This year my travels had an unexpected treat. After wrapping up the PhD in Hong Kong, I planned to a make a stop for a couple of weeks in France on the way west to my new life in the states. Rather than roaming through France on my own, I was joined by my father and my sister with her husband and very young boy and we did a short family trip from Paris east to Champagne province, up north-west to the coasts of Normandy and then back down to Paris. My family can largely be classified as an alcohol unfriendly family, but still – the charms of Champagne seemed appealing and so we were able to discover lots that goes beyond vineyards and bubbly intoxicating drinks.
One of the places we visited in Champagne was a forest of twirling trees. We parked our rental at the designated spot and went for a circular path around Forêt Domaniale de Verzy to walk among these unique trees.
Wikipedia has a quick intro to these unique trees and the forest:
A Fau of Verzy is either a dwarf beech (Fagus sylvatica variety tortuosa), or a dwarf oak tree or a dwarf chestnut tree. These grow in the forest of Verzy, 25 km south of Reims in France. In this forest are less than a thousand dwarf beeches, some dozen dwarf oaks and some dwarf chestnuts (see Biology below), but this article speaks in the main about dwarf beeches.
They are not more than 4 or 5 metres high (12 or 15 feet). In summer, they spread their leaves like heavy sun umbrellas; some looking like leaf igloos. In winter, their tortuous shape can be seen naked: trunks and branches are crooked, bent, twisted and pendulous to the ground.
With more than 1,000 dwarf beeches, the National Forest of Verzy is the world’s principal reserve of dwarf beeches.
Here’s a bit from the circular path, with my nephew running ahead and showing us the way…
Not too far away is a lighthouse – Le Phare de Verzenay en Champagne – Musée de la Vigne. There’s really no reason to have a lighthouse nowhere near water but one French guy thought it would be an amusing tourist attraction. The place also has a small museum.
I didn’t go into either of those, but I did stop nearby to take a photos of the lovely area. You don’t need to go up the lighthouse to capture stunning panoramic photos…
More on Champagne to come.