The Nièvre, by the sheer fact that it is the department with the largest proportion of the Morvan, is less populated than the other departments in Burgundy.
Morvan is a Celtic word and it means Black Mountain. But don't be put off, because it is the sparsely inhabitated plateau of granite and woodland which appear from hills and farmland that give it such an appeal.
The highest point in the Morvan, for you cannot talk about the Nièvre without mentioning the Morvan, is Haut-Folin; standing at 901 metres (2,928 ft.) on the slopes of Mont-Beuvray.
The Nièvre predominately comprises of villages with a few towns, but to the tourist it is the Parc du Morvan that people come to visit for its wide variety of outdoor activities.
Whether you want to cycle, canoe, ski, waterski, fishing, birdwatching or horse trekking there is always something for the enthusiast.
The Morvan has it's own infrastructure which is rich and diverse, something the inhabitants are rightly proud of and wish to preserve at all costs.
For the region there are two main sources of natural wealth, the abundant water and dense forests of oak, beech and conifer.At one time the lumber would be floated to Paris via the river Yonne but today it travels by truck and the rivers Yonne, Cousin and Cure are used for the production of electricity.
The medieval city of Clamecy was once the wood-rafting capital of the Morvan situated, as it is, on the Nivernais canal, where the Yonne and Beuvron rivers merge.
From Clamency to Corbigny you can cruise the Nivernais canal either by piloting your own boat or on a guided cruise.
As the canal wends past towns and villages along the Yonne valley before reaching Vaux and Baye ponds.
Then, via the meadows of Bazois, the canal descends the Loire Valley crossing areas of outstanding natural beauty.
The Canal Latéral à la Loire traverses the lovely rural landscapes bordering the Sancerre vineyards as it follows the river current.
It is the abundance of forest that made the Morvan the centre of resistance during WW2. Reminisances of the maquis can still be seen at the Resistance Museum at the Parc du Morvan and at the Maquis Bernard cemetary at Ouroux.
The Maquis Bernard were the largest resistance movement in Burgundy with a membership of over 1500 people.
In 1944 members of the S.A.S. were airdropped into the Morvan with equipment to assist the Maquis. In 2006 a special ceremony took place at the cemetary when ex S.A.S. member who passed away recently had their ashes placed at the cemetary alongside ex Resistance members.
The ceremony took place with invited guests, including serving S.A.S. Nearby is the Resistance museum which is being renovated.
Nevers is the capitol of the Nièvre and famous for Nevers Earthware. Originating in the 15th century artistic patronage and the Duke of Nevers, Italian ceramic artists settled in the city. The raw ingredients required to make the Earthenware, a malleable clay comprised of clay and marl are found in Nevers.
The expansion of the trade in earthenware in the 17th century was due to the available sources of energy to fire the kilns and the new markets created by canal and river navigation.
Various colours are used in the decoration, blue from cobalt mines, purple from maggnesium oxide, green from mixing blue and yellow or copper oxide and yellow from alum.
Mass production from industrialisation produces a hand crafted, decorative earthenware.
The first vineyards to obtain A.O.C. (Appellation d'Origine Controlée) in 1937 were the Pouilly-sur-Loire vineyards. The wine growing area covers Pouilly-sur-Loire, Saint-Anderlain, Tracy-sur-Loire and Saint Martin-sur-Nohain.
Chateau-Chinon was the where François Mitterand was mayor for 22 years before he became President of the Republic.
To lovers of motor racing the name Nevers Magny Cours will mean the French Grand Prix. Tours of the site are available with training on motor bikes and cars.
A visit to the area would not be complete without a visit to Bibracte. It became a site of exceptional interest in 1985 revealing the wealth of Celtic civilisation during the 1st and 2nd centuries AD.
It was the home of the powerful Eduen tribe and covers 200 hectares on the summit of Mont Beuvray. Bibracte was the birthplace of Vercingetorix and there that he organised the Gaul uprising against Caesar in 52BC, culminating in Vercengetorix's surrender at Alesia (Cote d'Or).
The European Archaeological Centre of Mont Beuvray has an archaeological site, the Celtic Civilisation museum and a research centre.
- by Coral Luke
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