The Lac de Grand-Lieu, a paradise for birds
The Lac de Grand-Lieu, bird reserve - Atlantic Loire Valley, France
Explore the impressive Lac de Grand-Lieu, fifteen kilometres from Nantes. A countryside walk that allows you to see the many species of birds that live in France's second-largest bird reserve.
The Lac de Grand-Lieu, an open-air nature reserve
Yes indeed! In winter, the Grand-Lieu stretch of water stretches out across 62 km2, becoming the largest lowland lake in France and one of Europe's biggest too. The ideal setting to house a total of around fifty mammal species, 250 plant species, 30 kinds of fish and, most importantly, almost 300 varieties of birds, including several breeding species. In fact, this utterly beautiful and astonishingly tranquil place is France's second-largest bird reserve, just after the Camargue! Among the species to see, there's a multitude of ducks such as northern shovellers, teals and common pochards that spend winter with the greylag geese and with all the herons that flock to France in spring. We could also mention the rarities that include the Eurasian spoonbill, the whiskered tern and the squacco heron, or more common species such as the white wagtail and the stork.
Take your seat in the mobile observatory!
Choose to visit the site with a guide who, from May to October, runs the mobile observatory at Saint-Aignan-de-Grand-Lieu. Except from winter, when it is kept in the dry to protect it from the rising water levels, this wooden structure sits in the very middle of the wet zone. After quietly getting inside so as not to frighten the birds perching nearby, visitors can take hold of binoculars and telescopes. Another observation post is the belvedere at the Maison Touristique in Passay, a fishing village that is one of the few points of access to the lakeside.
Educational tools at the Maison du Lac de Grand-Lieu
More curious visitors can continue their exploration in Bouaye, further north, at the Maison du Lac de Grand-Lieu. It invites us to discover local flora and fauna, then take the ecological trail to reach the old hunting pavilion of the famous perfumer Jean-Pierre Guerlain, who once owned the site. The building reveals an uninterrupted view over the surrounding countryside. In the very south, in Saint-Philbert-de-Grand-Lieu, the taxidermist Helmut Warzecha works to naturalise local birds. Part of his incredible ornithological collection can be seen by the general public in the walls of the Carolingian abbatial church, a majestic monument to discover at the same time!