22-23 August: We get moving in Morvan

Author: Mrs A

Location: Morvan Regional Natural Park, Ousoux-en-Morvan, Bourgogne, France

Thursday: When we saw a green patch on the map not far from us we couldn’t resist heading there to visit to hopefully do some hiking. We succeeded in our mission… In fact over the last two days we have walked more than 32 kilometres (or 20 miles in old measurements)….and our legs are feeling it too! These have not been flat kilometres either – we are staying on top of a hill, which means around half a kilometre of ascent and descent each day too!

Morvan Regional Natural Park (RNP) is a designated rural area with a strong identity derived from a rich natural and cultural heritage. The goal of an RNP is to encourage sustainability in development while preserving the natural and cultural environment. It’s a large area, so we picked a random campsite with good reviews and drove on over. It turned out that the village we picked, Ouroux-en-Morvan, is the official centre of the Eurozone (the 19 countries adopting the Euro as legal tender)…not that we saw much evidence of that.

We arrived around lunchtime, and were not long set up when we headed out for a hike. Given my broken toe, we have avoided hiking for the past month and a half , but the pain has now dulled to feeling just like a bruise… we’re not used to hiking!

Appreciating the change in scenery, looking very dry in late summer
Trees lush with seeds, nuts and fruit
A butterfly enjoys the last of the summer flowers
These legs were made for walking….

The scenery is very rural, rolling hills, fields of cattle, corn and hay, forestry evident everywhere. The walking paths are mostly old farm tracks, been around for so many centuries they are even marked on Google Maps.

Setting off down one of many criss-crossing lanes
Beautiful woodland pathways
A gorgeous fox hunting field mice and lizards in a field, we watched him for about 20 minutes as he got closer and closer to us

We hiked over to the Chapel of Banquets, a small church built in the mid 1800s on the grounds of a Château. It had commanding views over the countryside and was a great spot to rest and have a cup of tea.

The Chapelle de Banquet – so named because of the feasts local villagers used to enjoy on this hill with a view
It looks like there have been pagan visitors recently…
Mr A sitting in the shade pouring us a herbal tea…
Enjoying the view…already feeling the walk after only 6km

The circuit walk then proceeded to follow trails through beautiful woodland, across streams and passing via tiny sleepy villages.

Beech trees filtering the sunlight
Loving the scenery
Guard geese make a welcome change from yapping farm dogs

We concluded our walk at our campground after 15km (9 miles), where we ordered two plates of fish and chips, enjoyed with a bottle of wine purchased at a cave in our nearby village of Ousoux-en-Morvan. Yes…we combined hiking with wine tasting, not something we do every day!

Friday: After that successful walk, we decided to repeat our efforts the following day. This time the circuit took us down to a reservoir and back up – a 17km hike. The day was even warmer, topping out at 31°C, so the final kilometres uphill were pretty exhausting.

Every little village has a well with one of these pumps
Beautiful colours of the countryside
We are eyed with suspicion by the bovine locals everywhere we go
Countryside views
Reservoir Panniciere-Chaumord
An elf
Climbing up and and up on our return hike
Dwarfed by giant pine plantations…
Relishing the shade
We enjoyed a cup of tea here while watching a pair of swamp harriers hunting in the field below

After showers and lots of rehydrating we still managed to go out to dinner in our local village. In the main, Ouroux-en-Morvan looks fairly run down and abandoned, weeds in the gutter and a general feeling of neglect. It was pretty quiet on our visit despite being peak holiday season in Europe, with plenty of room on our campsite for spontaneous visitors. We can imagine it would be fairly bleak during the winter months. That said, our dinner at Le Lion d’Or was delicious, and their excellent reviews well deserved.

Pastis as an aperitif for Mr A
House red for Mrs A

We had four courses for €25 (AU$41/£23) plus a carafe of house red (which was really good). Despite dairy being an issue for me, I was able to eat something from every course (other than the local cheeses – this is cow country), including a marvellous poached pear and home made blueberry sorbet. A fabulous end to our visit in the region.

The village lit up as the sun sets
Heading home
Goodbye Morvan

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