Tag Archives: hunting

The lakes around Rosnay

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Any map of the area around Rosnay in France shows an amazing number of lakes. Some are quite small, while others are very extensive. This landscape feature puzzled us when we were doing our tour planning and we decided that a ride through the area to have a look was in order.

I rather suspected (hoped?) that the lakes were part of a large native wetland environment and we were going to be treated to a number of sightings of native fauna and flora.

I have actually written about this place in a previous post (Night riding in the inky dark) , however, I did not include many photos of the lakes or any information on the the Brenne Nature Park.

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What we found was something quite different to what I imagined, and yet it still lived up to what I had expected (in many respects). The lakes area is certainly a very big wetland environment, but the vegetation and fauna were nothing like I had envisaged.

This nature reserve is huge – it covers 166 000 hectares (640 square miles). There are over 2ooo lakes, all of which are man made.

Rosnay2I am not sure why they were constructed, only that it happened a very long time ago and all are now part of a naturalised habitat. The largest lake is the Mer Rouge (Red Sea) which covers 160 hectares.

Unlike many of the parks I am familiar with, this one is crossed by many roads and has people living throughout the area. This makes many of the lakes readily accessible to nature lovers and the place is a mecca for those who enjoy wildlife.

Plants and animals both thrive in the ideal conditions and more than 2300 animal species co-exist with 1200 different species of plants.

I must confess that I did not spend a great deal of time looking at the varieties of plants and/or birds because it did not strike me at the time that there were many to observe. However, this may have been because our timing was wrong (it was Autumn).

Whatever the cause, it was remarkably quiet on the roads – no traffic and few people anywhere! Bicycle rider’s version of heaven!

Ironically, the lakes are also a mecca for duck hunters. Naturalists and hunters live in an uneasy peace, each enjoying their own activities, but aware that they are in constant virtual conflict.

Hunting huts abound around the lakes, but most were mostly deserted while we were there. I am not familiar with the hunting laws in France, except I do know they are quite strict. So perhaps we were there out of hunting season and this is why it was  so quiet.

We were puzzled by the cleared areas and small mounds along some of the roads, but apparently this makes game easier to see (hunters stand on the mound and the hapless animals get caught as they cross the open zone).

Whatever the reason for the solitude, I did enjoy the easy riding and the spectacular views of the lakes.

Hunting in France

In my previous post I mentioned that we had come across our first French hunting party while sitting on the wall admiring the Château de Corbelin. Out of the blue, we suddenly heard lots of dogs barking and a few shots being fired in the distance. As we had come from a country where gun control is very strict and so are the rules for using guns, we were a bit alarmed, thinking that something was amiss. In Australia, the use of guns along public roadsides is not permitted and one can also not use these items near or in areas where people live. Hunting activities are therefore generally limited to remote and private lands.

Looking at the Google Map below, the marker is placed near the wall where we were sitting. The hunting party were some way up the road (D19) in the wooded area (shown green on the map). This looked to be rather close to the road and a bit close to where people were living! But we knew nothing about the laws in France when it came to hunting.

It turns out that France the hunting laws are a bit different but just as strict. It is necessary to have a licence and hunters have to complete a course and then pass a theory and practical exam before the licence can be issued. The sport is practiced between September and February and we were touring in October, so this explained why we saw/heard shooters and their dogs a few times. I have seen a number of pictures and paintings of hunters and their dogs and I enjoyed seeing the ‘real thing’ in action, even though we were always some way off.

Hunters and their dogs taking no notice of us as we cycled by.

Hunters and their dogs – not sure what they were tracking in this paddock.

One of our B&B hosts was a hunter – his preference was to hunt wild boar (which I thought was something that only happened in Asterix books!). Not only was this aspect of French culture a total revelation to me, but we were then treated to a dinner of wild boar during our stay! It was delicious and we really appreciated that it had been specially prepared for us as we were from Australia.

A real (but stuffed!) wild boar!

A real (but stuffed!) wild boar!

Hunting can be dangerous for others. Apparently each year about 25 hunters die from wounds inflicted accidentally by other hunters (Ref: Lonely Planet – France). This travel guide also suggests that one should keep an eye out out for ‘Chasseurs‘ or ‘Chasse gardeé‘ signs and stay well clear.

I did get startled a few times with a gun going off suddenly in the distance (much to the amusement of my cycling partner!), but never felt in any danger as we were never that close to the action. How would you feel about cycling in areas where guns are being used during the day for hunting? Would this be enough to make you to ride somewhere else instead?