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Noyant la Gravoyère

Activity 1 Recordings, Resources Centres


The circle of Remembrance


As part of this activity, Noyant-la-Gravoyère set up, in collaboration with the association l’Ardoise (a service provider), a campaign to gather together the recollections of former slate miners

These recollections include accounts from slate workers' wives, sons and daughters, shopkeepers, bar keepers, councillors, public administration employees (Post Office, etc.), farmers, etc. 

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Forty interviews, out of the fifty planned in the first phase, have already been conducted.  


These recordings of recollections will constitute an intangible archive, an essential element in the setting up of a resource centre.



Activity 2 : Geology, the Environment Landscape



"Biodiversity Trail"


A circuit walk, integrated into the interpretive trail, On the Path to the Slate Quarries, allows visitors to discover the Misengrain Valley countryside with its wetlands and native flora and fauna.  

Educational panels devised by le Syndicat du Bassin de l’Oudon Sud (SBOS) (organisation responsible for management of the aquatic environment) are situated all the way along the trail, giving information on ​​the Corbinière wetlands, which are classified as a Zone Naturelle d’Intérêt Ecologique Faunistique et Floristique (ZNIEFF) - a nature site of ecological interest (fauna and flora). 


This protected wetland is a mosaic of natural environments, which attracts a wide variety of plant and animal species. Around twenty rare or endangered plant and animal species can be found in the biodiversity trail.


The inauguration of the biodiversity trail was held Friday, 5th July in the presence of Jean-Noël Gaultier the regional councillor, the Syndicat du Bassin de l'Oudon Sud and l'Agence de l'eau (Water Agency).


The Black Bee


Consideration is also being given to the introduction of the black bee in to la Vallée Verte at Misengrain; trials are underway.  

Activity 4 : Culture Heritage


Contemporary Art Trail: Bleu et Ardoise (Blue and Slate)


The municipality of Noyant-la-Gravoyère is committed to developing art in its area. The town has therefore used the services of the association Central 7 (a service provider) for the realisation of an art trail on the "blue and slate" theme. This art trail consists of murals, sculptures and installations.  


Three works of art were completed in 2011: on the community hall at Noyant-la-Gravoyère, on the "Salle des Parageots" (parageot was the name given to the workers that helped split the slate) and at the entrance to St Blaise Park:


The work on the community hall was carried out by Yohann Arneaud and entitled "Ceux d'à haut, ceux d'à bas" ("Those on Top and Those Down Below") in reference to the names given to the slate workers, depending on whether they worked at the bottom of the mine, extracting the slate, or on the surface, transforming the slate blocks into fine slates.


Community Hall



Painted onto the "Salle des Parageots" walls is a creation by Thomas FREY, entitled "Ardoisonaure". This depicts a mythical animal eating blocks of schist and spitting out slate and finished products. 









Salle des Parageots



At the entrance to St Blaise Park, Jean-Marc BOURRASSEAU created "Passage Bleu" ("Blue Passage"): 12 steel sheets have been placed in line, in an upwards moving wave. They symbolise the slate extracted from the ground, worked and erected by man's hand.







Entrance to St Blaise Park


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Three works of art were also carried out in 2012: on the René BROSSARD School, in front of the town hall at Noyant-la-gravoyère and within St Blaise Park.










An eighth work of art is planned in the holiday village at Misengrain. This project, overseen by the municipality, will be jointly financed by the company GRDF and l'Association des Adultes Handicapés du Haut Anjou (an association for handicapped adults in the Upper Anjou region).


HAMAC: Musical Compilation


As part of Activity 4, Noyant-la-Gravoyère would also like to develop music. The HAMAC association was commissioned by the municipality of Noyant-la-Gravoyère to make a compilation of traditional and/or folklore music related to mining.  

The town aims in the future to entrust the music and themes to modern music bands, to enable young people to reclaim this musical heritage.

Activity 5 : Tourism and Development

Sur le chemin des Ardoisières (On the Path to the Slate Quarries)

tl_files/editeur/pdf/Photos/Photos2/rien 001.jpgAs part of the Atlanterra project, several actions have been planned by the municipality of Noyant la Gravoyère. The first of these is the creation of interpretive trails on the slate mining heritage.


On the Path to the Slate Quarries is a series of discovery and interpretive trails of slate and natural heritage in the municipality of Noyant la Gravoyère, consisting of landscapes, topography, industrial architecture, habitats, etc. These free trails consist of 4 circuits based on three different themes:


Culture/Heritage, Contemporary Art and Nature/Biodiversity. These are: The Contemporary Art Trail, The Biodiversity Trail, The Life of a "Perreyeux" (Mine Worker) Trail and The Discovery Trail.


The two circuit trails called The Life of a "Perreyeux" and The Discovery Trail are mainly designed with the Heritage/Culture theme in mind. These trails are for families looking for fun and culture in a relaxing, restful and natural environment.


35 educational panels found along the trail contain information that has been gathered from testimonies of former slate workers and through the work of a lecturer and researcher emeritus.


At Misengrain, in the former machine room of mine shaft no. 6, next to the slate Memorial inaugurated in 2012, visitors will be able to view a permanent exhibition retracing 150 years of slate mining at Misengrain, including technical developments, explanations of different trades, social development, manufacturing stages and certain events explained, etc. This exhibition offers a complete overview of the most important 



M-tourism: GPtO


tl_files/editeur/pdf/Photos/Photos2/GPTO.JPGAs well as the panels to be read along the trail there is also a great innovation to be tested: the M-Tourism.

The use of mobile technology is becoming more and more popular in the tourism sector and Noyant la Gravoyère wanted to take up the challenge of enhancing its territory and slate mining heritage with the use of Visioguide GPtO.


So, for those who wish to further their knowledge, certain trails can be followed with Visioguides, on loan at the St Blaise Park reception for 3 euros.




This amusing media tool guides the visitors along their tour and allows them to discover the human aspect - from the former slate workers' point of view - through interviews, local songs, quizzes, etc.


Mobile, light, with a touch screen and geolocation, easy to use and 100% waterproof – this is the first digital tool of its kind to be found in the Segré area!






Also as part of the Atlanterra project, and again with the aim of promoting its slate mining heritage, the municipality became interested in Geocaching, a leisure activity that involves using the Global Positioning System (GPS) to find or hide in all corners of the world containers called "caches" or "geocaches." Today, there are no less than 2,042,320 active caches worldwide.





Geocaching is way of getting people interested in things that they wouldn’t normally notice. This was what convinced the municipality of Noyant la Gravoyère to embark on the Geocaching experience.


Three geocaches have been placed in the town: two 'traditional' caches have been hidden at the Slate Mine Memorial and Velodrome, and one 'multicache', which is a little more complex, to discover the riches of la Vallée Verte at Misengrain.

Activity 6: Promoting Mining Heritage


Slate Mine Memorial


tl_files/editeur/pdf/Photos/Photos2/Memorial.JPGThe municipality of Noyant la Gravoyère has built a memorial in honour of the Misengrain Slate Mine victims. The task of creating this memorial was given to Pascal Brébion, an engraver who has learned the job of producing slate from a former perreyeux (slate mine worker).


On this memorial site, near to the machine room and mine shaft no. 6, where the slate miners went down, can be found the remembrance stones, upon which are inscribed the names of the slate workers who died at work. 


This memorial was inaugurated on May 26th, 2012, in the presence of Mr Daniel Dupuis, mayor of Noyant la Gravoyère, and Mr Jacques Auxiette, chairman for the Conseil Régional des Pays de la Loire (regional council for the Loire region).


In his speech that day, Mr Dupuis spoke of 15th November, 1888 which marked the worst disaster ever known in the history of slate mining. On the day of the accident 18 workers were killed and 15 bodies were left at the bottom of the mine. Misengrain subsequently experienced 18 other accidental deaths, while the slate quarries at St Blaise, the Gateliere, had only one.


Saturday, 26th May was a gathering for the victims' families, but also for the councillors of Noyant and Segré, local associations, former workers of Misengrain - the "circle of remembrance" - and trade union representatives from the slate mines. The day, during which the people of Noyant recalled their past, ended with the reading of the names of the miners who lost their lives as a result of this terrible accident.