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LEADER I and tourism: some examples

The Gallo-Roman site of Malagne (Wallonia)
document type: case study
keywords: tourism, heritage
source: LEADER technical dossier
last update:3/95

Rochefort is a small town in the LEADER area Wallonie with a reputation for producing quality traditional beer. Every year, 1.5 million people visit its grottos, among the most spectacular in the Belgian Ardennes.

Archaeological excavations in the 19th century revealed that the locality was on the site of a massive Gallo-Roman "villa". The excavations were broken off after a short time and it was only in 1992, under the impetus of a local association and with the help of the Walloon region, that they re-started. The Walloon Office for Rural Development (OWDR) jumped upon the opportunity offered by the LEADER programme to plan to use the site for tourism and scientific and educational purposes.

The project "Malagne, la Gallo-romaine" seeks to develop the 3 ha site by reconstituting the environment, flora, fauna, agriculture, crafts, housing and cooking traditions of Belgian Gaul from the 1st to the 4th centuries.

There are three phases to the project:

1) archaeological excavation work and the introduction of livestock (horses, cattle, pigs, sheep, poultry) and crops (cereals, medicinal plants and herbs) similar to those existing in the Gallo-Roman age; this first phase is nearing completion.

2) introduction of visitor reception facilities; in addition to tourists, visitors will include school groups, students, teachers, researchers.

3) reconstitution of the buildings of the Gallo-Roman villa and creation of a hotel complex.

LEADER is instrumental in implementing the second phase, which began in 1993. LEADER I funding have been used to transform the buildings of the existing farm into workshops, exhibition and conference rooms and a sales and tasting point for local products.

The Malagne project is aiming to offer a range of activities. From Spring 1996, visitors will discover the farming practices used at the beginning of our era; foodstuffs will be transformed into local quality products, sold on the site or used as ingredients for "Gallo-Roman" dishes served on the site. The craft industry has not been neglected: local craftsmen are already giving classes in Gallo-Roman sculpture and mosaic techniques.

In the long term, the Malagne site should help diversify tourism in the region: the project leaders estimate that when the site is operating at full capacity, 300,000 visitors a year would not be an unrealistic figure. Eight permanent jobs have been created so far.

The development of the "villa" has been inspired by similar experiences in Great Britain and Germany. Animals descended from ancient breeds have been imported from Poland and Poitou (France). Since the Roman civilisation covered a large part of the current EU territory, the project leaders are counting on the LEADER network to find specimens of breeds of animals, plant varieties and recipes which Malagne does not yet have.

Group name: Wallonie (BE01)

Project type: development of a historical site

Total cost: 650 000 ECU

French-Speaking Community and Walloon Region: 325,000 ECU

Municipality of Rochefort: 125,000 ECU

Private: 25,000 ECU

LEADER I: 175,000 ECU

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