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Burgundy is a paradise for the nature lover. The jewel in the crown, sitting in the centre of Bourgogne is the Morvan Forest, a natural park covering nearly a quarter of a million hectares. This is a granite outcrop in the middle of a mainly limestone region. There are deep valleys and faults crossed by rapids, peaks covered with forest and mountainsides dotted with bogs and broom-covered heaths. The rivers Yonne, Cousin and Cure weave their way through the region forming some of the most picturesque valleys imaginable with wild cowslips and violets in profusion in spring. There are numerous tributaries and smaller rivers, waterfalls, lakes and reservoirs.
Over 150 species of birds have been sighted, and wild boar, deer, badgers and bats all have their home here. The six major lakes provide habitat for abundant fish – carp, perch, pike and trout – accompanied of course by the predatory bird population such as herons and kingfishers.
Bracken covers the forest floor, home to the oak, beech and holly, with pine and Douglas firs, and more recently Christmas tree plantations on higher ground.
Whether you like a gentle stroll or more stringent exercise there are walking and cycling routes mapped out, water sports on the lakes and rivers, and guided tours available. As the high land drops away to undulating hills and farmland, Charolais cattle rearing is prominent in the lush pastures. The Morvan Natural Park is governed from the Maison du Parc at St. Brisson where there is a tourist office and a Resistance Museum. The religious sites of Vézelay and l’Abbaye de la Pierre-qui-Vire lie within the Morvan Forest, with the towns of Avallon and Autun defining the north-south boundaries.
This is a wonderful environment for camping. The air is pure, the countryside is peaceful and all is right with the world. Camping du Lac, on Lake St. Agnan is now under new ownership and apart from a glorious situation, it offers activities for all the family from boules and table tennis to horse riding and kayaking. Bar and restaurant.www.burgundycamping.com
PLACES TO STAY
La Vieille Auberge, St-Agnan
Hotel Ibis, Autun
Hotel Restaurant du Parc, Château-Chinon
Logis de France Au Vieux Morvan, Château-Chinon
Hotel des Arcades, Autun
Morvan Rivers and lakes