Do you know one of the main reasons people want to move here? The nature of Livradois-Forez attracts them. In the massif of Forez and that of Livradois, it is present everywhere. It invites you to experience disconnection and calm, in full observation of its wonders. Here is a selection of the must-see sites in Livradois-Forez, Regional natural park in Auvergne.

The massif of Forez and that of Livradois are rich in a grandiose natural heritage. Every day, they offer the chance to observe nature from their office window, sitting on a sunny terrace or during a walk. They are also home to very characteristic environments: peat bogs, rocky gorges, ponds, forest massifs, high plateaus and alluvial valleys. They are mostly visible on the axis Thiers, Ambert et The Chaise-Dieu and daily offer the feeling of living in the middle of nature.

We have therefore brought together the five sites where the nature of Livradois-Forez is the most remarkable. The Hautes-Chaumes on the Forez mountains, the county forest at the foot of the Livradois, Ground floor North, Mount Bar to the south, and finally the Bec de Dore where two Livradois-Forez rivers merge into each other.

These are as many experiences to live in the nature of Livradois-Forez.

1. The Hautes-Chaumes of the Forez massif

Landes of Hautes-Chaumes. Livradois-Forez.

To begin this journey through the landscapes of our territory, we invite you to the Hautes-Chaumes of the Forez massif. At 1 meters above sea level, at the top of the Forez mountain range, this listed natural site Nature 2000 is an ecological treasure. Fauna and flora are distinguished by their specificities.

Only twenty minutes from Ambert, the Hautes-Chaumes offer a rare sight on French soil. In effect, an air of Norwegian tundra, Mongolian steppe, emanates from these raw landscapes. With its 8 hectares of moorland, dotted with small deep green groves and delicate peat bogs, these bare peaks, leveled by the wind, offer a special atmosphere. A special place in the nature of Livradois-Forez.

A robust although fragile high-altitude ecosystem in the Forez massif

If you pay attention, you will notice that many small animals and high-altitude plants have taken up residence on these Hautes-Chaumes. The birds are numerous there, like the spionelle pipit ou the lark. You can also see the majestic royal milan and buses et buzzards. the adorable amphibious vole also likes this preserved space. Just like the alpine miramelle, this little cricket without wings but with a beautiful fluorescent green and red dress. Or the famous satyrion of the Forez massif, a butterfly that you only meet on the Hautes-Chaumes. As for the flora, you may recognize some of the altitude plants: the alpine clover, lady's mantle of the rocks, cowberry or european troll.

Meadows of Hautes-Chaumes. Livradois-Forez

2. The Shire Forest

The Livradois-Forez is one of the most wooded regions of France. And the county forest, near Saint-Julien-de-Coppel, is one of the most beautiful forests in this natural park in Auvergne. The County… Its name is reminiscent of the famous imaginary land of the British writer JRR Tolkien. Except that it really exists, in another middle earth, in the Massif Central.

Because the forest of the County extends over an area of ​​1500 hectares, at the foot of the Livradois mountains. Also recognized as a sensitive natural space, it is home to astonishing natural resources. Comfortably installed on the oldest volcanic group in Europe, it is thus shaped by a few peaks and puys. A special atmosphere seizes you when you enter under the trees. You are in the kingdom of oaks.

Path in the forest of the Shire. Livradois-Forez.

Discover the largest oak grove in the plains of Auvergne

This elegant oak grove, the largest of the Auvergne plains, is home to fairly clear undergrowth, with abundant and flourishing vegetation. At the turn of the walks, you then recognize the honeysuckle, hawkweed, small orchids, the meadow cow-wheat or againwood anemone. With a bit of luck, you will see one of the four protected species: the knotty geranium, martagon lily, thesuperb carnation, thepasque flower or the red cephaloptera. In spring especially, these flowers transform the edges of the paths. The latter are also marked with great precision to promote the preservation of flora and fauna. This corner of nature in the heart of Livradois-Forez is certainly worth the detour.

The forest is also home to some beautiful mammals including roe deer, badger, wild boar and fox. A very pretty bat, the Daubenton bat, comes out of hiding at nightfall. Just like the spotted salamander and the yellow-bellied ringer, two rare and threatened species in France. One is all black, with yellow spots all over the body. The other has heart-shaped eyes and yellow spots on its stomach. Therefore, it is obviously not recommended to touch them if you are lucky enough to see them.

3. Le Bec de Dore, a sensitive natural area full of water

A pair of European bee-eaters.

Located at the confluence of the Dore and Allier rivers, the Bec de Dore is an alluvial forest rich in biodiversity. A real paradise for naturalists! Classified as a Sensitive Natural Area (ENS), it is home to 37 species of birds, nearly 100 species of insects, 32 species of mammals and 344 species of plants. Its rivers, wild and lively, constantly shape the landscape. The beaches are thus regularly remodeled, the banks sometimes laid bare. Ponds hide under the trees. And the meadows here are wet and bright green. Nevertheless, the site is hardly suitable for public reception, except on the developed banks at Ris and Limon.

In the midst of the birds, the preservation of the site bears fruit

The Bec de Dore is indeed an alluvial forest with a beautiful biodiversity : 37 species of birds have been identified, nearly 100 species of insects, 32 species of mammals and 344 species of plants. The small plovers, guignette knights and white wagtails nest on beaches. You can also see the superb European bee-eater and golden oriole. The otter and the beaver have also returned to settle on the Bec de Dore rivers. After several decades of absence for one, and several centuries for the other.

4. Mont Bar, a volcano that hides a peat bog

Mont Bar in Allègre. Livradois-Forez.

In the municipality ofblithe, Mont Bar is a natural curiosity. He is to this day the only European volcano of the Strombolian type to present a peat bog in its crater. This ancient lake today forms a natural setting of singular beauty. Surrounded by white fir trees, beeches and spruces, the site (classified Natura 2000) is a sanctuary for many species of birds. The peat bog contains an important aquatic flora, in particular sphagnum and sundew. And no less than eleven species of dragonflies! A path from Allègre takes you from the foot of the volcano to the bog

Walk through a site very popular with birds and small mammals

This volcano and this bog form a small paradise for birds. The elegant crested tit as well as his cousin coal tit settle in conifers. You see the holes left in the trunks by the black woodpecker. He's looking for wood-eating insects. With any luck, you will also see the pretty crested wren, a softwood familiar. Or even the crossbill, this bird inhabiting these forests and fond of pine seeds. Among mammals, roe deer regularly leave traces under the beeches, as does the badger and fox. Of squirrels can be seen too, as well as the marten pines with a beautiful dark brown coat.

pine marten

5. The ground floor or the dragon stone: a magical universe

To end this selection, we will mention an amazing geological phenomenon. In the Bois Noirs massif, the Ground floor is a long natural vein of quartz, the largest in the Massif Central. Cleared by erosion many years ago, this wonder of nature in Livradois-Forez stretches over a kilometer and is only a few meters wide. Thus, with its cockscomb shape, the Rez-de-Sol peaks at 943 meters above sea level.

Up there, the panorama is spectacular. From this beautiful promontory, you enjoy a bird's eye view of the rural landscape of Lachaux, as well as the poetic Credogne valley. In the distance, you can also see the Puy de Dôme, the Chaîne des Puys and the south of the Allier department.

Finally, it is said that a dragon had taken up residence on this ridge. It devoured, it was said, humans. Only young girls. Finally, it seems. And you, what does this beautiful rocky ridge inspire in you?

Ground floor in Lachaux. Natural curiosity Livradois-Forez