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Off-Beat France: The Wild Backwater the Sologne!

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Though to folks living in the Loire Valley area the Sologne, a wild area of swamps and scrub land, has a rather mystical aspect to it that acts like a magnet for folks looking for a day out for a hike through, for France, rare wilderness, or a local for a country house or a stay in one of its many gites or campgrounds, few foreign tourists have even heard of it or go there.

Tant pis the French may say to that and moi auusi - me too would probably have only heard of the Sologne as some footnote like the nearby Gatanais - except I have stayed for long stretches of time in Orleans visiting my French son and in-laws who all raved about the Sologne - in reverent terms, which mystified me because on first glance it seemed to be just a big swamp.

But after several forced visits and marches and bike trips around it I have also grown to appreciate this backwater - no pun intended - that is so so popular with the French. So I will try in this thread to highlight the beauty and gems of the Sologne for folks having been to many of the Famous French regions and may be looking for something different.

And different the Sologne is - no farmers' fields here - no vineyards - no hills (rare for France) just a flat area of swamps and scrub land dotted by ancient villages extent from the days when farming was tried here but failed and the land reverted to its natural state.

And there are chateaus to be sure and nice villages and a distinct Sologne architecture - yes the Sologne has a whole look and feel unique to France, at least IME.

And for rail buffs the fabled train blanc - white train is a narrow-gauge train that trundles thru the heart of the Sologne - and thought it is billed by the SNCF (French national railways) as a tourist line IME of many rides it is also a truly local line connecting isolated villages - one of just three narrow-gauge trains still run by the SNCF it is by far the least publicized ( other two being the more famous petit train jeune down in the Puyrenees and the St-Gervais-les-Bain to Chamonix and beyond Alpine train.

http://www.tersncf.com/regions/centre/fr/loisirs_tourisme/Les_Offres_TER/Lignes_Touristiques/DetailOffre.aspx?TypePage=TTO&ofr_id=tcm:17-62095e

So in future posts on this threads I will try to showcase the Sologne and what one may find nice to see and do there in this backwater of France - including more on the train and biking and hiking and towns and chateaus to visit, etc!

And if others have Sologne experiences to relay please do so.

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