Geotourism and activities - Beaujolais UNESCO Global Geopark

  • Couverture

15 Micro adventures in Geopark Beaujolais

A micro-adventure =
1 unmissable geosite
1 hike
1 producer

In the Beaujolais UNESCO Global Geopark, we would like to introduce you to "the idea that landscapes hold memories". That's why we have created micro adventures for you. They are short, local adventures in natural areas, along hiking trails, meeting local producers or craftspeople. Most of these adventures can be accessed on public transport, to reduce CO2 emissions. Each micro adventure will unveil some geological discoveries, either through this guide, on the sites or by listening to a podcast.

Here you can read the 15 micro-adventure guide.

  • Aa min

Micro adventure #1 : Plunge deep into the forests

Unmissable geosite: Mont Saint Rigaud
Hike: 16km / 660m difference in altitude
Meet the producers: Col de Crie local products' shop

The eye of the geologist

From the observation tower at the top, we can see the vineyard to the east, the Beaujolais mountains to the south, Loire plain to the west and the Charolais-Brionnais country to the north. The transition between these landscapes has been influenced by geology. At the crossroads, Mont Saint Rigaud is found on the watershed, and the peaks mark the divide between the Loire-Atlantique and Rhône-Méditerranée basins.

Each drop of rain that falls on this line of peaks has to choose its side, and therefore how its journey will continue.

  • Fr le lac des sapins cublize 9

Micro adventure #2 : In the land of long-gone volcanoes

Unmissable geosite: Lac des Sapins
Hike: 15km / 483m difference in altitude
Meet the producer and craftsperson: Domaine des Meyré and Fun'Yaourt

The eye of the geologist

In this idyllic setting, it's difficult to imagine that around 340 million years ago, way before the time of the dinosaurs, this environment was a lot more hostile and lava, red hot debris and ash would spurt out from the depths of the volcanoes (sometimes the ash at a speed of several hundred kilometres per hour). This is revealed by the local rock, characterised by its grey-blue colour and encrusted lighter colour crystals.

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Micro adventure #3 : Water at the centre of the Beaujolais mountains’ industrial history

Unmissable geosite: Déchelette District
Hike: 6.2km / 130m difference in altitude
Meet the producer and craftsperson: The Ferme du Passet

The eye of the geologist

It is thanks to the geology of this area that the water that flows along the river is of very good quality, clear and with very few impurities. This can be explained by the presence of crystalline rocks (mainly made up of crystals) which, unlike limestone, are not particularly water-soluble and so help produce water of high quality, that can be very interesting for the textiles industry. We speak here of soft water, as opposed to hard water which is calcareous.

  • Gael fontaine vue sur le mont brouilly et les vignes du beaujolais france min

Micro adventure #4 : In the land of blue stone

Unmissable geosite: Mont Brouilly
Hike: 26km / 452m difference in altitude
Meet the producer and craftsperson: Espace des Brouilly

The eye of the geologist

The rock from Mont Brouilly literally comes from the bowels of the Earth. This rock originated at the bottom of an ocean that was being formed around 370 million years ago. Expulsed by underwater volcanoes, the basalt rock was scattered and therefore formed a new oceanic crust. Later, when two ancient continents collided, this rock was found buried deep in a huge mountain chain. The original rock had been compressed, fractured and then heated by the magma, slowly transforming into metamorphic rock. Then, after dozens of millions of years of erosion, this rock, more resistant than the granite rock around it, made its way to the surface and today forms one of the mountainous peaks.

  • Gael fontaine paysage du beaujolais au lever du jour 2 min

Micro adventure #5 : Voyage to the centre of the forgotten mountains

Unmissable geosite: Chiroubles Terraces
Hike: 2km
Meet the producer and craftsperson: The Chalet de la Terrasse

The eye of the geologist

The Chiroubles Terraces are perched up above the vineyards, for an outstanding natural viewpoint over the Crus du Beaujolais vineyards. At this site, you can witness a major event in the local geological history: the formation of the Hercynian orogenic belt. This chain of mountains was formed by the collision of two ancient continents, and covered a good part of Europe, between 400 and 300 million years before our time. Back then, the Beaujolais region just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

  • Gael fontaine la tour bourdon aux premieecres lueurs matinales beaujolais 3

Micro adventure #6 : Under the vines..there are stones !

Unmissable geosite: Tour Bourdon & Maison du Terroir Beaujolais
Hike: 29km / 270m difference in altitude
Meet the producer and craftsperson: The Maison du Terroir Beaujolais

The eye of the geologist

The Beaujolais vineyard is full of contrasts, due to the complex geology that created a land of diverse landscapes, soils and winegrowing "terroir". A real-life mosaic stretches out before you, with a diverse palette of soils and rocks. This, combined with the weather conditions, the undulating hills, and the winegrower's choices and practices, has created unique "terroirs" and a one-of-a-kind grape variety.

  • Gael fontaine cloister of salles arbuissonnas beaujolais france 4000 x 6000 min

Micro adventure #7 : When geology is reflected in the monuments

Unmissable geosite: The priory church
Hike: 11.6km
Meeting the producers: Domaine des Terres Vivantes, Château de Pravins

The eye of the geologist

At the historic site of the Priory church, cloister and church, visitors can witness how local geology is reflected in the built heritage. (Almost) all the geological diversity of the Beaujolais can be seen in the architecture of this site. There is a stone for each era, as well as a stone-cutting and sculpture technique. The museum here offers a tour of the local "geoheritage".

  • La carrie re de glay et sa pierre calcaire de couleur dore es 3 min

Micro adventure #8 : Voyage to the era of the quarries and builders

Unmissable geosite: The Carrières de Glay
Hike: 9km / 140m difference in altitude
Meet the craftspeople: Carrières de Glay Association

The eye of the geologist

The Carrières de Glay were used for 500 years and produced stone that was used in construction all over the southern part of the Beaujolais region and the region around Lyon. The stone extracted here was the iconic "Pierre Dorée" (Golden Stone), used in the construction of walls for houses, angles, window frames and windowsills. This stone was soft, and so easy to cut and sculpt.

  • Gael fontaine landscape and village of bagnols beaujolais 3 copie

Micro adventure #9 : Short-circuit architecture

Unmissable geosite: Bagnols, where the house emerged from the ground
Hike: 8.5km / 180m difference in altitude
Meet the producers: Domaine des Vignes d'Hôtes and the Relais des Saveurs

The eye of the geologist

"Nothing is lost, nothing is created, everything is transformed" as Lavoisier once said. This can also be applied to built heritage in the Beaujolais region, especially in Bagnols. The local geological resources were in abundance and of good quality, and we can still see this in the identity of the landscape in southern Beaujolais.

  • Gael fontaine oingt village in beaujolais land and his small steet min

Micro adventure #10 : A village with a golden heart

Unmissable geosite: Oingt
Hike: 6.4km / 210m difference in altitude
Meet the winegrowers and craftspeople: Vignerons des Pierres Dorées & Artisans d'Art de Oingt

The eye of the geologist

Oingt is one of the Most Beautiful Villages in France thanks to its glistening golden appearance, which is directly linked to the nature of the stone here: crinoidal limestone (known locally as "pierre dorée" (golden stone)). This village with medieval narrow streets is in a strategic location, standing proudly on a peak, and its silhouette is a key feature of the southern Beaujolais landscapes.

  • Orchis abeille

Micro adventure #11 : 450 million years back in time

Unmissable geosite: Monts d'Or Geological Trail
Hike: 9.1km / 333m difference in altitude
Meet the winegrower: Domaine Decrenisse

The eye of the geologist

The story told along this geological trail began 450 million years ago. This is when the ancient bedrock was first formed - made from gneiss - and upon which all the later rock was then deposited. These rocks are all limestone, made from a combination of sediments eroded from the mountains and the remains of living beings (fossils) that once inhabited the Jurassic Seas. Many years later, when the rocks rose to the surface, the movement of tectonic plates completely shattered the initial landscape, breaking up and shifting the layers, and forming the very origins of the landscape we see today. As you walk along this trail, you'll be crossing over very different geological sections, that correspond to environments from successive periods throughout history.

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Micro adventure #12 : Plunge to the heart of this land of the Golden Stones

Unmissable site: The Voie du Tacot
Hike: 30km
Meeting the winegrower: Château de l'Eclair

The eye of the geologist

To discover and admire this "Pays des Pierres Dorées" (Land of the Golden Stones), you'll need to take your time and really take in the scenery all around you. This is precisely what you can expect along the Voie du Tacot: a former railroad that has been transformed into a 20-kilometre trail, to explore either on foot or by bicycle. As you walk/ride along, the scenery will unfold before you, and you'll see evidence of the geology all around you: the rock lining the footpath, rock extracted from a quarry, rock that was used to build walls.

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Micro adventure #13 : Villefranche, from the Jurassic era to the Renaissance

Unmissable geosite: Villefranche, trail of the hidden treasures
Hike: 2km / 60m difference in altitude
Meet the producers: Indoor market

The eye of the geologist

Beyond their architectural beauty, the courtyardand houses of the Renaissance also showcase the geological resources of the Beaujolais region and further afield. The iconic "pierre dorée" (golden stone) was of course one of the key building materials, and it was used in a range of different situations because it was easy to cut (breeze blocks, columns, lintels). It is not rare to see seashell fossils encrusted into the grey stone, often used in the form of slabs (porch, steps), corresponding to limestone

banks. The white stone of Lucenay can for example be seen on the Gothic-style facade of the Collegiate church of Notre-Dame des Marais, among others. This fine-grained stone produces elegant

results that are often seen in courtyards and on the walls of houses.

  • Lucenay carriere credit martial iteprat office de tourisme beaujolais pierres dorees 4 lt

Micro adventure #14 : Along the route of the white stone

Unmissable geosites: Vieil Anse, Château des Tours and Carrière de Lucenay
Hike: 11.1km / 110m difference in altitude
Meet the producers: Cœur de Ferme

The eye of the geologist

The built heritage of Lucenay, much like Anse, showcases the remains of the "Pierres Dorées" (Golden Stones). It is particularly the white walls that stand out, built from local limestone extracted from the many quarries in the surrounding area. Locally known as "Lucenay stone", this limestone is almost exclusively composed of oolite (small spherical grains less than 2mm in diameter). These grains were formed around 165 million years ago, in a highly agitated and fairly shallow marine water environment (0-10 metres deep).

  • Valdesaoneok

Micro adventure #15 : A valley with many different faces

Unmissable geosite: "Lône" of the Val de Saône
Hike: 22km / 70m difference in altitude
Meet the producers: Ferme en Ville farm products

The eye of the geologist

In the Val de Saône, the variation of landscapes is characteristic of the areas around big rivers, with wet meadows, freshwater swamp forests, secondary branches (lônes), islands or ponds teeming with biodiversity. There are numerous plant and animal species here such as the European beaver, the Eurasian curlew, marsh euphorbia, northern crested newt, large copper and the snake's head fritillary.