A landscape made famous by former President François Mitterrand has been listed for protection by the Environment Minister Nicolas Hulot.
The whole area around the Roche de Solutré in Burgundy – which Mr Mitterrand would climb each year – is now a site classé, including the rock itself and the nearby Mont de Pouilly and Roche de Vergisson.
Mr Mitterrand would ascend the spectacular rock overlooking the Pouilly-Fuissé and Saint Véran vineyards in the Saône-et-Loire, every Pentecost, in fulfilment of a vow made during the Second World War. He was often accompanied by such well-known figures as Jack Lang, Pierre Bergé or Jacques Attali – as well as journalists.
A Resistance member during the Second World War, the former president met his wife Danielle (née Gouze) in Burgundy while organising Resistance activities there – and his brother-in-law Roger Gouze took him climbing on the rock for the first time in 1946 along with other résistants, who had sworn during the war to do it each year once peace returned.
The Ecology Ministry says the listing will “guarantee the quality of this site with its unusual and picturesque scenery” as it means that any new development changing its appearance would need special permission.
However the reason Mr Hulot declared it a “remarkable site that merits national recognition” is that it is home to a wide range of rare plants and animals and is also one of Europe’s most important prehistoric sites. Findings such as traces of huts and fires, flint tools, reindeer, horse and mammoth bones show humans have lived in the area for some 57,000 years.