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Avesnois regional natural park

Hedgerows, deciduous forests, blossoming orchards, meandering rivers, mills along the water and outdoor dance-floors in the heart of every village and bluestone shrines, all make the Avesnois Regional Natural Park an area of exceptional interest. The dairy cows are happy and productive in a magnificent wooded landscape. They provide a huge number of dairy products, of which Maroilles cheese is the flagship. The remarkable heritage of the Avesnois has garnered its recognition and adoption into the family of the 48 Regional Parks of France.

The Avesnois "bocage"


Composed of a mosaic of grassland and crops interleaved with hedges and pollarded trees, ponds, streams, woods and rivers... the Avesnois country is home to a huge diversity of trees and shrubs of local origin, which are tended and regularly trimmed in the local style.

Dense and diverse, the bocage is of great ecological and agricultural importance, being a major factor in reducing soil erosion.

Walk between the typical local chapels and oratories, passing by the mills and “kiosks” that mark the identity of a territory rich in history.


The forest of Mormal


Gargantua's tomb... the legend of Ursus and Mormal Forest sparked the imagination of many storytellers and historians.

Managed by the National Forestry Office, Mormal spans over , hectares and consists of majestic oak and beech.

A natural site, bearing the mark of agricultural husbandry

Mormal has been a managed forest for many centuries, supporting the development of local crafts such as shoemaking, pit-sawing and carpentry. During the two world wars, the forest of Mormal suffered extensive damage due to fighting and over-cutting. The wars explain why so many trees are the same age, and the many ponds and lakes have their origin in the scars of battle.

Mysterious wildlife

The ponds and lakes are today home to an abundance of amphibians (frogs, newts and salamanders). Only the northern forest, around Bon Wez was not affected by war, as shown by the remarkably old trees that grow there.

An interesting historical footnote tells that elephants were used to haul the timber during the war, when all the horses were requisitioned for the fighting.

Rivers and streams

The 2,150kilometres of rivers in the Avesnois region are an important feature of the landscape, leaving their mark here and there, in the plains and valleys. The water flows from three separate watersheds: the Scheldt, the Sambre (in the Meuse) and the Oise. The Sambre basin occupies most of the territory of Avesnes. It is a highly varied landscape, mostly rural at the tributaries, where agriculture predominates, while the Sambre valley is highly urbanized, particularly following its industrialization in the 19th and 20th centuries.


The Sambre basin has a diversity of watercourses with an interesting ecological potential. The presence of rich and diverse natural environments, with farmland and forest, heavy rain, sparse habitation and particularly the decline of certain potentially polluting human activities, give a greater biodiversity than is found in other regions.


Maison du Parc
Grange Dîmière
4 cour de l'abbaye
B.P. 11203
59550 Maroilles
Tel: +33 (0)3 27 77 51 60 -
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