Stretching southeast of Blois, the Sologne, depending on the weather and the season, can be one of the most dismal areas in central France: damp, flat, featureless and foggy. At other times its forests, lakes, ponds and marshes have a quiet magic – in summer, for example, when the heather is in bloom and the ponds are full of water lilies, or in early autumn when you can collect mushrooms. Wild boar and deer roam here, not to mention the ducks, geese, quails and pheasants, that far outnumber the small human population. It was this remote, mystical landscape that provided the setting for Alain Fournier’s novel Le Grand Meaulnes; Fournier himself spent his childhood in La Chapelle d’Angillon, 34km north of Bourges, and the story’s famous “fête étrange” took place in the Sologne.

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