The Bec d’Allier, a place in constant evolution
This is the Bec d’Allier, which is where the Loire and Allier rivers meet. The Allier is a beautiful river, we often speak of the Loire, but the Allier is just as wild! I've been coming here for a long time, since I was a boy, and I've watched the place evolve. Right here, we are at the very spot where the two rivers meet. That's what makes this place so special!
We feel like we're in the Amazon rainforest,
it really is an exceptional place!
The landscapes here are constantly evolving… When the river is at its lowest, it looks like there is more sand here than water. It looks like a river of sand! From spring/summer, the surroundings take on an exotic appearance that resembles the Amazon rainforest, and some species come here from Africa every year.
Today, we can say that this area is truly recognised for its natural wealth, and this has increased awareness not only for the Loire but also the river Allier. There are 60 km of waterways leading as far as Moulins, and for me, the whole area is a treasure, one that is still well preserved!
And then comes the autumn…
In autumn, the first big change is, of course, the colours! There are some magnificent colours thanks to the vines that have been stripped of grapes, and the hop fields add some magnificent purple shades to the landscape.
The freshwater swamp forest around the Bec d’Allier is a very rare sight in France nowadays, making this an exceptional place to explore in the autumn.
I can see the signs of autumn quite early on. When I am on a boat, surrounded by birds singing, little by little I notice that certain species have left the area. Then one morning, everything goes silent!
In the forest, the first signs are the scents… of humus, and mushrooms that start to fill the air. The bellowing stags also provide an unmissable sound that marks the beginning of this season.
Coming to Burgundy in autumn is an obvious choice, because we are lucky to have vast forests, and unspoilt woodland. It's a fantastic place for walking!
What I appreciate most is that our region is never too crowded, and we can easily go on day trips into the forest without seeing another person all day…
The arrival of the wintering birds
Certain species come here because they find something they can't find elsewhere. Peace-and-quiet!
We are lucky to have a French department that is very rural. The department of Nièvre boasts one hectare of forest land per inhabitant! We can also come here to observe birds, small waders and shorebirds that pass through here in autumn.
A great number of wintering birds also come here, such as the Great Cormorant, the Great Egret which is a very beautiful bird with a wingspan of almost 1.8 m, and also Cranes. Common Cranes have always crossed France, but they used to prefer to land in the south. Over the past fifteen years, they have been shortening their migration route and hundreds of them have been spending the winter in our region. An event that is not to be missed!
Great Egret, which can be seen at the Bec de l'Allier
Christophe will guide you…
Along the waters
The boat trips I organise with Instant Nature are all about making new discoveries, and are more than just a simple boat trip. Among the themes offered, there are a lot of birdwatching outings, in small groups, with observations through different types of telescope, to be able to observe the species without disturbing them
Listen to the bellowing stag
We have a beautiful forest here: Bertranges Forest covers almost 10,000 hectares, and there is a significant population of deer here, making it the ideal place to come and listen to them in the autumn.
We will be setting off in the evening, along a 7-km trail on foot, with gas lanterns to light our way without scaring the animals. An unforgettable experience...Bellowing stag outings
When we are lucky enough to have warmth and humidity at the same time, we can go on some successful foraging outings! Nowadays, most people only know of one or two varieties of mushrooms and can easily overlook edible mushrooms and not think to collect them.
I therefore try to inform people of the different varieties we can find here: either edible or toxic. When it's possible, I love to end an outing with a spontaneous tasting session in the forest, with either cooked or raw mushrooms.Mushroom foraging outings
Guiding visitors through an environment plays a key part in ensuring its protection.
My role as a nature guide is to sort of replace the grandfather who would take his grandson fishing, to discover birds or follow the footsteps of mammals. Today, this information is not always passed on through the generations. We are distancing ourselves from nature, whether is it the forest or the river. It is important to remember that we should be aware of natural habitats, and never underestimate them.
Meet other passionate guides
These local guides contribute to showcasing our beautiful region, each in their own way. Thanks to their input, their advice and their recommendations, they are the ideal ambassadors who will make sure you don't miss out on anything during this key season. For them, one thing is certain, autumn should be spent in Burgundy, nowhere else…