Nature/Bird Watching/Eco-tourism at the Chateau


The Woods of Paris

Around Paris central, parks are relatively rare and scattered. The outer metropolitan area to the south east around the chateau has the biggest concentration of parks with an area of 1,200+ hectares within 20klms. of the city. The chateau has 60ha, La grange forest has 200+, Notre Dame has about 500ha and Senart is a similar size.

If you want to see more wildlife, a first option is to head to the two main parks located on Paris grounds: the Boulogne and Vincennes Woods. These two massive green areas located on the extreme West and East (respectively) of the French Capital cover a cumulated area representing about 18% of the city’s total area. Created under Napoleon III during Haussmann’s great transformations, in a time when English gardens were fashionable, both parks are composed of large areas of simulated wilderness.

France’s rolling countryside, its spellbinding landscapes and slower pace of life have always held a near magnetic attraction for tourists in search of authenticity.

In the North-West, the Vexin Français Regional Park covers an area seven times the size of Paris. Four major ecosystems coexist in this park: humid (marshlands and riversides), forest, limestone hills, and alluvial terraces. The Vexin area is a great week-end getaway, and a good stop to do if you plan to continue your trip towards Normandy.

If you plan on spending a few days in the Versailles area, make sure to head South of Versailles into the Haute Vallée de Chevreuse Regional Park. Mostly composed of plains or small plateaus, the land is partly covered by the Rambouillet Forest and is a great getaway for having a natural break. Forest wildlife is quite common. One major advantage of this park is the prevalence of cultural sites to visit, since many historic sites, and in particular castles, are located on its grounds.

In the South-East, the Gâtinais Français Regional Park is a large park mostly covered by forest. The sand and sandstone underground sometimes emerges from the soil creating mystical unusual landscapes.

In the North, the Chantilly area has a large green space known as Oise-Pays de France Regional Park, mostly covered by forest, and allowing visitors to see about three-quarters of all species living in the Paris and Ile-de-France area.

In all these parks, you may expect to see a lot of wild animals, mostly forest mammals such as deer's, stags, boars, or rodents. Numerous birds and insects also live in these ecosystems. Amphibians and reptiles are rarer but can be seen.

The Orléans Forest at 50,000 ha, is the biggest natural forest in France. It’s home to many species of bird including osprey and various species of eagle, buzzards, woodpeckers, nightingale and larks. But it’s also a great place to see larger animals, such as wild boar and even wild cats. The forest is located 130klms. from the chateau in the eastern Loire Valley.

The chateau has 60 hectares to explore as well as the 700ha La Grange and Notre Dame Forests in close proximity and the 3,000+ha. Senart forest is 6.6klms. away.

Ile de France Region

With a terrain which combines plains and plateaus, gorges and valleys and even a few mountains, the Ile-de-France region offers a varied landscape which encourages animal species to flourish.

The region is currently home to some 6,600 varieties of animal, insects being the predominate species at 5,600. The forest of Fontainebleau is home to ten or so wild cats.

It is also mainly in the forests that badgers, roe deer, wild boar, foxes, red deer (the most common in Europe), hares, stone martens and pine martens, which all fall into the mammal category, are observed. Ornithologists will be pleased to know that there is also a great variety of bird species. You may even be able to catch the Eurasian sparrow hawk, the honey buzzard, the common buzzard, the goshawk (a diurnal bird of prey, the only species living in Europe), the hobby (small falcon), the long-eared owl, the tawny owl, the grey-headed woodpecker, the black woodpecker or the nightingale....through the lens of your binoculars or your camera. It is also worth noting the presence of various species of bat such as the lesser noctule, the lesser mouse-eared bat, Bechstein's bat or, the smallest of them all, measuring just four centimetres, the Kuhl's pipistrelle. Add in a few snakes (the natrix Maura, the venomous vipera aspis and the ringneck) and butterflies (the gonepteryx, the peacock butterfly, the Painted Lady and, the largest in Europe, measuring around 3 and a half inches, the swallowtail) and you've got a pretty full zoo.

Roe Deer

Some of the beauties you may find.

Peregrine Falcon


Swallowtail Butterfly

Some of the flora and fauna to be found in the Ile de France parks.

Pyramid Orchid

Early Purple Orchid

Lady Orchid

Purple Spotted Orchid

European Tongue Orchid

Superb Lizard Orchid

Loose Flowered Orchid

Marsh Orchid

Fly Orchid

Argentine Vipers

Tassle Hyacinth

Autumn Squill

Cleopatra Butterfly

Common Blue Butterfly

False Ringlet Butterfly


Southern White Admiral

Queen of Spain Fritillary


Common Firecrest

Eurasian Blue Tit


Eurasian Robin

Crested Tit

Spotted Flycatcher

Europe Bluethroat

White Wagtail

Winter Wallcreeper

Great Tit


Red Backed Shrike

Eurasian Bullfinch

Eurasian Wren



Common Cuckoo

Middle Spotted Woodpecker

Blue Rock Thrush

European Nightjar

European Roller

Black Woodpecker

Green Woodpecker

Great Spotted Woodpecker

Rosy Starling

Common Kingfisher

European Bee-Eater

Red Legged Partridg

Common Pheasant

Northern Hazel Grouse


Black Winged Stilt

Glossy Ibis

European Oystercatcher

Grey Heron

Barn Owl


Black Shouldered Kite

Eurasian Scops Owl

Eurasian Kestrel

Eurasian Sparrow Hawk

Little Owl

Northern Goshawk

Eurasian Eagle Owl


Common Hedgehog

Eurasian Red Squirrel

European Fat Doormouse

European Garden Doormuse

European Badger

European Pine Marten


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