A remarkable state forest heritage!
In September 2016, the three state forests in the Montagne de Reims (Chêne à la Vierge, Hautvillers, and Faux de Verzy) obtained the Forêts d'Exception® (Exceptional Forests) label.
This distinction from the National Forests Office recognises a concerted and exemplary approach undertaken by 35 local participants for implementing actions aimed at preserving and promoting the remarkable forest heritage.
Since 2008, seventeen forests have been chosen among the stare-run forests operated by the NFO. They are committed to offering an adapted and sustainable service that the public can enjoy: landscape appeal, warm welcomes, education about nature, and a place for rejuvenation!
Chêne à la vierge
The Chêne à la Vierge (virgin oak) forest comes from the merging of two state-run forests: the Chêne la Vierge in the east and Sermiers in the west. It owes its name to a legend from the Middle Ages, when woodsmen supposedly found a statuette of the Virgin Mary in the heart of a tree... This “miracle” is the end point of an annual pilgrimage, the third Sunday of September.
To the north-west, you can explore the Noëlle area with its lovely botanical trail, complemented by a walk to discover six of the remarkable trees in the Montagne de Reims massif.
The Forest of Verzy is full of beeches with twisted branches and trunks whose origin remains a mystery. They are commonly called “turtle beeches” or Faux de Verzy.
Over 57 hectares, the ecological reserve of Verzy welcomes visitors to a site unique in the world with more than 800 individual specimens.
A trail with the Tourisme & Handicap label allows walkers to explore these stunning trees along a trail that takes around two hours within this protected space.
You can also explore the site using the application "En forêt de Verzy", available for free from the AppStore and GooglePlay. A fun educational tool that broadcasts all along the walk: archives, old postcards, interviews, etc. You’ll find out nearly everything about these mysterious trees!
The historic vineyards of Hautvillers are listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites as part of the Champagne Hillsides, Houses and Cellars. Its 408 hectare state-run forest, a veritable promontory overlooking the Champagne vineyards, plays a pivotal role in the landscape which must be preserved and safeguarded over time.
Made up mostly of sessile oak (63%), it is entirely located in the Montagne de Reims Regional Natural Park. Explore it with the following walks: