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Bessin au Virois

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2 urban centres: Vire and Bayeux

Strong residential and tourist activity on the coast
Quality roads (A84 and N13) and network of small, well-serviced towns and villages.

Strong home/work links with the Pays de Caen

Situated to the west of Calvados and occupying 37.6% of the department, the Pays du Bocage au Virois covers a total surface area of 2,069km2. It comprises 14 cantons, 13 communities of communes and 249 communes including 21 within the Parc Naturel Régional des Marais du Cotentin et du Bessin (Regional Natural Park). In 2009, the area had a population of 140,512 inhabitants, representing 21% of the total departmental population and giving an average density of 68 inhabitants per km2. Almost the entire district is covered by Communities of Communes. The area is in keeping with the life-style of its inhabitants.

21.6% of the district's population resides within an urban area with over 50,000 inhabitants (Caen).
There are very few enclosed zones. The Pays du Bocage au Virois is structured:
- around 2 urban centres (the only regional area of this type): Bayeux with 14,915 inhabitants and Vire with 12,998
- throughout boroughs and small towns providing a range of intermediate and/or local services:
Aunay-sur-Odon-Villers-Bocage (5 885 inhabitants).
The other communes, although lacking in specific infrastructures, are located within 7km of a service hub.
There are strong links with the Pays de Caen, essentially to the north of the district (effect of the main N13 road) and in the vicinity of Aunay-sur-Odon/Villers-Bocage (effect of the A84 motorway). The Vire district is more autonomous, attracting inhabitants from south east Manche (Sourdeval) and north west Orne (Tinchebray).
The area's demographic development is positive thanks to high coastal migration levels. Younger populations tend to settle alongside the A84, deserting the rest of the area and causing demographic decline (Isigny-sur-Mer, Balleroy or Caumont-l'Eventé).

Industrial activity is concentrated around Vire, whereas service providers and agrifood businesses tend to prefer Bayeux. Agriculture and fishery are the main activities in the Bessin area, however they are more readily vulnerable sectors. The industrial activity in the vicinity of Vire appears to be more stable. The entire area suffers from the lack of a north/south dual carriageway linking Bayeux and Vire via Villers-Bocage to the A84 (as is the case in Manche with the development of the RN174 between the A84 and Saint Lô, and its extension reaching the RN13)
Tourism is essential and the area is home to some of the region's finest jewels: the Bayeux Tapestry, the D-Day landing beaches, fortified farms, bungee jumping, Jurques zoological park.
A project is underway requesting that the D-Day landing beaches be classified as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

PER (RURAL CENTRE OF EXCELLENCE) Prefecture information letter n°44-12/06
The Pays du Bessin au Virois has been chosen to lead the project entitled « management of the development of local waste into bio-resources »
3 of the 4 operations led by the centre of excellence concern the organisation of a wood energy branch, the fourth operation involving the creation of co-composting platforms for organic waste in order to limit the use of chemical fertilizers. (The SEROC is a mixed union which has been created specifically to coordinate this project and is due to recruit 18 people in difficult situations in partnership with an association and a reintegration organisation).

  • Carte du Pays du Bessin au Virois
  • Panorama de Port-en-Bessin