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In the Heart of France
The Preservation Fair

By André Gayot

For centuries, the mountains of the Central part of France stood like the ramparts of a remote fortress blocking invasions and intruders. This is where the Gauls fought the Roman invaders every inch of the way, this is where life under the sterile cones of the volcanoes is harsh, this is where the deep mountain lakes fill the water tower of France, this is where at the end of the freezing winters the broom bushes repaint in yellow the slopes of the eroded basaltic summits, this is Auvergne. A land of fierce warriors, hard working farmers and workers, the very and somewhat concealed heart of France.

Freeways, fast trains, airports pierce the relief but nature is still mostly pristine. The "Auvergnats" strive to retain some of their past. They are proud of their products, of their production and of their culture. Some of the best cheeses such as Saint Nectaire, Bleu d'Auvergne, Murol, Fourme d'Ambert are raised here.

Many animal and vegetal species disappear every day, are we often reminded by the good spirits. That's another reason to express our gratitude to these stubborn peasants struggling to keep alive plants and animals such as these beautiful breed of oxen, called Aubrac, a vanishing stock surviving only in the hills of Aubrac.


Along with ancestral plants and fruits of an unspoiled earth this pair of Aubrac oxen are displayed in a fair held annually in the regional capital Clermont-Ferrand. This old city built with black lava stone is home to heroes of the like of Vercingetorix who battled furiously Jules Cesar or Blaise Pascal a great catholic thinker and a scientific genius, credited for inventing in the seventeen century the first computing machine. In modern days the Michelin family who started to conceive of their first bicycle tire in a stable have conquered the world of the wheels with their famous pneumatic invention.

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(Updated: 07/02/08 HC)

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