Location of the initiative:
Relation to Strategy 21 Recommendations:
Time span of the initiative:
Start date: 2020 / End date: 2026
Motivation / Methodology
The aim of the Petites Cités de Caractère (Small Towns Full of Character) project is to support small urban communities in France wishing to use their cultural heritage to promote local development.
With this in mind, our work is geared to fostering partnerships and providing support to local councils. It encompasses several aspects: focusing on heritage of all kinds (built heritage, intangible heritage, natural heritage, etc.) and ensuring due consideration is given to the principles of cultural rights, sustainable development and lasting and sustainable tourism.
The Guide for Councillors is designed to provide support to newly elected councillors of small towns and to help them achieve these aims. It is available in two formats: as factsheets and as a series of MOOC-style videos.
Obstacles / Barriers
There are still several historical and cultural obstacles to overcome in France:
The idea that heritage = built heritage is hard to shift; a holistic approach to heritage (tangible, intangible, natural, people) is still considered innovative;
The notion that heritage = a cultural object must also be fought, as this leads in practice to some people feeling that it is not their concern. We want to promote heritage as a common living environment, as the basis for "living together" (=> cultural rights);
Tensions between heritage and development, between the historic town and its sustainable future. The goal of our association is to ensure that these can co-exist.
Change / Impact
We are helping towns to move away from the perception of heritage as a cultural object to be used to develop tourism and towards the idea of a shared heritage around which towns can build a joint project and enabling small urban communities wishing to maintain a central role to be attractive by affirming and promoting their culture and identity.
Before drawing up the guide, we surveyed a number of councillors to get a better of idea of what help they would like to see. They expressed a strong desire for:
Methodogical support and guidance on how to make heritage the core part of the local development project;
Information on the connection between economic regeneration and heritage management.
- YouTube: petitescitesdecaractere
Source of financing