Spread over 50,000 hectares of land, 35,000 hectares of which are forested, Orleans Forest is the biggest state-owned forest in metropolitan France.
The forest is composed of three forest massifs from east to west: Lorris, Ingrannes and Orleans. Orleans Forest extends over 60 kilometres north of the Loire between Orleans and Gien.
A forest biodiversity observatory
Managed by France’s National Forests Office (OFN) and classified as a Natura 2000 site (protected natural area in the EU), Orleans Forest offers a unique environment for the conservation and protection of flora and fauna.
Deer, roe deer, wild boar, hare and other wildlife, 180 species of bird including the extremely rare Osprey and 730 plant species including English oaks, Scots pines, birches, hornbeams, beeches and hazel trees populate the forest.
For superb views of the forest ecosystem, head to Belvédère des Caillettes (a panoramic tower) or the Ravoir observatory.
A ‘green lung’ for sport and leisure activities in the great outdoors
Hike from one side of Orleans Forest to the other along the GR 3 (east to west) and GR 32 (north to south) footpaths.
Amble along Orleans canal, an inland waterway built long ago to connect the Loire with Loing and Briare canals…
The forest is criss-crossed with 1,200 kilometres of trails for you to explore on foot, by bike or even on horseback!
The great outdoors also has a number of fascinating historical sights to be found along the nature trails.
Indeed, Orleans Forest has preserved many traces of its past, spanning the Celtic period to the Resistance…
The region offers numerous walks, such as the Carnutes ‘sensory’ trail, named after the Carnutes Forest which stretched from the Seine to the Loire during the time of the Druids.
The Carrefour de la Résistance (Resistance Crossroads) in Lorris is a unique remembrance site that keeps alive the memory of resistance fighters killed during the Second World War.
Make the most of your trip to the area to add to your historical knowledge by visiting the Departmental Resistance and Deportation Museum in Lorris or the Forest Crafts and Legends Museum in Loury.
Would you rather be shown around? Book a guided tour to explore the largest state forest in France in the company of an ONF guide.
Leisure and relaxation activities
With a wide range of leisure and relaxation activities on offer locally, you’ll never get bored!
Etang de la Vallée leisure park in Combreux is a peaceful oasis in the heart of the forest for the whole family to enjoy. Relax on the sandy beach or grassy areas, have a swim, share a picnic in one of the designated zones, follow one of the trails on foot or by bike, or go fishing.
For an unusual outing, head to the Belle de Grignon in Vieilles-Maisons-sur-Joudry. Docked at Grignon harbour, this wooden barge is a reconstruction of a 19th-century flûte berrichonne, a traditional vessel used to transport cargo on the Orleans and Berry canals. Learning resources on board will teach you all about traditional boat building.