In the heart of the Grand Est region, in the department of Aube, the Orient Forest Regional Nature Park covers an expanse of 82,000 hectares, divided into different areas: the humid Champagne region dotted with ponds, hedged farmland and forests, chalky Champagne with its rolling hills, the Aube Valley, and the three major lakes of the Orient Forest. The latter make up the third biggest aquatic nature reserve in France and attract a myriad of birds, to the delight of all visiting ornithologists. With your hiking boots on, set off to discover this wild and unspoilt land, and admire the local fauna and flora.
Start by heading for the Fontaine aux Oiseaux embankment, an incredible wetland where frogs, newts and salamanders, along with black storks, live at the heart of the Orient Forest amid majestic willows that glisten in the sun.
Continue your adventure deep in the Champagne countryside to discover the vast forested areas of the Étoile Wood, which was once used for hunting with hounds. The paths that were originally cleared for hunters are now ideal for a ramble among the trees, which form an immense canopy of greenery. Along the way, you will see a wide range of plant species covering the ground: angelica, meadowsweet, nettles and many others make up the abundant flora of the Orient Forest Regional Nature Park. In the summer period, be sure to visit the sandy shores of Lake Orient, including the Blue Flag-certified beaches of Mesnil-Saint-Père and Géraudot. The water, turquoise and azure at the same time, has an Atlantic look about it, surrounded by wild greenery.
If you are on a family holiday in this major park in Aube, make sure you visit Nigloland, one of France's biggest amusement parks in the heart of the forest. Formerly a circus in the Roaring Twenties, it has swapped its old fairground attractions for mechanical rides that draw visitors from all over France.
The marshes of the Orient Forest are another must-see. They are home to plants specific to the local area, with water mint, gypsywort and iris giving off amazing scents. The Konik Polski, horses brought specifically to the area to graze the pastures, regularly roam in the vicinity and are recognisable by their coat with stripes, characteristic of ancestral horses.
Needless to say, the Orient Forest Regional Nature Park is the place for nature-lovers!