Charter of values and quality of the historical and tourist European itinerary

The Trail of Huguenots and Waldensians”

 

Project outline:

 

The Trail of Huguenots” (called “The Trail of Huguenots and Waldensians” in Swiss and Germany) is a cooperative project within the LEADER+ European program carried out by several local bodies (municipalities, Unions of Municipalities, French regional parks...) of Germany, Italy and France and by institutional and private partners from Switzerland, Italy, Germany and France. The project consisted in creating an international hiking itinerary following the memorable trails of the French Huguenots exile through Germany and Switzerland caused by the revocation of the Edict of Nantes (1685-1690), and in the creation of two other itineraries from Italy to Switzerland: the Exodus and the Glorious Return of Waldensians hailing from Piedmont.

 

Historical background:

In 1598 King Henry IV of France issued the Edict of Nantes allowing the freedom of worship to Protestants – albeit with some limitations – and granted them some strongholds. The proclamation of the Edict represented the end of a series of religious wars that devastated France in the XVI century.

In 1685 King Louis XIV of France renounced the Edict of Nantes, so that Protestantism was banned throughout the French territory.

Several Protestants did not submit to the novel disposals and chose to emigrate to Switzerland, Germany, England or The Netherlands – all countries where the protestant religion was widespread. These departures went on for several years: around 200,000 people left France, including many artisans and bourgeois.

Indeed, the prince-electors of Hesse and Brandenburg realized the opportunities ensued by welcoming the Huguenots population. They were often educated and with a good intellectual level. Thus, they implemented several measures of hospitality even before the revocation of the Edict of Nantes: they granted them land plots and allowed them to constitute their own parallel legal and criminal administration. The French integration was almost calm and involved the transfer of several skills from one country to the other.

Between 1685 and 1698 in Piedmont the presence of Waldensians was seriously endangered. In 1686 Duke Vittorio Amedeo II of Savoy revoked the edicts concerning the presence of Protestants in the Waldensians Valleys. As a result, a period of strong persecutions followed. In 1687 the Waldensians who survived massacres and imprisonment took the road of exile through Switzerland and Germany. However, in August 1689 some hundreds Waldensians decided to go back to their own valleys: their armed expedition, called the “Glorious Return”, would end with a success.

 

Preamble of the Charter:

As a consequence of the works carried out in the first phase of the LEADER+ multinational cooperative project, a cultural hiking itinerary named “The Roads of Huguenots and Waldensians” was traced out between Le Poët-Laval (south of France) and Bad Karlshafen (north of Hesse), and linked to the trails from Piedmont (northern Italy).

The following Charter of Values provides partners involved in the project a referential framework concerning the form and contents of international and national actions, enabling the partners to cooperate based on common values and commitments.

Objectives:

By the creation of the itinerary and thematic discovery areas, we intend to pursue the following objectives:

  • Enhancing the common (Huguenot and Waldensian) cultural heritage thanks to the attainment of the “European Cultural Routes” label, issued by the Council of Europe in the light of the investible budget.

  • Supporting the local economy thanks to high-quality tourism.

  • Increasing cooperation and European citizenship by encouraging meetings between persons.

Main values:

 

The project lays on the following values:

 

  • In memory of the past, the partners undertake to be tolerant in their relationships and to make tolerance the central idea of identity for all the partners, be they economical, private or institutional. The topic of Huguenots and Waldensians has to be treated equally.

  • The nature of the project is neither political nor religious.

  • In accordance with the ideas sustained in the Agenda of Rio de Janeiro, the project participants agree on the concepts of social, ecological and economical sustainability.

  • The trail, the presentation of historical facts and the communication efforts aim to the respect of historical reality, culture, heritage and nature, involving the five senses (touch, sight, hearing, taste and smell).

  • The topic treated in the itinerary integrates values such as modernity, the notion of network, interactivity and global community.

 

Quality:

 

The implementation of itineraries, infrastructures, tourist offer and promotion lays on quality values such as “wellness”, “comfort” and “conviviality”. The quality requirements are the following:

 

Implementation and set-up of the itinerary:

 

  • The itinerary must be located as much as possible in the natural environment, always remaining consistent with the historical and topographical characteristics. It must meet the current hiking quality requirements. Generally, the criteria to be followed in terms of safety and sign posting are dictated by national bodies in charge of the management of hiking trails.

  • The path trail must be continuous, direct, logical and consistent with the covered topic. Each stage must represent several aspects or curiosities of the historical and landscape heritage of the hiked over area.

  • Hikers’ basic requirements and needs must be taken into consideration.

  • The descriptions of stages trails, as well as length, altitude gap and available complementary offerings for each stage must be promoted by several media.

  • The orientation will be facilitated by the stage descriptions and practical and historical information made available on the website, as well as by the creation of a cutting-edge information and guidance system throughout the itinerary.

  • Departure and arrival points of each stage are linked to public transports, either directly or by shuttles.

  • The implementation of the itinerary and the cultural and tourist sites must take into account the needs of vulnerable persons, including accessibility, as well as the respect of the environment and the climate with commitment to Agenda 21.

 

Economy and ecology:

 

  • Within a desire to support local economy, local workers in the agricultural, artisanal and service industries will be fostered.

  • It is recommended to involve vulnerable persons in the implementation of the project (e.g. through integration contracts).

 

Cultural and tourist offerings:

 

  • The development of cultural and tourist offerings must i) take into account the covered topic as well as the issue of individual diversities, ii) include leisure activities, and iii) give opportunities of discoveries along with the covered topic. The migration and integration themes must be tackled in a contemporary perspective as well.

  • The itinerary topic must be extensively developed by using an appropriate equipment and background knowledge. The use of this material, however, must not be considered as exhaustive, as many complementary cultural and scenic contributions, local and/or travelling amenities (such as markets, concerts, festivals) and many other factors act together for a successful experience. It is recommended to find a balance between the leading topic and the complementary issues covered.

  • The travelled places can be involved in the project in different ways, depending on their location and their potential in building on the topic.

  • The areas owing a historical and cultural heritage and a strong offering potential, more or less linked to the topic, will be organized as “Discovery Areas”. These are the typical characteristics of Discovery Areas:

  • Each Discovery Area will be organized around a single remarkable feature. Taking into account the distinctive endogenous potentials, topics and thematic priorities may vary from a place to another, as well as the type of tourist enhancement. In this way, each Discovery Area will be positioned differently to a specific historical aspect.

  • The quality of the offer in the Discovery Areas ensures a realistic and lively interpretation of the topic. All Discovery Areas are interconnected with a joint marketing strategy. This includes, in particular, a graphic charter, an international website and a communication and economic plan as wide as possible. In parallel, the Discovery Areas must carry out specific operational marketing actions.

  • The basic criteria of the offering and tourist infrastructures are the following:

  • a key tourist attraction connected to the covered topic (e.g. museum, temple)

  • at least other ten minor tourist attractions.

  • two (or more) symbolic entrances or access points.

  • signage (panels, lighting, banners) in conformity with the graphic charter

  • at least one topic circuit in close proximity to the itinerary or a trail connected to the topic accessible by other transport means (e.g. bicycle).

  • at least one clearly acknowledged and adequately enhanced Huguenot or Waldensian site.

  • At least one Huguenot or Waldensian structure equipped for welcoming the public and for delivering information about the itinerary.

  • A program of cultural initiatives and guided tours about the topic, as well as one major cultural event a year.

 

  • The areas owing a minor historical-cultural heritage and tourist offering (such as certain passageways) serve as connections between two Discovery Areas. In this way, the central thread of the hiking trail enables the communication between different Discovery Areas.

 

The local providers are those who guarantee the quality of the itinerary. The concept of “quality” should not be confused with the notion of “luxury”. The tourist offering for the enhancement of the trail must fulfill certain quality standards. A handbook will be developed containing hotels and tourist offering quality of each country involved. The manual will contain information about the travelling trail and with respect to the quality of infrastructures, services and tourist offerings.

Each country is expected to take care of the training of employed providers along the itinerary.

 

Marketing

 

In every communication and marketing projects the graphic charter and logo must be clearly and constantly used in respect of the rights of use mentioned in the partnership agreement.

 

Cooperation

 

  • For what concerns the identification of the project participants, the municipalities, the Unions of Municipalities as well as tourist, cultural and hiking bodies must be included.

  • In the decision-making bodies, the priority is the principle of subsidiarity. Decisions must be taken on the basis of consensus.

  • The International Steering Committee takes part in decisions concerning the design and the development of the project. It is the guarantor for the compliance of this Charter and for Charter updates.

  • The International Steering Committee is responsible for granting the logo rights to delegate owners, who can, in turn, sign use agreements.

  • In the Discovery Areas local and regional partners constitute networks and design joint offerings.