On contact with the Berry and Bourbonnais, the Tronçais forest, spreads its some 10,000 hectares of oak that make this green wonder in Bourbonnais, the largest oak forest in Europe, a cool oasis in the shadow of its oaks more as venerable. It is very pleasant in this world of green, to go "round" in "round" in search of Viljot fountain, chapel of St. Mayeul, forges of Tronçais, the line or the Genoese the Colbert grove, enjoying, as the sun's path, changing lights, under the foliage of large trees, some of which have names: the Resistance oak, oak Stebling...
The Tronçais forest, after being administered by the Dukes of Bourbon, was confiscated in 1527 with the other lands of the Constable. Poorly supervised, neglected the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, it undergoes slow degradation. Uncontrolled felling of trees was that three-quarters of the forest were ruined. To meet current and future needs of the marine timber countries, Colbert began to replant and protect the royal forest oaks. These new series were appointed only be performed after the age of 200 years. In 1788 the opening of the Forges of Tronçais led to a further destruction of the forest and its return to the grove thicket in state for two thirds of its surface for the production of coal required for the manufacture of cast iron. In 1832, conservative measures were taken and the forest was again converted in full high forest, exploitable at the age of 160 years. That age was raised to 180, then 225 years in 1928.
The Tronçais forest is cut in the playoffs, they themselves divided into plots. It comprises the 7 / 10th of oak and beech and Scots pine, the latter being mostly found in the west and center of the forest. Production of high quality timber remains the main activity. To achieve such development, the most promising are oaks throughout their growth, be surrounded by other trees gradually freed by successive improvement cuts.
There is not so long, we could say that this forest was sailing on all the seas of the globe. Colbert, at the request of Vauban who wanted to book the most beautiful oaks to the Royal Navy, aménagea rationally exploitation. Even today, there are some pieces of that era: the "Colbert forests". Later, the oaks of Tronçais served for the Louvre frames.
Today Tronçais oak cooperage is particularly appreciated for maturing of the wines of Bordeaux and its exceptional quality enabled the Charentais coopers making barrels for the aging of the greatest cognacs. The oaks of lesser quality are transformed into lumber or used for firewood.
Some oaks, old almost three centuries reach up to two meters in circumference and can peak as the oak of the Resistance, over forty meters high. They are, for some, the name of a personality: Oak Charles-Louis Philippe... Oak Emille Guillaumin.
In this Tronçais, water is everywhere with its blue ponds in Sologne-like on the banks of which it is pleasant to walk: Tronçais, Saloup, Saint-Bonnet, Pirot or Morat who with their driving force, have allowed the installation of forges in the eighteenth century.
A powerful metal industry is therefore established. The forest has played a decisive role in the regional economy and led to large montluçonnaise industry.
If it is a privilege for men, Tronçais forest is also for animals. Deer, wild boars, martens and polecats rub shoulders with some rare wild cats that surprised walker can still meet in the aisles or near ponds at dusk.
Maintained, protected, the forest is a great place to walk, to discover nature and wildlife. Much is also area of silence between rounds of the Guardian and the Grande Borne, near the Viljot fountain, where one enters on foot, horseback or bicycle.
The legend of the fountain Viljot: At the heart of the forest, close to the zone of silence, the Viljot fountain recalls the existence of a Gallo-Roman villa. Legend has it that a real city was the site of the fountain. She disappeared, swallowed up in the bog. On Christmas night, leaning over the water, you could hear the muffled ringing of bells of the church disappeared.
Another legend says that girls who want to marry, engage a pin in the fountain. If the needle is planted at the bottom, the girl "has piqued a heart." More surely in clear water, we perceive the silver coins thrown by the girls who want to find a husband or other visitor with a vow.