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The Mervent Forest
Forest, Officially known as The Mountain forest of Mervent-Vouvant is
situated on the foothills of the Armorican Massif. It is, just 12
kilometres north of Fontenay le Comte
and is the largest forest in the Vendée. Crowning a string of hills the
forest consists of over 5000 hectares of mainly beech trees (hêtres),
oak trees (chênes) and sweet chestnut trees (frênes), it is both
publicly and privately owned, and is a haven of tranquillity for both
people and wildlife alike. The forest has been laid out with over 200
kilometres of well marked footpaths and offers some of the best walks to
be found anywhere in the Vendée. The local tourist office has plans of
all of these walks together with distances and their degree of
difficulty. There are also trails marked out for mountain biking and
horse riding. The forest rises steeply from the banks of the lakes and
affords stunning views and in several places you can get dramatic
panoramic views over the canopy of trees to the lakes and the river
below. This belies the description of this area as a small hilltop
forest barely 10 miles across perched on top of a granite plateau.
Amongst the deep tree lined ravines and wide clearings Pink Asphodel and
Yellow Broom proliferate, and under the trees as one would expect the
ground contains an abundance of the types of edible fungi that are so
highly prized by the local gourmets. The lakes contain a profusion of
Perch, Pike, Carp and Eels and fishermen are plentiful. The lakes also
contain the normal amphibians including edible frogs, which are now
illegal to catch and kill. The forest is home to a wide variety of birds
including Black Kites, Kingfishers, the extremely rare Short Toed Eagle
and two rare varieties of Magpie. Among the many mammals both Deer and
wild Boar can be found and during the season there is a vibrant hunting
Two rivers the Mère and the Vendée
flow through the forest and have been dammed in four places to form
lakes containing 14,000,000 cubic metres of water. The upper dam or
barrage is just below Vouvant
on the river Mère and controls the water level around this very pretty
village, the river then meanders on through the forest until it reaches
the barrage at Pierre Brune. Just below this barrage is the Fun park of Pierre Brune one
of the many attractions in the forest, from here the river flows south
through the forest and passes under the bridge in the village of
Mervent. The lake is at its widest here and supports a beach where you
can swim and a nautical centre
where you can hire sail boats, canoes, kayaks and electric boats.
Bicycles can also be hired here. Probably the best vantage point to see
the panoramic of the forest and lake is from the village hall in Mervent
standing on the last remains of the castle de Mervent and looking out
across the forest towards the confluence of the two rivers the Mère and
the Vendée. From here the River Vendée flows on for a further 3
kilometres until it arrives at the Barrage de Mervent.
Le Barrage de Mervent, the main dam in the lake complex, is 145 metres
long, 26.5 metres high and commenced operation in 1956. It provides
drinking water for Fontenay Le Comte and the local area, generates
electricity and regulates the flow of the river Vendée as it makes its
way through the marshland preventing flooding in the low lying areas. On
the road just above Le Barrage de Mervent is the Park Zoological de Mervent, within its 5 hectares of grounds there are over five hundred animals and
a cactus collection. Although small it is very popular with families as
they have a small petting farm where the children are introduced to the
The Mervent forest is one of the jewels of the Vendée and no matter what
time of the year you visit it will always have treasures to reveal. It
has some great restaurants and these can be viewed on our restaurants in the Mervent area, many of them reviewed by "Tate" our resident Critique Gastronomique.
Other activities within the Mervent forest.
The Parc d'acrobaties. 34 Chemin du Chene Tord. 70 games and activities up in the trees with 4 courses of varying difficulty to find your limits, test your courage and agility.
La Jamoniere Ecomuseum and pond.
The Grande Perrure. Teaching farm and retro park.
Rock climbing at Pierre Blanche. Though mainly for beginners, experienced climbers also use this area for experimenting.
Every year (25th-26th June 2011) this sporting event attracts teams of
3, who compete in 7 events, namely mountain-biking, bike and run,
canoeing, archery, orienteering, abseiling, and shooting all of which takes place throughout the forest.
Bike Hire;Damvix.Equestrian Centre, 2,La Maison des Champs. Tel. 06 80 45 69 98.
Maillezais: Embarcadere de l'Abbaye. Le Grand Port. Tel. 02 51 87 21 87
Le Mazeau: Le Port. Tel. 02 51 52 90 73.
Mervent: Base Nautique. Le Vallee. Tel. 02 51 00 22 13.
Horse Riding; St Maurice des Noues and Vouvant. La Garreliere.
Bruno & Beatrice Ripaud Tel 02 51 00 81 55. www.ripaud-equitation.com
Return to find more attractions in the Vendée