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Get to know France's newest national park

PUBLISHED: 17:25 07 November 2019 | UPDATED: 09:21 08 November 2019

Chatillon-sur-Seine at sunset. Pic: Steven Corton/iStock/Getty

Chatillon-sur-Seine at sunset. Pic: Steven Corton/iStock/Getty

@Steven Corton (@Steven Corton (Photographer) - [None]

It's dedicated to protecting some of France's most glorious forests

First there was the Parc National de la Vanoise, established all the way back in the summer of 1963… Now, 56 years later, France's 11th national park is being inaugurated - and it's the first dedicated to the country's forests!

The Parc National des Forêts de Champagne et Bourgogne has been 10 years in the making, starting with then-Prime Minister François Fillon's initial announcement in 2009.

The new national park will be a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts. Pic: Claude PiardThe new national park will be a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts. Pic: Claude Piard

As the name suggests, the park straddles both Champagne and Burgundy, namely the départements of Côte-d'Or and Haute-Marne. Situated on the Langres plateau, it incorporates the forests of Châtillon, Arc-en-Barrois and also Auberive; that's 242,000 hectares overall. Astonishingly, 80% of the trees within the park have stood there since the French Revolution.

The forests are home to a rich variety of wildlife, including deer, wild boar and European wildcats. If you're lucky, you might even spot a rare black stork - the national park is home to 20% of their French population.

A black stork on its nest. Pic: Frank VassenA black stork on its nest. Pic: Frank Vassen

The park is a great place to get active, with some 2,000km of footpaths to explore including the GR2 and Via Francigena. Bring your binoculars!

There are 127 communes within the boundaries of the park - 60 of these are located within the coeur de Parc, the most preserved section. One of the towns not to miss is Chatillon-sur-Seine, a lovely riverside town bursting with history. Head to the town's Musée du Pays Châtillonnais, where you can see the biggest vessel ever discovered, a 6th-century bronze vase.

The beautiful chateau of Montigny is part of the new national park. Pic: Jean Marie GosseThe beautiful chateau of Montigny is part of the new national park. Pic: Jean Marie Gosse

At the moment the area welcomes between 20,000 and 30,000 visitors each year, but this is estimated to grow to 100,000 people a year in the next decade. So be one of the first to visit this natural wonder.

The forest at Arc-en-Barrois, now part of the new national park. Pic: Clement HuvigThe forest at Arc-en-Barrois, now part of the new national park. Pic: Clement Huvig

For more information, visit forets-champagne-bourgogne.fr/fr

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