BOIS DE LA CHAISETHE NATIONAL FOREST THAT TIME FORGOT
Located on the sandstone northeast of Noirmoutier-en-l’Île, sheltered from the westerly winds, this wood represents the gentleness of the ocean in its purest form. It stands out for the variety of its Mediterranean species: evergreen oaks, strawberry trees, maritime pines and mimosas bloom in a very carefully arranged disarray. The painter Auguste Renoir was won over by this inspired, inspiring place. Will you love it just as much?
A UNIQUE PLACE
Guarded by Eurasian scops owls and flying beetles, this forest of maritime pines, evergreen oaks and strawberry trees provides shelter to the luxurious houses that blend harmoniously with the rocky nature of the coast. A listed site since 1936, the famous Bois de la Chaise is a destination for holidays and rambles. It spans 110 hectares of land and lines the beaches over more than 2 km. It is bordered by a cliff carved into a series of rocky headlands and sandy coves.
Bois de la Chaise
A QUICK HISTORY LESSON
“This evergreen oak wood was recorded as early as 1407 but was undoubtedly there much earlier”, recounts former architect Philbert Dupont. “It was chopped down and razed on several occasions: by the Spanish in 1524, by the Dutch in 1674 and by the Vendée and republican armies in 1793 to meet their need for firewood during a very harsh winter.
The Jacobsens, who owned most of the wood, went on to plant pine trees before dividing the wood into plots.”
A listed site, the Bois de la Chaise witnessed the beginning of its tourist age with the island’s notables, who built more than 100 villas in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
The beach huts on the Plage des Dames, Plage des Sableaux and Anse Rouge cove marked the start of seaside tourism. Ladies would use them to slip into their swimming costumes at a time when sea bathing was fashionable and modesty still very much alive.
Bois de la Chaise
“It is an admirable spot, as beautiful as the South of France but with a sea whose beauty differs from that of the Mediterranean.” Auguste Renoir
The Bois de la Chaise was a popular place amongst poets and painters of merit. In 1892, Noirmoutier Island received a first-rate visitor: painter Auguste Renoir.
THE MUST EVENTS
MIMOSAS IN BLOOM
In the winter, you won’t want to miss when the mimosas begin to bloom. The Bois de la Chaise is livened up by these bright yellow balls, offering you unique scenery filled with poetry...
BOIS DE LA CHAISE REGATTAS
For three days in the summer, the Bois de la Chaise Regattas showcase Noirmoutier Island’s boating on the magical, preserved waters of Bourgneuf Bay.
Paddle au large du Bois de la Chaise - Alexandre Lamoureux
From Plage des Dames to Cob Rock on a paddleboard
Highlights: The feeling of walking on water, gorgeous villas, a whole series of beaches, and the Bois de la Chaise wood.
Approx. 1½ hours
On the Plage des Dames beach, Ghislain the paddleboarding instructor will run you through some balancing exercises. Although you will be focused on each sensation, you will not miss any part of the spectacle of the pontoon and the bathing huts gently drifting away. Before you, the fragrant Bois de la Chaise seems impenetrable, while the lighthouse-like Plantier Tower, overlooking the Anse Rouge beach, shows off its best side. Alone on the water, protected from the dominant winds, you advance easily at a slow pace, perfect for quiet contemplation. You can take in the Plage des Souzeaux beach, lined with magnificent villas, in a single glance, all the way to Cob Rock. There, shellfish diggers take advantage of the low tide to collect oysters, cockles, shrimp, clams and winkles. Before you turn back, you can spot the Plage de la Clère beach and the village of Le Vieil in the next cove over.