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Morvan to the Loire
France > Burgundy > Morvan

Landscape of Morvan : Click to enlarge picture
The Morvan region lies smack in the middle of Burgundy between the valleys of the Loire and the Saône, stretching roughly from Clamecy, Vézelay and Avallon in the north to Autun and Le Creusot in the south. It's a land of wooded hills, close and rounded rather than mountainous, although they rise to 900m above Autun. With poor soil and pastures only good for a few cattle, villages and farms are few and far between. In the old days wood was the main business – supplying firewood and charcoal to Paris – and large tracts of hillside are now covered in coniferous plantations. But the region's chief export has been its escaping young. It earned a reputation as one of the poorest and most backward regions in the country, with few resources to trade on and little inspiration for outside investment.

In fine weather it's a lush and verdant home to all manner of foliage, flora and wild animals; in foul weather it's damp, muddy, lonely and rather depressing. The creation of a parc naturel régional in 1970 did something to promote the area as a place for outdoor activities and refuge from commuterdom, but more than anything it was the election of François Mitterrand, local politician and mayor of Château-Chinon for years, as president of the Republic that rescued the Morvan from oblivion. In addition to lending it some of the glamour of his office, he took concrete steps to beef up the local economy. Plentiful local information can be found online at

West of the Morvan, the landscape softens as it descends towards the River Loire and the fine medieval town of Nevers, on Burgundy's western border.

Pages in section ‘Morvan’: Avallon, Vézelay, Clamecy, Saulieu, Parc du Morvan, Autun, Mont-Beuvray and Bibracte, Le Creusot, Nevers.

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