Auvergnats - Economy

Subsistence and Commercial Activities. The region depends upon agriculture, industry, and tourism. Agriculture varies from mixed farming and vine growing in the lowlands to dairy farming and cattle raising in the mountains. Cheese making continues to be important to the agricultural Economy (especially Saint Nectaire le Cantal cheeses). The Michelin tire company, based in Clermont-Ferrand, dominates the industrial economy. Tourism has long been Important in the region, owing to thermalism and mineral waters in such towns as La Bourboule, Vichy, and Le Mont Dore. Today, winter sports and camping are being developed.

Industrial Arts. In the past Auvergnats participated in several artisanal industries, which are now declining. Lace making was important in the regions of Le Puy, Aurillac, and Craponne. Thiers has long been a center for cutlery; and Ambert is known for its artisanal papermaking industry.

Trade. Supermarkets and shopping centers dominate in urbanized areas. In towns and villages, however, small specialty shops (bakeries, butcher shops, groceries, etc.) are common. Open-air fairs and markets (foires) operate on a calendrical cycle, and regional centers specialize in certain types of markets (e.g., cheese, livestock, etc.). Agricultural fairs are becoming less common but remain vital in the southern portion of the region. Traveling vendors and merchants are Common in more remote areas. Auvergnats participate in worldwide markets and, as French citizens, are incorporated into the European Community.

Division of Labor. As in the rest of France, the Auvergne has both class-based and gender-based divisions of labor. The sexual division of labor in rural Auvergne varies among local regions, but women are primarily responsible for household labor and child rearing, and men for farm labor.

Land Tenure. Auvergne is characterized by smallholding farms, with farm ownership in the hands of owner-farmers. Up until the early twentieth century, however, sharecropping was common in the region. A process of regrouping scattered holdings ( le remembrement ) has been encouraged by the Government in recent years.

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