The beautifully preserved village of Lyons-la-Foret set in the Forest of Lyons - Europe’s largest beech forest and once a favourite hunting ground of the Dukes if Normandy - was actually founded on the site of an eleventh century castle where Henry I died.
Enjoy wandering around Lyons’s streets of sixteenth to eighteenth century half-timbered houses, some of which are highly decorated, and visit the seventeenth century covered market place.
Lyons-la-Foret also has an interesting town hall and church with bell tower. The composer Maurice Ravel wrote some of his music here and the town has twice been used as the setting for film versions of Madame Bovary. The woods of Lyons Forest are a lovely place for a walk
The most famous river in France, the Seine, begins its 776km journey near Dijon flowing north west through the capital, Paris, and eventually reaching the English Channel at Le Havre. Downstream between Paris and Rouen, the Seine crosses the department of Eure.
The wide meanders are a highway for cruises and commerce and the banks are bordered by marshes and forests, high cliffs and fields of grain and orchards. Charming villages such as Giverny where Claude Monet lived and painted nestle along its banks and historic monuments like the Chateau de la Roche Guyon, where Rommel made his headquarters in WWII, balance on chalk cliffs.
The Normandy Seine Regional Natural Park covers both sides of the River Seine in the Eure and Seine Maritime departments and was set up in 1974 to preserve the traditions and cultural heritage of the Normandy landscape together with its native fauna and flora. The park was originally known as the Brotonne Regional Park after the Brotonne Forest of beeches which follows the meanders of the river.
Walking routes radiate from the village in the forest of La Haye-de-Routot where 2 ancient hollow yew trees, over 1000 years old, guard the churchyard. La Haye also has a bakehouse, run as a working museum, and Musee du Sabotier (clogs).
West of the Brotonne Forest between the Seine and low wooded hills lies nearly 5,000 hectares of the Marais Vernier marshland. Dykes and ditches have criss-crossed the land since the Middle Ages to help drain and cope with flooding from the Seine, including the famous Dutch Dyke built by Dutch workers in the seventeenth century.
Horses and cattle graze the fields and on the surrounding fertile farmland thatched cottages trimmed with irises sit amongst the apple trees in a bocage landscape outlined with hedges. Follow the route des chaumiers (thatched roof houses route) on the left bank of the Seine and explore the forest on foot, by bicycle or horseback.
Take a guided walk in the wetlands of the Marais Vernier and lower valley of the Risle which are the subject of special preservation campaigns. Bird-watchers will find plenty to observe beside the rivers, La Grande Mare lake and on ponds and canals.