Nature’s best friend
- For you, Epinal Tourisme is: A service which allows people to discover all the diversity of nature, culture, architecture, sports, food, events … offered by the Urban Community
- Your favorite local dish is: A Lorraine punch with Mirabelle liqueur … then a Lorraine pork stew! And for desert, a nice damson pie! I’m not choosing a dish but a whole meal!
- Your favorite local touristic place is: Paddle on the Moselle River
In search for the beaver, though other species were found!
How do you feel about mingling with nature and going on a search for a strange animal that was reintroduced in our region in the 80’s? The European beaver is the biggest European rodent.
We are in Charmes, a small town between Epinal and Nancy, crossed by the Moselle River and the Vosges canal. It has a protected area called Natura 2000 where the wild fauna and flora are waiting for you.
I am taking part in a tour organised by the Tourist Office, but other organisations offer similar experiences, like the Conservatoire des Espaces Naturels de Lorraine, or the Groupe d’Etude des Mammifères de Lorraine …
Our small group of explorers get to know one another as we walk towards the pond of Charmes. We are getting closer, so we need to be quiet and calm. The guide, wearing dark clothes and hidden in the wild grass, hands us a pair of binoculars. There is a lot of fish and we also notice gallinules and ahhh, black “baby swans” (chicks)! It seems to be quite busy a little further away. Things are getting heated even! A coypu is working the riverbank. Smaller, with a round tail (not flat like the beaver), it shares the same living space but unlike the beaver, it is often seen as a pest because it digs a lot of tunnels.
Where are the beavers then?
We now set off to the path of Ile-sous-Essegney. It is getting darker … But we all have our eyes wide opened. “Look at this grey heron!” “There, you should see a Rosa canina (“wild rose”)!”: the guide gives so much information, he teaches our eyes : we are surrounded by wonders.
In the dark, we notice a man, standing here, not moving. He is focused and holds a camera with an impressive lens, which tells us we might be getting closer to the ultimate goal of this walk: watching the beavers.
Step by step, we follow the guide. Then, all of a sudden: there it is! The beaver we were waiting to see! The impressive animal is on the other side of the shore. It swims quickly. Actually, it keeps swimming back and forth with branches in its mouth. The beaver lives near the woods and in the water. Its teeth never stop growing, which means it needs to gnaw to survive. We think we make out a couple. Then one of the beavers disappears: it can stay under the water for almost 15 minutes without breathing! Finally, it drifts away, along the Moselle River.
Softly, the guide tells us about the life of the beavers, their cycle of life, their habits and what they bring to the world. The beaver almost disappeared in France because it was hunted and killed for its meat and fur (hats, cardigans, vests or beaver furs were in fashion at the time). But this animal helps to clean the various waterways thanks to its dams which are naturally filtering. It is herbivorous and feeds on bark, sprouts, fruits, leaves, branches… The children of the group will not forget a thing of what is happening in front of us.
It’s time to turn back!
On the way back, a few cockchafers follow us: they are not dangerous, but very loud! Further away, we see a few beavers again: they get busy once the temperature is going down. A few cherries brighten our tour up, as well as an interesting conversation on mushrooms areas, which are not usually shared. But this will be for another time!
NEXT TOURS PROGRAMMED:
Nature Trip: Clue of the presence of the beaver
- 1st of February from 9.30 to 11.30 am
- 29th of February, 9.30am to 11.30am
Nature Trip: Beaver watching
- 12th of June, 7.30 pm to 10 pm
- 26th of June from 7.30 pm to 10 pm
- 31st of July from 7.30 pm to 10 pm
Long trousers, dark clothes, walking shoes recommended. Do not hesitate to bring binoculars.
TOURISM OFFICE OF CHARMES: (+33)3 29 61 00 86