Beauty and Tranquility at Nature Reserves in France
In 2012 France was officially listed as the most popular tourist destination in the world, with up to 83 million foreign tourists visiting its many historical, cultural and natural attractions. In addition to its many cultural treasures, such as the magnificent Palace of Versailles, Mont Saint-Michel, the Château de Chambord and the iconic Eiffel Tower, France boasts an impressive selection of reserves and conservation areas, where both local and international visitors can take time out to enjoy nature at its best in this fascinating part of Europe.
Located in a transition zone between semi-continental and oceanic climates in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region of northern France, the Carrière de Nerviens Regional Nature Reserve is home to fifteen species of plants considered to be of regional interest which are supported by the reserve's extraordinary climate and terrain. The geology of the area consists of sandstone which was backfilled with marl in the 1970s and has since been re-colonized by plant species which are under protection, including pyramidal orchids, bee orchids, liquorice milkvetch, zigzag clover, and wood forget-me-not. The reserve is also home to as many as 115 species of mushrooms, some of which look as though they should be under the sea, such as the golden spindle mushroom which resembles a sea anemone. Mammals found in the reserve include red squirrel, red fox, hare, mole, rabbit, wood mouse and field vole. Northern goshawk, Eurasian sparrowhawk and common grasshopper warbler are among the birds that visitors to the Carrière de Nerviens Regional Nature Reserve may be fortunate enough to spot.
Dominated by a glacier-formed rocky hill, the Roc de Chère National Nature Reserve in southeastern France has been a protect area since 1977. The unusual composition of the soils in the reserve has resulted in a number of separate microclimates in the valleys, which sustain over 560 species of plants. Moreover, ancient glacial activity has left a peat bog in the reserve, which is unusual for this region of Europe. Keen birders can keep an eye out for peregrine falcons, Eurasian crag martins, yellow-legged gulls and black kites.
Other nature reserves in France include Aiguilles Rouges National Nature Reserve, Delta de la Dranse National Nature Reserve, La Trinité National Nature Reserve, Petite Terre Islands, Passy National Nature Reserve and Sagnes de la Godivelle National Nature Reserve.