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Leader seminar "Challenges and methodology of transnational Cooperation"

2-6 April 1997, Dieulefit (Drôme), France


Case study

Randonnées Pyrénéennes

The action

The project to make maps of the French and Spanish Pyrenees was begun in the framework of the Communauté de Travail des Pyrénées (Working Community of the Pyrenees) by the Randonnées Pyrénéennes association in the early 1990s. It is an innovative action, because the two sides of this massif had never worked together in this field. Considerable effort therefore had to be made by the two partners to adapt to very different realities: very different working methods and technologies; economic and commercial stakes particularly difficult to evaluate and quantify. Financed mostly through Interreg, the action was divided into two periods:


  • in 1992-1993, the first project was born between Randonnées Pyrénéennes and Catalonia,
  • resulting in the publication the following year of a bilingual map (French-Catalan);
  • starting in 1995, the two partners began discussing plans to make five new maps, of which
  • 2 would be located in Aragon, 1 in Navarre and 2 in Catalonia.

Key elements

  • It is a project with clearly identifiable economic consequences. It brings companies and institutions from both sides of the Pyrenees into contact with one another to produce cross-border maps that otherwise would not have existed.
  • This direct economic impact is one of the results of 15 years of cross-border work.
  • The expertise and skills of the partners are complementary: the know-how of Randonnées Pyrénéennes and the technical knowledge of the Catalan Institute of Cartography (ICC) were two elements necessary for the operation's success. Neither of the two partners would have been able to do it alone.
  • The ICC uses the partnership with Randonnées Pyrénéennes to position itself on the market at the European level.



Stemming from a political will between France and Spain to develop the Pyrenees, this cooperation project is that of a company and an institution.

Randonnées Pyrénéennes is a dual structure:

  • A non-profit making association set up 20 years ago by French institutions to develop hiking tourism in the Pyrenees. The association has created numerous walking trails: creation of mountain huts, marking of roads and paths, publication of walking guides.
  • A company that markets some of the association's products (topography guides, maps) to ensure its continuation. It is rapidly growing, as the niche of walking in the Pyrenee mountains is a buoyant market.


The Catalan Institute of Cartography (ICC) is a technical institute that depends on the Autonomous Region of Catalonia. It makes various kinds of maps using very advanced technology (digitalised maps based on aerial photographs, use of map-making software such as ArcInfo, etc.).


Point of departure

Randonnées Pyrénéennes approached the ICC in the framework of the work of the Communauté de Travail des Pyrénées (COTRAP). This is a political body that involves the three French Regions (Midi-Pyrénées, Languedoc-Roussillon and Aquitaine), the autonomous Communities of Catalonia, Aragon, Navarre and the Basque Region and the Principality of Andorra.

The idea was to present in the context of Interreg a cross-border map-making project combining the technological capability of the ICC and the know-how of Randonnées Pyrénéennes to satisfy the needs of walkers. A map covering the two sides of the Pyrenees did not exist and could not be made on the sole basis of French resources.



The two partners presented a project in the framework of Interreg I in 1992. The budget of roughly ECU 250,000 was financed in the following manner:

  • Interreg contribution (French quota only): 50%
  • Own funds Randonnées Pyrénéennes: 25%
  • Own funds ICC: 25%

In actual practice, one person from Randonnées Pyrénéennes was sent to work for the ICC part time to provide the specific knowledge which the ICC needed to make the map. It was published in 1993 in two languages (Catalan and French): it essentially covers the Spanish side for which there had existed no specific walking map until then, contrary to the French side. The map was marketed by the commercial company of Randonnées Pyrénéennes.

The operation's success prompted the two partners to present a new project in 1995 in the framework of Interreg II. This time they had to make a cross-border walking map covering 5 areas: 2 in Aragon, 1 in Navarre and 2 in Catalonia. The project has not yet been approved because of delays in implementing Interreg II, but it is worth noting that the Autonomous Region of Catalonia this time has decided to mobilise its Interreg quota to co-finance the project.

The cost of the maps will be less than in the first project, because the partners have learned to work together and to take advantage of their reciprocal skills: it is no longer necessary to establish working procedures or even to do fundamental research to produce these maps.

The relationship between the ICC and Randonnées Pyrénéennes has become a partnership, in that the ICC has taken a major stake in the capital of the company, with the stated ambition of becoming a Europe-wide producer of maps.



Gilles ENOT

Randonnées Pyrénéennes /BP 24 Tel: +33.562.90.09.90

F-65421 IBOS CEDEX Fax: +33.562.90.09.91

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