Paris residents looking for a break from big city life can from this Friday onwards visit France’s newest parc national on the Burgundy-Champagne border.
The park, which was conceptualised in 2009 by former French Prime Minister François Fillon, is located on the Langres plateau between Haute-Marne and Côte-d'Or departments, about three hours’ drive from the French capital.
Dubbed the Parc National des forets de Champagne et Bourgogne, it covers 250,000 hectares and encompasses 127 communes which are home to 28,000 residents.
“This national park is very representative of both the French countryside and its forests” said Hervé Parmentier, director of the French Public Interest Group (GIP) that responsible for creating the park and protecting its deciduous forests.
Visitors can expect to be dazzled by ancient forests, rare flower species such as the sabot-de-vénus orchid and narcisse des poètes, springs and rivers, beautifully-preserved landscapes as well as small shops and businesses which sell local produce.
There are also black storks, deer, wild boar, deer and wild cats roaming the park.
Outdoor sport aficionados will be able to enjoy 2,000 km of hiking trails and 700 km of rivers for kayaking and other water sports.
“Eighty percent of the trees here already were there at the time of the French Revolution,” Parmentier added. The area also has archaeological remains dating back to 750BC.
Despite the fact that visitor numbers are expected to increase from the current 30,000 a year to 100,000 within two to three years, farmers and foresters are concerned that their harvesting and felling area will be diminished as more of the territory is dedicated to tourism and preservation, with no financial compensation in sight as of yet.