RNHS trip to Bourgogne 2016

Tuesday 14th June to Monday 20th June

We are heading to France for an overseas Society trip, and will be based in Chȃteau-Chinon, the principal town of the Morvan, an ancient wooded highland area in Burgundy. It’s unspoilt, thinly populated, quiet and very lovely. To the south it’s bordered by the Loire, and other important waterways run through or near it. It’s a key place in French history, being a stronghold of Gallic tribes and subsequently the Romans, and important historical sites from both those eras, and more, are everywhere. In more recent times, it was a stronghold for French resistance fighters in the Second World War.

The lovely farmland to the south is the homeland of Charolais cattle, and herds can be seen everywhere. As the land gets higher, it becomes thickly-wooded, and although much of that woodland is nowadays coniferous, there are still large areas of ancient woodland, especially  beech and oak. There are many important areas of sphagnum bog, and other forms of acid grassland, with attendant flora and fauna. Much of the Morvan is designated a Natura 2000 site, because of the protected species found there.

Our aim will be to travel around different parts of the general area, visiting sites recommended for their wildlife value.  The outline itinerary is as follows (the exact order of days will be confirmed to participants later):

  1. Chateau-Chinon and the surrounding area, including a walk through ancient woodland to the source of the River Yonne, and also to les Gorges de Canche,  where the unusual microclimate means that a woodland mix characteristic of 5000 years ago, with its maples and limes, still flourishes.
  2. Exploring the Morvan: La Tourbière de Champ Gazon  (sphagnum bog), and les Prairies paratourbeuses de Montour (marshy/boggy acid grassland)
  3. The Canal du Nivernais and the surrounding area  – riverine habitat very good for invertebrates and birds  – with hopefully a visit to the RHNS President Joss Hanbury’s farm.
  4. Exploring the Loire – a visit to the Reserve Naturelle de la Loire, for birding along the river- banks and the many sandbanks (terns especially important). Later, visits to two more nature reserves: le Coteau de Chaumois (calcareous grassland) and La Domaine de la Beue (damp grassland and reedbeds)
  5. Les Mardelles et Tourbières de Prémery – sphagnum bog habitat to the west of the Morvan

We will be spotting additional areas to explore as we travel around. There will also be the possibility to visit other places of interest, for instance:

  • The Morvan Eco-museum
  • The Museum of the Resistance
  • The Museum of Charolais breeding and farming
  • The Gallo-Roman fortress of Bibracte on Mont Beuvray, an archaeological site of staggering size.

A selection of photographs from the visit by Ann and Linda in July last  year can be seen on Flickr here:

(click on photo)

le haut folin7 - heath spotted orchids