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Time seems to stand still in the Perche Regional Natural Park, and the good life is what it’s all about! There are many activities on offer including discovery tours of the various environmental initiatives in place to secure the park’s future. Walking and cycling in the forest are also a great way to explore the area.
A GREEN GETAWAY
The name ‘Perche’ derives from the Indo-European word ‘Perk’, and that from the Latin word ‘Pertica’ which refers to large trees.
Established in 1998, the Perche Regional Natural Park covers over 1,800km² around Mortagne au Perche, Bellême and Nogent le Rotrou. With its striking relief, the Perche is recognisable for its typical landscape features: upland forests, bocage hillsides planted with hedges and orchards, and valleys featuring wet meadows. The landscape is strewn with manor houses, chateaux, churches and country houses; the wide range of quality materials used to construct them has left an extensive palette of colours.
The Perche is characterised by a succession of gentle hills and remarkable beech and oak trees forests, around Bellême and in the Réno Valdieu massif. There are 493 plant species, 75 species of birds inventoried and more than 1,100 species of mushrooms. Here, traditions are very much alive, like the filet brodé in the thousand-year-old village of La Perrière and the famous black pudding of Mortagne.
One of the ways to see the Perche is on a Percheron, the park’s native horse! Enjoy a ride in a horse-drawn carriage to discover the forest and its 75 species of bird at a leisurely pace. Over hill and down dale, enjoy picturesque villages, stately manors, the traditional bocage (hedgerow) landscape, before heading back to the farm, where the horse breeders will explain to you how they care for this most famous of all French workhorses. Share in their passion for the Percheron and discover the new ways in which these horses are helping the environment and agriculture.
GENEROUS BY NATURE
Come spring, the meadows of the Perche will be bursting into blossom, a view well worth enjoying over a fruit cocktail bearing the sweet name filtre d’amour (love potion). Nature lovers will find plenty to do in all seasons, whether it’s a ramble in the fields, gardening classes, cycling in the forest, helping with the apple harvest or antiques shopping!
A history lesson at the MAISON De Courboyer
Top of your visit to the Perche by learning all about how the regional natural park came to be at the Manoir de Courboyer, a 15th-century manor house and listed historic monument set in 160 acres of beautiful countryside. Why not soak up some history inside the manor house before following the signposted walking trail around the grounds, finishing up with a refreshing drink and some local farm products at the on-site cafe?
Parc Naturel Régional du Perche
Maison de Courboyer, 61340 Nocé
+33 (0)2 33 85 36 36
- Alençon: Capital of the Orne département, Alençon is world-famous for its UNESCO-listed lace-making.
- The Haras du Pin National Stud, nicknamed ‘Versailles for horses’