Marius Vazeilles was an enlightened man who had a significant impact on the Millevanches plateau through his forestry, archaeological and political work.
Born in 1881 in Puy de Dôme, and graduate of the school at Barres, in 1913 he became General Keeper of the Waterways and Forests of Meymac. At that time the Millevanches plateau was a vast swath of land covered in gorse and heather. In order to improve living conditions for those living off the land, and slow the rural exodus, he recommended an ambitious programme of reforestation using deciduous and softwood varieties of trees and published a work on the subject. He refused a promotion that would have seen him transferred to Rodez and resigned from the administration to become a nurseryman in Meymac.
Over the course of his research on the lands, he developed a passion for archaeology. Self-taught, he undertook digs, especially on the Cars site at Saint-Merd-les-Oussines. He became a renowned specialist in the Gallic, Gallo-Roman and Merovingian periods and exhibited his finds in premises he opened up to the public. As a humanist, the transfer of knowledge was of paramount importance for Vazeilles.
He also took a keen interest in peasant life and collected tools and other common objects in everyday use in rural life from the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries.
He fought for workers’ rights and attended the International Peasant Workers Congress in Moscow, in both 1923 and 1925. He was elected as a town councillor for Meymac, and in 1936 became a communist deputy for the Front Populaire (The Popular Front). Vazeilles was stripped of this role by the Vichy government in 1940, then imprisoned and subsequently placed under house arrest.
After the war, he received numerous accolades and carried on with his work in Haute-Corrèze until his death in 1973.
Nowadays, the large archaeological and ethnographic collection built up over his lifetime is housed at Meymac, in the Marius Vazeilles Museum of Archaeology and Cultural Heritage. An annual exhibition is held covering different thematic aspects of the collection, to bring it to public view.
This former Deputy for the Popular Front party was very heavily engaged in Meymac life between 1913 and 1973. He was active in the development of farming and forestry, archaeological digs and he collected objects of ethnographic interest.
The collections he amassed over the course of his life are on display in the museum that bears his name.