Le Bocage Bourbonnais
An exceptionnal natural environment !
The bocage is a landscape formed of meadows enclosed by criss-crossing hedgerows. On the western shores of the river Allier, it is a distinctive feature that shaped the Bourbonnais region.
The bocage evolved with human activity and resulted from the profound changes undergone by French agriculture from the end of the 16th up until the 18th century,when livestock raising intensified to the south and west of the great cereal-growing plains of the Paris basin. The fields were thus planted with hedges to form enclosures.
In the Bourbonnais as in other regions, this specialisation in cattle raising led to the introduction of the “métairie” sharecropping system. The noble landowners consolidated their estates encompassing the land farmed by the sharecropper
Among the advantages they offer, one very important one is their role in the drainage of runwater and aswindbreaks, which limit erosion and enable animal and plant species to maintain their habitat in cultivated zones. The hedgerows of the bocage offer shelter and food resources to a diversified fauna and enable a great many species of birds,
The Bourbonnais bocage lastly offers an extensive network of paths and trackswinding along the hedgerows – a perfect opportunity to walk or cycle, sheltered from the wind where birdsong leads the trail...