Morvan: Why you should visit one of France’s most beautiful and least known areas

It's one of the least-known natural parks in France, but French writer Anne Brivet explains why to her it is the perfect place for a visit.

Morvan: Why you should visit one of France's most beautiful and least known areas
Photo: AFP

I discovered Morvan 20 years ago, when my grandparents moved to a tiny hamlet in the mountainous area in eastern France, in the Bourgogne-Franche-Comté region.

From then on, I spent most of my holidays there. I was four at the time, and all I could say about Morvan was that it was green, humid, quiet and full of pine trees. Oh, and it's probably the dampest and rainiest area of France.

But many years later I still love it and have gained a new appreciation for the surrounding area and activities. Here's why you should pay Morvan a visit.


Morvan is France's largest producer of Christmas trees. Photo: AFP

The peace

One of the most striking facts about the area is how peaceful it is. With a population density of around 15 inhabitants per square kilometre, it is a radical change if you are from a big city.

In harmony with the low number of inhabitants, telecommunications are not the most developed. It can be very hard to get a signal from many French telephone operators, so from my experience be careful with SFR or Bouygues.

Of course, people have wifi in their houses. But the real adventure begins when you go for a walk with a possibly unreliable phone.

It will be the perfect occasion to start a 'digital detox' during your holidays. And if you get lost without any GPS, you can still ask your way in a small village.

You will then discover the local accent and dialect morvandiau, especially if you encounter people over 70. It is confusing but I assure you, it is French.

The scenery

There may not be many people, but Morvan has many other things to offer.

It is characterised by its forests, hills and lakes.

You will see a lot of green, breathtaking views, well protected by the Parc Naturel Régional designation. Indeed, the area is considered a part of France's heritage.

I would recommend going there in autumn for the beautiful orange and red colours in the trees as the seasons change, but spring is also good if you want to see all this vegetation blooming (and gain Instagram followers).

Fun fact, Morvan is well-known for being the biggest producer of Christmas trees in France – every year, the Elysée Palace’s Christmas tree is brought from Morvan.

The historic capital of Chateau-Chinon is well worth a visit. Photo: AFP

The hiking

All this nature is perfect if you are a fan of hiking. Walking is probably one of the best ways of enjoying Morvan’s beauty. It also increases your chances of seeing foxes, deer or other types of wildlife.

My cousin has been a hiker for more than 10 years, and he recently told me how he still discovers new paths and areas he has never seen before.

One of the best pieces of advice he gave me was 'Around here, avoid leaving the paths or you will lose one of your shoes in a swamp'. Because of the high rainfall, damp can also come from the ground at certain times of the year.

If you like horse riding or cycling there are also numerous places to explore and equestrian and bike hire centres that are friendly and welcoming.

The climate is most of the time quite tough, so pack extra sweaters and don't forget your raincoat!

The lakes

As well as its forested areas, Morvan contains three big lakes, on which you can sail or windsurf, boat hire is available.

Of course, you can also swim in them but I recommend waiting for the summer unless you are particularly hardy. A great technique to find a beautiful and deserted beach is to go hiking around one of the lakes (with your swimsuit) until you find the perfect spot.

The lakes are Chaumeçon with its large dam, Les Settons which has boats and bike rental and Pannecière.

The attractions

At some point, you might get tired of the countryside – no need to worry, the area contains some very nice cities and tourist attractions as well.

Château-Chinon is considered the historic capital of the Morvan area and is well worth a visit.

For an artistic visit, the Pompon museum, in Saulieu, will allow you to admire the work of this famous French sculptor, who was born in the city. The museum also has a room with a reconstruction of the traditional  'morvandelle' house, and a presentation of various local traditions such as clog making.

The Bazoches castle is also perfect for a rainy day. This is where Vauban, a famous military architect who specialised in fortifications, lived and worked.

Avallon and Autun are both Roman cities with a lot of ancient remains  – a must see.

In a nutshell: the Morvan is peaceful and gorgeous, but even better if you are wearing a windcheater.

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‘Painful’ – is Paris Charles de Gaulle airport really that bad?

Following a survey that said Paris Charles de Gaulle airport was the best in Europe, we asked Local readers what they thought...

'Painful' - is Paris Charles de Gaulle airport really that bad?

Recently, Paris Charles de Gaulle was voted the best airport in Europe by passengers.

The 2022 World Airport Awards, based on customer satisfaction surveys between September 2021 and May 2022, listed the best airport on the planet as Doha, while Paris’s main airport came in at number 6 – the highest entry for a European airport – one place above Munich. 

READ ALSO Paris Charles de Gaulle voted best airport in Europe by passengers

Given CDG’s long-standing reputation doesn’t quite match what the World Airport Awards survey said – in 2009 it was rated the second-worst airport in the world, while in 2011 US site CNN judged it “the most hated airport in the world” – we wondered how accurate the survey could be.

So we asked readers of The Local for their opinion on their experience of Europe’s ‘best’ airport. 

Contrary to the World Airport Awards study, users erred towards the negative about the airport. A total 30.8 percent of Local readers – who had travelled through the airport in recent months – thought it was ‘terrible’, while another 33.3 percent agreed that it was ‘not great’ and had ‘some problems’.

But in total 12.8 percent of those who responded to our survey thought the airport was ‘brilliant’, and another 23.1 percent thought it ‘fine’, with ‘no major problems’.

So what are the problems with it?


One respondent asked a simple – and obvious – question: “Why are there so many terminal twos?”

Barney Lehrer added: “They should change the terminal number system.”

In fact, signage and directions – not to mention the sheer size of the place – were common complaints, as were onward travel options. 

Christine Charaudeau told us: “The signage is terrible. I’ve often followed signs that led to nowhere. Thankfully, I speak French and am familiar with the airport but for first time travellers … yikes!”

Edwin Walley added that it was, “impossible to get from point A to point B,”  as he described the logistics at the airport as the “worst in the world”.

And James Patterson had a piece of advice taken from another airport. “The signage could be better – they could take a cue from Heathrow in that regard.”

Anthony Schofield said: “Arriving by car/taxi is painful due to congestion and the walk from the skytrain to baggage claim seems interminable.”

Border control

Border control, too, was a cause for complaint. “The wait at the frontière is shameful,” Linda, who preferred to use just her first name, told us. “I waited one and a half hours standing, with a lot of old people.”

Sharon Dubble agreed. She wrote: “The wait time to navigate passport control and customs is abysmal!”

Deborah Mur, too, bemoaned the issue of, “the long, long wait to pass border control in Terminal E, especially at 6am after an overnight flight.”

Beth Van Hulst, meanwhile, pulled no punches with her estimation of border staff and the airport in general. “[It] takes forever to go through immigration, and staff deserve their grumpy reputation. Also, queuing is very unclear and people get blocked because the airport layout is not well designed.”

Jeff VanderWolk highlighted the, “inadequate staffing of immigration counters and security checkpoints”, while Karel Prinsloo had no time for the brusque attitudes among security and border personnel. “Officers at customs are so rude. I once confronted the commander about their terrible behaviour.  His response said it all: ‘We are not here to be nice’. Also the security personnel.”


One of the most-complained-about aspects is one that is not actually within the airport’s control – public transport connections.  

Mahesh Chaturvedula was just one of those to wonder about integrated travel systems in France, noting problems with the reliability of onward RER rail services, and access to the RER network from the terminal.

The airport is connected to the city via RER B, one of the capital’s notoriously slow and crowded suburban trains. Although there are plans to create a new high-speed service to the airport, this now won’t begin until after the 2024 Olympics.

Sekhar also called for, “more frequent trains from SNCF to different cities across France with respect to the international flight schedules.”

The good news

But it wasn’t all bad news for the airport, 35 percent of survey respondents said the airport had more positives than negatives, while a Twitter poll of local readers came out in favour of Charles de Gaulle.

Conceding that the airport is “too spread out”, Jim Lockard said it, “generally operates well; [and has] decent amenities for food and shopping”.

Declan Murphy was one of a number of respondents to praise the, “good services and hotels in terminals”, while Dean Millar – who last passed through Charles de Gaulle in October – said the, “signage is very good. [It is] easy to find my way around”.

He added: “Considering the size (very large) [of the airport] it is very well done.  So no complaints at all.”