Roumengoux. Les Mérens, to end the mountain festival in style

Roumengoux.  Les Mérens, to end the mountain festival in style

the essential
The 2nd edition of the Mérens transhumance was part of the discovery of the future great site of France.

“Authentic and unifying moments”

After several months in the mountain pasture of Luzenac, the breeders of Mérens horses have brought the herds down for their winter quarters. The cold season will make it possible to provide the necessary care for the equines, to wean the foals and to prepare the next spring births. The breeders gathered all the mares at the Boutas hut, at altitude, before descending on foot to the Luzenac campsite where a great party awaited them, organized by the festival committee.

While some animals have been loaded onto trucks to reach their respective farms, for the second consecutive year, four breeders have organized a transport on horseback through the Cathar Pyrenees, with a “tourism” of this adventure, in order to accompany herds to Roumengoux. Sylvain Salaméro coordinated this operation, which brought together breeders from four farms: Gaec du Center du Soularac, Gaec de Fantilhou, Gaec des Pitchous and Mérens du Labail. The breeder from the center of Soularac is triply satisfied. “Riders all over the world are very fond of our spaces of freedom and our techniques of mountain breeding. Hence the success of the tourist offer that we have proposed. We were able to dialogue this year with hikers on foot during the two days, explain to them our profession, the meaning of our agropastoral practice. Finally, it was a moment of pure pleasure and conviviality between breeders.”

Two days for hikers

The crossing of the Cathar Pyrenees by the Mérens from the heights of the Gorges-de-la Frau to Lake Montbel, was accompanied this year by several groups of hikers, at the call of the project center of the community of communes of the country of Olmes.

This last transhumance, after that of sheep and cattle, was an opportunity to organize outings to discover the landscape assets of the future great site of France. The mountain guides, Loïc Wieczorek and Xavier Phan, had designed their different itineraries to allow contemplation of the dizzying stone walls of the gorges, the banks of the Hers and the Montbel lake, which offered a special spectacle, after a long dry season.

And of course, on several occasions, the participants crossed paths with equines and accompanied them on certain sections.

After a long journey of 65 kilometers from the mountain pastures, for the arrival of the Mérens in the meadows and on the shores of Lake Montbel, there were people there last Tuesday. Christine Téqui, president of the departmental council, did not fail to capture beautiful images on her smartphone. “A superb show which honored one of the specificities of our territory and the beautiful traditions of Ariège”, she exclaimed. At his side, Alain Toméo, president of the Tourism Development Agency, and Alain Servat, president of the Pastoral Federation, also appreciated the moment as connoisseurs.

The projects center of the community of communes of the country of Olmes (CCPO), had wished that this beautiful transhumance ends in conviviality. At aperitif time, served at the Maison du Lac, discussions revolved around the virtues of transhumance and pastoralism.

Sylvain Salaméro, breeder of Mérens in the center of Soularac and head of the equestrian tourism division at the Occitanie regional riding committee, was alongside David Eychenne, breeder of Gascon cows in Montbel, and Trifine Cuvillier, linchpin of the organization of activities for the mountain festival around transhumance. Everyone agreed on the importance of perpetuating these initiatives which bring together horse, sheep and cattle breeders, mountain guides, and which allow the public to access the keys to understanding the farming professions. “A relationship of trust has been created in two years with farmers to promote the rise of cows, sheep and horses in the summer pastures as part of the large site operation. Two years ago, this did not exist! supervision of the outings by our mountain guides has proven its worth. Their professionalism reassures the farmers”, confided Benoît Combes, head of the CCPO’s project division.

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