Tuesday, 9 February 2016

The lure of the Loire Valley...its natural

The lure of the Loire Valley? For many it is the glorious chateaux or fine wines for others it is the areas cultural heritage. 'Centre Val de Loire' the region which plays host to the majority of its premier chateaux and a large stretch of the river is also rich in natural landscapes as diverse as the country (France) itself. 

The modern region is made up from the historical provinces of Orleans,Berry and Touraine. These have now been divided into 'departments' but each still hangs onto their own unique heritage.

The department of Indre formally part of Berry contains one of the gems of the region in the form of its nature park at La Brenne. An area of area of 160K+ hectares and home to around 2000 ponds/small lakes (French: ‘etangs’) it is naturally rich in fauna and flora, which means that it is home to a vast number of animal, bird and plant species. This draws the nature lovers and birdwatchers but because of the size of the park sometimes you can feel as if you have it all to yourself.

To help appreciate its rich biodiversity the park offers a selection of discovery trails (20) where you are lead along your way with the help of information boards. These include; “Sentier du Blizon” (Sentier: trail) near Rosnay with a nature trail about 1.5km (1 mile) in length there and back where you could fill your day watching and listening to wildlife. The trails vary in length and on what can be observed with the park offering viewing points and ‘hides’ around the lakes at Foucault, Bellebouche and Massé.

 The Chérine nature reserve near Saint-Michel-en-Brenne was initially set up to protect species of water fowl but their remit has since been extended to include insects and plant life. so here you have a very natural environment to explore.

The park caters for nature lovers (obviously) but also for others who just like to explore new environments. There is a visitor centre (Maison du Parc) at Le Bouchet near Rosnay plus during July and August you can visit the nearby Chateau du Bouchet. 

The castle which dates from the thirteenth, fifteenth and seventeenth centuries stands on high ground and offers great views over the lake ‘Mer Rouge’, the biggest in La Brenne. It is well worth adding to your itinerary if visiting the ‘Maison du Parc’.

At Bellebouche there is a sandy beach and the park offers swimming and other water sport options on the lake so really everyone is catered for.

La Brenne is easily accessible from the Southern Touraine area of Centre Val de Loire where you have a choice of pretty village houses for your accommodation.

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