Great forest walks near the gates of the Royal City of Loches
In early 2021, 30 oak trees from the Loches National Forest were selected for an extraordinary purpose: to be used in reconstructing the framework of Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris. Forests supply wood, but also absorb carbon, create oxygen, filter water, protect biodiversity and are also a great setting for a walk… Our forests definitely provide a wide range of services.
A little history
In France, the earliest regulations about producing and selling wood date from 1219, before a first plan for forestry organisation was created by a ruling of King Philip IV in 1291 and the appointment of forest masters. Today, about 10% of French forests are state-owned.
This has been the case for the Loches forest since 1790. It is a “domanial” (state-owned) forest. The job of managing the woodland area of 3,600 hectares (about 55,000 tennis courts!) is delegated to the National Forests Office. They take care of this large area of sessile oak (92%), Scots pine (6%) and other resinous trees (2%). The oak is of very high quality and is used in particular to make barrels.
Combined with a visit to the Royal City of Loches or the Château de Montrésor, to the villages of Chédigny and Beaulieu-lès-Loches, or to the Chemillé-sur-Indrois outdoor leisure centre, the Loches Forest is also home to some interesting sights to discover along its short walking trails (download the Loches Forest trails map):
- The four pyramids are stone monuments built in the 18th century alongside the forest roads as landmarks to guide hunting parties.
- The Orfonds fountain, with a horseshoe-shaped wall around it, was probably used to supply water to the Gallo-Roman aqueduct.
- The Saint-Jean du Liget chapel: was once part of the Liget Charterhouse (a heritage site with gîtes, not far from the Corroirie castle-monastery which combines a site open to visitors and guestrooms). It features attractive polychromatic Romanesque frescoes. To help preserve the paintings, only occasional visits are organised.
- Etang du Pas aux Ânes: this is the biggest lake in the Loches National Forest, covering over 6 hectares. It was also part of the Charterhouse estate. Once, newly married couples walked round the lake to ask for the protection of two tragic lovers, Perrine and Pierre. Perrine was in love with Pierre, and chose to throw herself into the lake’s icy waters rather than marry the cruel Baron of Sennevières. Pierre became a Carthusian monk and saw Perrine’s ghost every year on Christmas Eve.
A walk in the Loches National Forest
As well as hiking trails, the large bridle paths are a chance to enjoy a great day’s cycling. 5 bicycle tourism circuits run through the forest: “the royal getaway“ (18 km), “at the heart of the national forest“ (16.5 km), “the rose in the valley“ (10 km), “the donkey and the king“ (24.5 km) and “oak and water“ (17.5 km). In Loches, you can hire a regular or electric bike.
But “bridle paths” also mean horses and ponies! So in Sennevières, the “Poney Club Annabelle“ is a chance for children to ride a pony and follow the path leading to the Liget Chapel. Other forest rides are also on offer leaving from Genillé with the Aude Favreau horseriding centre.
And here’s an original idea: a ride on an off road electric scooter with Trott’ecow!