'Follow the rhythm of nature'
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The Brenne region, extended over almost 494 000 acres, is situated between Châteauroux and Poitiers in the Indre department (region). It is one of the best kept secrets in France.
The Brenne covers a territory north of the Creuse river, and contains over 2000 lakes, giving the region the name of ‘land of a thousand lakes’. The largest lake, ‘Mer Rouge’, is 407 ac large. Right behind our house you will find ‘Etang Purais’, 143 ac large and since a couple of years has been purchased and is protected by the LPO (bird protection organization).
Heather and hills of red sandstone are characteristics of the true Brenne region. Fantastic for hikers, nature lovers, cyclists and horsemen. The large variety of biotopes (marshes, red land, meadows and forest) hosts not less than 2,300 different animal species and 1,200 different plant species.
The Brenne is the region where Nord meets South. Hardly 370 miles south from Belgium, you can observe Mediterranean species like the tree frog, the tongue orchid, the squacco heron, the booted eagle, or the whiskered tern. This region offers an exceptional richness in bird species: you can find about 270 different species here. with the whiskered tern (our logo) being the top one. Not less than 1/3 of the total population of this bird in France broods on ‘our’ Etang Purais. Other wonderful birds to observe are the back-necked grebe, the common bittern, the great reed warbler, the purple heron, the squacco heron, the little bittern, etc.This is the area where the wood warbler and the icterine warbler reach their most southern destination, while for the Bonelli’s warbler and the melodious warbler it is the most northern one. In order to watch these birds in all quietness, you will find multiple bird observation huts in the region. The newest one is even just down our street, next to the lake ‘Etang Purais’.
The Brenne hosts one of the most important populations of the European pond turtle in France. You can find 62 different species of dragonflies here, about half of the amount of species in the whole France, in addition to 10 species of reptiles, 14 species of amphibians, and more than 100 different species of butterflies. About 100 plant species you can discover there are protected, amongst which the Brenne orchis (Dactylorhizza Brennensis).
The Brenne consists of small villages and hamlets, scattered over the region and connected by a large network of small and picturesque routes with very little traffic.
In the south you find two rivers: the Anglin and the Creuse. This area is rather hilly and wooded, and is an absolute recommendation for sport fishermen, canoeists, rock climbers and mountain bikers.
The heavy clay soil being difficult to cultivate, the main activities are concentrated around fishery and stock farming.
Regional products are honey (you can visit the honey house (maison des Abeilles in Ingrandes), lamb and an AOC certified goat cheese (Pouligny).
The Regional National Park indulges its visitors with plenty of clearly marked hiking and biking trails. The ‘Maison du Parc’ in the hamlet Le Bouchet in Rosnay distributes brochures with clear information about the nature, patrimony, sport and cultural activities. A little shop offers regional products, a small movie theatre and an exhibition area. This nicely renovated farm also hosts a restaurant with tasty salads on the menu, a recommendation for lunch. Outside you will find a place to picnic and the start of a hiking trail. In the ‘Maison de la Nature’ you can get information about the observations in the region. There are also several observation huts and a permanent exhibition about the whiskered tern. Don’t forget to bring your binoculars!
If you wish to do canoeing on the Creus and the Anglin, you can contact the 'Canoë Kayak Club Le Blanc' .
Cyclists: mountain bikes and bicycles are an ideal way to discover the region at your pace. . You can rent bicycles via the Tourist Office of Mézières en Brenne.
If you really want to take things at a gentle pace, you can go back in time by making a trip with a donkey and experience how travelling happened centuries ago, at a much slower pace. On the rhythm of the animal you will discover the Brenne more intensively in all its aspects: lakes, forest and meadows. It is a must for families with children.
Sightseeing trips by bike or by car, close to B(renne) & B(erry):
Azay-le-Ferron: castle visit, beautiful park, vegetable and herb gardens.
Angles sur l'Anglin: picturesque medieval town at 16 miles from our B&B.
Abbye Notre Dame de Fontgombault: abbey where you can go listen to the psalms and hymns of the monks on Sunday morning.
La-Roche-Posay: most important French health resort with thermal baths, specialized in the treatment of skin diseases. In this town, the cosmetics company with the same name is located. There is a broad range of treatments under professional guidance.
Gargilesse: picturesque artistic town, in the valley of the Creuse and close to the Eguzon lake. George Sand loved this town, considered one of the most beautiful towns in France. The author owned a small house here, the ‘villa Algira’, where she used to take a rest. Cross the doorstep and enter to discover the personality of this wonderful woman.
Richelieu: is a town that was built from scratch for the famous cardinal. Coming from the surrounding fields, you enter suddenly in a well-thought town structure. Similar to a French closed garden, but then with squares, streets, houses and an immense park.
In the wider surroundings you can discover even more:
Loches: The elegant castle Loches rises high above the valley of the Indre. You need to cross the gate before this royal city discloses itself. The attractive royal house is still in token of Agnès Sorel. She was the mistress of Charles VII and people used to call her ‘pure lady’. She was the first official mistress of a king of France. The urn containing her ashes, found in 2005, rests in the chapter church St-Ours, near the castle. Follow the cobblestone streets to the tower. Built by Foulques Nerra in the 11th century, it became the royal prison during the reign of Luis XI. Cardinal La Balue and Ludovic Sforza were held captive here. The boldest amongst you can climb the 36 meters to the top and enjoy a unique panorama on Loches and its surroundings.
Valençay: The castle with its white facades of peat chalk and roofs covered with schist predominates the city and has been the property of the prince of Talleyrand. If you love Empire style, you will appreciate a visit to the remarkably furnished and decorated foyers and apartments.
Nohant: House of George Sand: author and mistress of Fréderic Chopin. To rediscover the rural atmosphere of her novels, go in the direction of Nohant. In this house, which she loved so much, the hero’s of ‘The devil’s pond’, ‘Little Fadette’, or ‘François le Champi’ were born. The rooms in this house still contain memories of prestigious hosts. Important personalities from romanticism like Flaubert, Liszt, Chopin, Delacrois, Balzac, Tourgueniev, Dumas... they all spent some time here, invited by George Sand. Very devoted to her home and the valley Noire, the ‘good lady of Nohant’ rests in a small family graveyard close to her house.
Oradour-sur-Glane, Centre de la Mémoire: town in the Limousin , completely burned down on the 10th of June 1944 by the 2.SS Panzer Division Das Reich on their way to the invasion coasts in Normandy.
Bourges: Cathédrale Saint-Étienne
Neuvy-Saint-Sépulcre: Basilique Saint-Étienne: Unesco World Heritage
Fontevraud: Royal Abbye
Orléans: City of Jeanne d'Arc
Saint-Valentin: Village of the Lovers
Castles in the Sologne and along the Loire and the Cher ao in Blois, Chenonceaux (water castle Chenonceau built over the river Cher), Cheverny (castle of Tintin, known for its kennel for hunting dogs), Chambord (Unesco World Heritage), Villandry, Amboise, Azay-le-Rideau and Chaumont-sur-Loire.
For the golf lovers:
Golf club du val de l'Indre Parc du Château 36320 Villedieu sur Indre Tél: 0254 265 944 Fax: 0254 260 637
Golf club les Dryades Hôtel des Dryades 36160 Pouligny Notre Dame Tél: 0254 066 067 Fax: 0254 301 024
Golf des Sarrays Les Sarrays Sainte Fauste 36100 Issoudun Tél: 0254 495 449 Fax: 0254 495 037