La Forêt



We leave behind the sun-soaked agricultural plain, swept by the wind, occasionally by the Mistral on some days, with its deafening noise, to enter the silence of the shaded and mysterious forest. An inhabited silence, where we are surrounded by invisible presences that populate the woods: insects, butterflies, birds, animals, as well as fairies, dryads, and hamadryads (mythical creatures linked to trees).

The forest here is highly diverse. Tall trees, mainly pines, but also larches, cedars, oaks, and poplars. Further down, bushes laden with berries, ivy, and ground plants, offering plenty of hiding spots for animals and food sources. Let’s listen and observe this animal and plant diversity. The atmosphere remains cool near the river, and the soil is deep, allowing trees to easily grow and reach heights of 20 meters, compared to the 4 or 5 meters of the Mediterranean woods previously traversed.

The diversity of species adapted to this environment is much greater, contrasting with the predominance of evergreen oaks on the Mediterranean plateau or poplars along the Lez. Some trees have been planted, while others arrived with seeds carried by the wind or birds, each finding its place in this vast ecosystem. Humans are invited, just like other living species, to take their place and ensure the sustainability of these woods. They move through it, soaking in what they see or sense of the sounds and smells, picking berries, leaning against a tree or a stump, touching the bark, their senses alert.

They gather firewood, sometimes timber, pick holly or mistletoe, mushrooms. Animals build their nests or dens, gather branches or twigs, berries in the ivy or brambles. This is a place of life, beyond what is perceived at first glance. It’s an evolving place: trees fall, allowing light to reach the ground, enabling other trees to sprout and grow, whether they are of the same species or species more suited to the moment.

Trees live for a long time, several decades, often more than a century, and the evolution of species in the same place allows the forest to endure. Drought-resistant species will surely take up more space tomorrow, while others will remain in wetter areas.

To learn more:

Guided tours of the city are available all year round for groups of ten people minimum.

Bookings to be placed with the Tourist Information Centre 04 75 23 45 33,
or with the Association: “Saint-Vallier Histoire & Patrimoine”: 04 75 23 20 97

Duration: 2h30min