Gazeteer of France’s great oak woods – Chœurs-Bommiers, the princes de Condé at the ONF
Published in October 2018, the book The oak in majesty, from forest to wine highlights the concept of forest terroir: a specific soil, aspect, and rainfall, as well as a particular exposure to sunlight, to which should be added the species or variety of tree, the density of plantation, as well as average age, all of which will influence the grain and quality of the wood. The value of a mature high forest will thus depend on both the terroir and in the way in which it has been “led,” as French winegrowers say, or managed, in the words of the forester.
The book, fully illustrated with photographies, compile, through a gazeteer with a lot of details about geography, mesoclimate and history, a list of twenty-six beautiful oak wood forests, as the forest of Chœurs-Bommiers.
With three distinct massifs spread over the Indre and the Cher, this forest of 5,100 hectares (12,600 acres) is located on a fairly heterogeneous geological base of sand, clay, and limestone. Oak is dominant (90%), with 80% sessile and 20% common, the latter growing on calcareous soils and in the wetter areas along the Liennais, a minor river that flows into the Cher. “It is a species under threat if climate warming continues,” observes Franck Jarry, who oversees the ONF’s local unit. “We’ve set up a strict protected bioreserve of 40 hectares (almost 100 acres), where we do not intervene at all, in order to monitor all evolution.”
Chœurs (pronounced “sheur”) is a former royal forest which, until the Revolution, was attached to Issoudun, whereas Bommiers, like Chateauroux, belonged to the Condé. Both forests provided charcoal for the neighboring forges. Today this national oak forest of Atlantic type, located at an altitude of between 150 and 185 meters (490–606 feet) and receiving some 700 mm (27½ in.) rain per annum, supplies carpenters, cabinetmakers, and coopers. Finally, it is worth noting that this stretch of woodland, located east of Chateauroux, is much appreciated not only by huntsmen and walkers but also by fishermen, who would gather at night round the pond of Trois Biches to fish for carp.
Find out the entire gazeteer of France’s great oak woods, and much more, in The oak in majesty, from forest to wine written by Sylvain Charlois et Thierry Dussard.