French volcanic wine region gains UNESCO listing

A mountain range of 80 dormant volcanoes on the doorstep of one of France’s central winemaking regions has been granted a place on the UNESCO World Heritage list, an accreditation which will drive footfall and tourism in the area.

The dormant volcanoes, known as the Chaîne des Puys, are home to a number of appellations including the little-known Cotes d’Auvergne — a sub-region of Loire — and stretch over an area of 45 km in the northern Massif Central to the west of the central French city of Clermont-Ferrand.

They form part of the Puy de Dôme, a region and IGP area which takes its name from one of the youngest and largest volcanoes in the mountain range.

The combination of granitic soils, as well as a vineyard elevation of around 350-550m, make the region well suited to producing cool-climate-style Pinot Noir.

The site demonstrates how the Earth’s crust was faulted and underwent collapse, allowing magma to rise up and the surface to be significantly uplifted.

The volcano Puy de Dôme — one of the youngest within the Chaîne des Puys, is also one of the most visited sites in the Auvergne region, attracting nearly 500,000 tourists per year.

The Chaîne des Puys is the first natural World Heritage site in mainland France.

“It is our duty now to preserve, promote and keep alive this universal heritage,” said a statement.

“It must be used as a basis for sustainable development, able to blend protection of the geological and landscape features with support for traditional activities and responsible tourism.”

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