winter pastures, but so do the farmers too. Typically, this involves travelling to the lowlands for the winter and to the highlands for the summer.

In many European countries, transhumance has not been practised for more than a century, however, the Pyrenees mountains in France are an exception. The farms in the lowlands are generally too small to support larger herds all year round, and so much of the livestock is relocated to high mountains for the summer months. Though it was historically mainly dairy cows who were transferred during transhumance, sheep and horses can also be relocated.

On Sunday July 31, there will be a rare opportunity to see transhumance in action, setting off from the Dordgone village of Campagnac-les-Quercy. The festivities begin at 8am, with the ‘leaving of the flock’ getting underway from 8.30am. Once the flock and the farmers set off, visitors are welcome to accompany the livestock on a four-hour trek to the new pastures. Along the way, you’ll walk along several kilometres of wonderful country trails.

Once everyone has arrived in the afternoon, more festivities are set to get underway, including shepherding and shearing demonstrations. Visitors will also be able to pick up a number of artisan goods and local produce at a special market.

If you’re staying at one of our luxury villas in France nearby, this is a fantastic chance to see what is now very much a rarity in agriculture and get a better glimpse of life in rural France.

Image: Ostinexena, available under Creative Commons