LAC DU DER AND THE SURROUNDING AREA
Here, water reigns supreme... A landscape characteristic of the humid Champagne region, the bocage (farmland criss-crossed by hedges and trees) reveals a copious natural environment to be explored all around the Der-Chantecoq lake.
THE LAC DU DER, AN INLAND SEA
The Champaubert reservoir was created in 1938 to protect Paris from the Seine's seasonal upheavals, then in 1974 the Lac du Der Chantecoq was created on a site especially chosen for its impermeable layer of clay.
Over six years, millions of metres cubed of clay, rocks, and concrete were carted... No less than 14 bridges, 25 km of road and 24 km of dykes were built for it. The villages of Nuisement, Champaubert, and Chantecoq, and a section of the Der forest were even swallowed up by necessity, and some buildings from these villages were then rebuilt on the site of the Musée du Pays du Der.
Only the Champaubert church, at the end of the beach, remains as a reminder that water wasn’t always the main feature of this area!
THE LAC DU DER, A NATURAL ESCAPE
With its 4,800 hectares and 77 km of banks, this artificial lake, one of the biggest in Europe, gives the landscape a feeling of summer holidays!
The ideal spot for open-air sports and leisure, here you can enjoy yourself in the water, at the beach, and indulge in water activities. In any season you can enjoy long bike rides on the banks or the hiking trails in an enchanting setting that will absolutely delight nature lovers...
TOURIST TRAIL OF TIMBER-FRAMED CHAMPAGNE REGION CHURCHES
Timber-framed churches are rare. The only collection of them in France, dating from the 16th and 17th centuries, are to be found in the Der. The choice to build with wood reflects the constraints of time and money in that era: they were built according to the same principles as barns and halls, mainly using oak. The fragility of the materials explain why they have been restored and today have a lovely appearance.
In the great lakes region of Champagne there is a unique ensemble of religious buildings in France: ten churches and a chapel built entirely of timber frames between the end of the 15th and the 18th centuries.
Taking the Champagne paths bordered by ponds and lakes, forests and prairies, this route will lead you to villages and their churches, and to some out of the ordinary architecture!
DID YOU KNOW?
Etymologically, the term “Der” comes from a word meaning oak!
Nearby, Vitry-le-François, capital of the Perthois region, will delight you with its delectable sights to explore. Its majestic collegiate church, Notre Dame de l’Assomption, listed as a Historic Monument, is the biggest religious building in the classical style in the Marne department.
A water town and a focus of boat activity, you can stroll along the canals or the river Marne on foot or take a bike ride with friends or family.
THE COTEAUX DE VITRY
To conclude a trip through its lake and rivers on a sparkling note, the territory also offers a route through the vineyards and hillsides...
Leaving from Vitry, this Route Touristique du Champagne trail offers a new way into the Champagne vineyards for visitors staying around Vitry-le-François and the Lac du Der.
About 60 km long, it follows small roads over hills, mountains, and plains, exploring twenty or so villages with architecture characteristic of the Champagne bocage (farmland criss-crossed by hedges and trees).
THE WELL-NAMED TROIS-FONTAINES
The Trois-Fontaines Abbey, long ago radiant and prosperous, was founded by Saint Bernard de Clairvaux. The 12th century ruins of the abbey remain but also the monumental gate built in the 18th century by the Cardinal de Teucin, the then owner of the properties.
The park, designed by a student from Le Nôtre, is accessible all year round and is ideal for a walk through the rare species of trees with statues dotted here and there... The Abbey also houses a bicycle museum.
Why is it called Trois-Fontaines? Because the Cistercian monks, before settling here in 1118, had to drain the wetlands formed by the overflow of the Bruxenelle, a small waterway fed by three springs...
Au bonheur des dames grises... (TO THE GREY LADIES’ HAPPINESS)...
Throughout the year, there are about 300 species of birds to be seen in their many environments on the Der. Among them there are the grey cranes, the most sought-after by passionate bird-watchers.
From October to March, around 60,000 to 140,000 “grey ladies” will make a salutary halt on the lake. Fleeing the north when it starts to get cold, they will end up in Tunisia or at the southern tip of Spain, in the Gallocanta Laguna, which is translated as: Chantecoq!
They put on an extraordinary show when they leave their “bunk house” on flapping wings while screeching!
SELECTION OF GETAWAYS
Some suggestions for tours to explore the Lac du Der and the surrounding area, for a short walk or a long stay!
Village Musée du Der
A small village of authentic rebuilt timber-frame houses helps you explore the incredible history of the lake's creation and the three...
Collégiale Notre Dame de Vitry-le-François
The biggest classic church of the Marne (XVIIè-XIIIè centuries). This ancient memorial shelters a real museum by significant number of...
Le Train du Der
How about a train ride around the Lac du Der? The train starts and finishes at the Station Nautique. On this one-hour round trip, you will...
Porte du Pont de Vitry-le-François
At the time when it still stood at the entrance to Vitry-le-François, the Porte du Pont saw all the European aristocracy file by: Stanslas...
Abbaye de Trois-Fontaines
Route des églises à pans de bois de Champagne
Wooden churches are very unusual. The only ones found in France are in Champagne. The choice of building in wood was due to the time and...