It's the call of nature, a return to simpler, more environmentally-friendly holidays. Share a moment of discovery in the heart of the Pinail Nature Reserve. The reserve is located at Vouneuil-sur-Vienne at Moulière State Forestthe largest forest in the Vienne departmentwhich takes its name from the millstone that was once quarried here. This protected area has been shaped by man and his activities since ancient times, and now you can discover it on a walk that's accessible to all.
Let's take a step back in history...
The extraction of stone for mills has been documented since the 9th century (at the time of Pepin II of Aquitaine, great-grandson of Charlemagne). Just imagine, for a moment, the millstone were transported by water along the courses of the Vienne and LoireThey were commonly used within a radius of more than 300 km in west-central France. History even tells us that some of them were taken across the Atlantic to the French colonies in Canada, particularly during the migrations from the metropolis to Quebec in the 17th and 18th centuries.
The thousands of pools that make up the site are the remains of some 100,000 millstones used to grind grain. At the end of the 19th century, it was the arrival of metal cylinders in the mills that brought about the end of milling. Over time, ponds formed in the extraction holes, right on the moor. Today, there are almost 5,000 ponds, an exceptional ecological treasure trove.
Nature reclaims its rights...
The Pinail Nature Reserve is now protected and is home to some remarkable fauna, flora and flora. The mosaic of natural habitats is home to dozens of species: dragonflies, some of which are protected, the white-footed crayfish, a dozen species of amphibians or hybrids such as the green tree frog and the great crested newt. Dozens of bird species nest on the moor, including the hen harrier, the common pitpit and the emblematic pitchou warbler. Numerous species of butterflies, locusts, grasshoppers and cicadas live among an equally exceptional flora of over 400 plant species, six of which are protected. Mushrooms are not to be outdone either, as the reserve protects the best-known fungal repertoire in the former Poitou-Charentes region.
Discover the reserve with your family...
On a beautiful spring day, introduce your children to the importance of respecting the environment through adventure. "The Little Pinail Explorerlabelled Family Experience. Equipped with your rucksack, issued free of charge at the entrance to the reserve, you'll have to take up challenges as a family and become a geologist, naturalist, climatologist, ethologist and reserve manager! Set up your binoculars, open your eyes and observe the plants, animals and mushrooms to fulfil your mission as a little explorer!
Discovering the Pinail nature reserve is a free, open-access 2km trail that takes around 2 hours to complete. You can take your exploration further by taking advantage of the knowledge of the reserve's conservators with guided tours.
If you're a nature lover, you can also extend your stroll by taking one of the many walks or cycle rides around the reserve.
Frequently asked questions
When can I visit the reserve?
The Pinail Nature Reserve is open all year round. However, we recommend that you visit from spring to summer, when biological activity is highest.
How do I get fitted?
Depending on the weather, we recommend that you wear hiking boots or shoes. In hot weather, don't forget your cap, sun cream and a bottle of water.
A little something extra: to make sure you don't miss out on all those great moments, don't forget your camera and a pair of binoculars to watch the deer bellowing, the birds and the little creatures!
Will I see many animals?
You'll need to be discreet and patient at times, but with thousands of natural species, you should be able to catch a glimpse of some of the flora and fauna. We recommend that you take a look at videos produced by the reserve so that you know what to look for and where to look, it might help you in your exploration.
Is it accessible to people with reduced mobility?
Part of the discovery trail is "accessible" to wheelchairs (1.2m wide path, relatively flat but not stabilised). To access the entire course, GEREPI provides joëlettesfree of charge, essential for driving on the rugged terrain of Le Pinail. With the help of two guides per joëlette, these all-terrain, single-wheel wheelchairs guarantee an unforgettable experience in complete safety. Remember to book your equipment in advance (can be hired for off-reserve use).
Can I take my dog for a walk?
Dogs (and other animals) are not allowed in nature reserves, even on a lead. Wild animals are sensitive, particularly during the breeding season, so to respect their environment we recommend that you take a walk around the Pinail reserve.
What rules apply in a nature reserve?
To respect the surrounding flora and fauna, you can walk onlyBicycles, horses and motor vehicles, both internal combustion and electric, are not permitted.
You will need touch with the eyes. Indeed, disturbance of the species can lead to disruption of the ecosystem and, in the long term, desertification of the site. Picking flowers and fruit also prevents plants from reproducing.
Keep your rubbish with youThis may seem a trivial notion, but it is important to leave the area clean in order to respect the reserve's biotope.
In order to NO SMOKINGThe vegetation is extremely flammable. The area has already been ravaged by major fires, so no fires are allowed.