"Les Monts du Forez" Monts du Forez by kokoryko
Monts du Forez Travel Guide: 39 reviews and 199 photos
Many mountains, geographic entities, are boundaries, borders, frontiers, and the Forez Mountains, modest mountains culminating at 1634m separate the Rhône Alpes and Auvergne regions in France; VT (the data base!) sometimes does not like physical geography, (there is no Pyrénées entry), but there is a “Monts du Forez” destination; the Forez is mostly located in Rhône Alpes, but covers also the eastern part of Auvergne; there will be links for both regions, but I will post this page (the first apparently!) in the “Monts du Forez” destination!
The Forez region is located North West of the city of St Etienne, a city with an old industrial tradition; this region covers an area of 1200 square km, between the cities of Thiers and Noirétable in the North, and the area between Usson en Forez and La Chaise Dieu in the South. This rural area offers plenty of accommodation for the traveller, from camping grounds to luxury hotels, but the best are the many home stays you may find in the countryside.
We will mainly look at some beauties of the south, but a few excursions will lead us to the summits, the vineyards on the slopes of the northern hills, and we will often cross the border between Rhône Alpes and Auvergne, but the administrative boundaries are not an obstacle for the traveller.
I will write about balconies; the balconies are not only the platforms surrounded by a small barrier, where you can stand in front of a window or a door and look at the landscape, street scenes, have a chat with your neighbour in the same building, grow some plants. . . . Here, it is about the Balcons du Forez, an area located at the western fringe of the French Rhône-Alpes region. It is in fact located in the Loire Departement, on the western banks of the Loire River, making up the southern area of the Monts du Forez.
This hilly area is called Balconies, as there are many look outs from hills, from escarpments above deep gorges, and with fine weather the view opens as far as to the Alps, located 150 km East.
But we will also go deep in the forests, see the beautiful spring in the meadows, look at marvels of nature, discover the flowers of summer, the mushrooms of autumn, and much more. . . . Old industrial cities and villages are nested in the valleys, rural villages spot the hills, very welcoming people live there, lots of history left traces in the villages. . . it’s just beautiful: many small roads and trails link the villages, the summit of hills, and I will take you to some of the villages and lookouts of the area. A few small cities, laden with traditions, old history will be visited also, but the countryside is so beautiful, the woods, and fields, on the hills, the small villages and their very old roman churches, small jewels spotted in valleys or hills. . . Whatever the season, the area is beautiful, but autumn, adding its colours is a glorious period.
If you look on the web with your favourite search engine, you will find a lot of information, especially about walking trails, mountain bike trails, many sporting events about the “Balcons du Forez”, but there is absolutely no need to be in sportive condition to visit the area!
I will try to give a bit of information about accommodation, but it will be very general, mainly websites and some “recommendations”; I have a den on the western slopes of the mountains and have no experience of local tourist accommodation, but I know people who visit the place and they are generally enchanted by the local hospitality.
Ah! And Forez is like “forêt”; phonetically it is /fɔ.ʁɛ/ , so you do not pronounce the “z”, and there is a bit controversy about the origin of the name: does it just designate forest? Or does it have a Latin origin, coming from “Forum Segusiavorum”, designating a place where a local tribe lived when Cesar conquered the Gaul country? I like the idea of the forest, as the area is covered with plenty of beautiful forests.
- Pros:Real countryside, beautiful landscapes, wonderful hikes
- Cons:Unpredictable weather
- In a nutshell:Walk on the balconies
When I am in my den at the right season (I manage to be there at the right season, usually) I practice a local custom... more travel advice
When I am in my den, I like to cook at home, sometimes in the fireplace. . . but at least once during each stay there, I... more travel advice
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