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THE FOREST OF SAINT-GATIEN-DES-BOIS
With its 3500 hectares, it is the largest forest in Calvados, its perimeter reaches 28 km.

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Originally, it was called Touques forest, the name change was made at the time of the French conquest in the early 9,5th century. She knew many owners over the centuries, passing through the royal domain, belonging to the nobility (Louise de Bourbon, Mlle de Montpensier ...), sometimes fragmented and sold to various buyers. It was exploited by brioleurs who transported logs, fagots or ferns there, helped by their "mazettes", small horses equipped with a small bell to locate them better at night. Today several private owners share the forest, mainly for the production of wood or as a hunting estate. Before the Revolution, its fauna consisted of wolves, deer, roe deer, fallow deer and wild boar. They have given way since then to foxes, hares and rabbits, as well as to some deer, wild boars and woodcocks present in winter. A 100 km hiking trail from the town hall of Saint-Gatien-des-Bois, accessible outside the hunting season, allows you to discover a small plot. Every year at the beginning of July, the Trail du Bois Joli is also run there, two courses to choose from for a XNUMX% natural race!

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Hiking in the forest

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In the heart of the forest, Chalet Güttinger

This Swiss-inspired private wooden chalet, surrounded by an overhanging balcony-promenade, was built around 1820 by Ulrich Güttinger, leader of the romantic school of Swiss origin. The house provided Ulrich Güttinger with the calm he longed for. Located in the middle of lush greenery between rhododendrons and hydrangeas, there were many varieties of flowers, greenhouses, greenhouse, vegetable garden and orchard. Important horticultural festivals took place in this park established in full forest which made the admiration of all.

Frequenting the Salon de l'Arsenal, Ulrich Güttinger often received here the great literature and arts of his time who liked to come and relax: Victor and Adèle Hugo, Alfred de Musset, Charles-Augustin Sainte-Beuve, Alexandre Dumas, Gustave Flaubert, Charles Baudelaire, Théophile Gautier, Frédéric Chopin ... "I am writing to you from the Chalet de Guttlnguer, where I have been for two days and where I would very much like to see you. I am in the delight of the Chalet and its forest. It is now magnificent. All day looking at the sea which is very close to us, as the onlooker watches the water flow. I am dazzled by all these splendors ". Alfred de Musset, 1819.

Around 1950, the chalet housed some summer camps. Now abandoned, the remains of the chalet are walled up.

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