Unspoiled nature reserves in Sud Val de Loire

THE PRAIRIES DU FOUZON

In Seigy, Couffy, Meusnes, Selles-sur-Cher, Noyers-sur-Cher and Chatillon-sur-Cher, between the loops of the Fouzon and Cher rivers, as far as Saint-Aignan, there is a large floodplain, covered with meadows: the prairies du Fouzon.

This sensitive natural area is exceptional, it is home to more than 300 species of plants of which about thirty are protected, including the Great Pimprenelle, the Meadow rue and the Marsh Germanders.

For the Centre – Val de Loire region, these meadows are also a precious breeding site for rare bird species, such as the Eurasian Curlew, the Red-backed Shrike and the Whinchat.

Visitors are asked to stay on the paths. A circular route already exists in Couffy and another loop is equipped with QR codes in Noyers-sur-Cher. Nature activities are organised throughout the year for groups but also for individuals. You can find out more from  the Conservatories, managers of the Prairies du Fouzon, or the Tourist Office.

The site is classed as Natura 2000 with two protected areas:

– Special conservation area (ZSC) ‘Cher Valley and hillsides, Gros Bois forest’,

– Special protection area ‘Prairies du Fouzon’

There are also two areas of national interest in classification:

 – Natural area of Ecological, Floral and Fauna interest (ZNIEFF)

– Important Bird Conservation Area (ZICO)

You can visit the Prairies du Fouzon and take part in nature workshops, organised by the Espace Naturel Centre Val de Loire Conservatory

THE PONTLEVOY NATURAL GEOLOGICAL RESERVE

The Reserve extends over approximately 2 ha and consists of two old quarries:

– the ‘Four à Chaux‘, where some important episodes of regional geological history have been recorded from the past 23 million years; you can observe the succession of 4 different sedimentary rocks corresponding to 4 ancient environments: lake, river delta, marine environment and river have all covered this site in a few million years; a large number of fossils (continental mammals, marine animals, shells, etc.) have enabled scientists to reconstruct precisely the environments present at certain times;

– the ‘Haut de la Plaine Saint-Gilles‘, where the famous ‘Pontlevoy stone’ was extracted which can still be seen in various buildings, such as Pontlevoy Abbey, the foundations of chateau de Chaumont-sur-Loire,  parapets of the Blois quays, Blois water tower, bridges over the Loire (Amboise, Montlouis-sur-Loire and part of one in Tours, SNCF bridge over the Cher in Tours), as well as in more modest constructions: houses , wells, fountains, war memorials, pavements, etc.

The Pontlevoy Regional Geological Nature Reserve is classified as a ‘Sensitive Natural Area’ (ENS) by the Departmental Council of Loir-et-Cher, for the exceptional character of its geology and for its artisan heritage interest. As such, it benefits from appropriate management by the various partners with a view to welcoming the public. The ENS classification allows the area to be managed (knowledge, maintenance, development, etc.) with the main aim of protection and educational and/or recreational enhancement.

 

New facilities were inaugurated in summer 2018, inviting visitors to take a 23 million year trip through geological history: a fun and interactive interpretation walk introduces the general public to the rich geology. The path is suitable for all, young and old, and disabled visitors.

Special events for schools are arranged jointly by the CDPNE and the Pays d’art et d’histoire de la Vallée du Cher et du Romorantinais: they are a historical and geological introduction to the Pontlevoy Regional Geological Nature Reserve.