Forest of Tronçais

Forêt de Tronçais
Map showing the location of Forêt de Tronçais
Map showing the location of Forêt de Tronçais
LocationAllier, Auvergne, France
Coordinates46°37′N 2°46′E / 46°37′N 2°46′E / 46.617; 2.767
AdministratorNational Forests Office (ONF)
Typical straight roads through the forest

The Forest of Tronçais (French: Forêt de Tronçais, IPA: [tʁɔ̃sɛ]) is a national forest[2] comprising 10,600 hectares (26,000 acres) in the Allier department of central France. It is managed by the National Forests Office (ONF).[3] Its oaks, planted by Louis XIV's minister Jean-Baptiste Colbert to supply the French Navy, constitute one of the principal stands of oaks in Europe.

Within the forest boundaries are the communes of Braize, Cérilly, Isle-et-Bardais, Le Brethon, Meaulne, Saint-Bonnet-Tronçais, Urçay, Valigny and Vitray. It is mainly made up of sessile oak.[4] It also contains 130 hectares (320 acres) of ponds and is deemed by many as the most-beautiful oakwood in Europe.[4]


Path near the "Chêne carré" (December 2011)

The Forest of Tronçais is located in the inventaire forestier national [fr] (INF) sylvoecoregion [fr] of Boischaut et Champagne Berrichonne. The forest constitutes the most part of the massif du Tronçais, a highland region which spans about 12,000 ha (30,000 acres) and is part of the Massif Central.

The massif is located in the Allier department of the Bourbonnais region. The oakwood spans the communes of Braize (776 ha), Cérilly, Allier (1,788 ha), Couleuvre (405 ha), Isle-et-Bardais (2,788 ha), Le Brethon (1,400 ha), Meaulne (112 ha), Saint-Bonnet-Tronçais (1,176 ha), Urçay (343 ha), Valigny (17 ha) and Vitray (1,728 ha).

The massif has a general north–west orientation, with slight slopes, except in the massif de La Bouteille and stream hollows. Altitudes vary from 205 m (673 ft) in the northwest to 360 m (1,180 ft) in Bois Laid.

Annual rainfall is between 800 and 900 mm (31 and 35 in),[5] with an average temperature of 10 °C (50 °F).

There are four main parts of the forest: l'Armenanche (east), la Réserve (centre), les Landes blanches (north-west) and la Bouteille (south-west). Several enclaves have created " open areas ". The contours of the écotone/lisières massif are very rugged.


The forest is located on the southern limit of the Paris Basin, on varied substrates (from the primary to the quaternary eras). Most of the forest is located on sandstone or clay from the triassic period.

Bodies of water

Two rivers cross the massif: the Marmande [fr] and its tributary the Sologne [fr]. The Marmande is a tributary of the Cher which feeds the Loire. There are also five ponds (French: l'étang):

  • L'étang de Saint-Bonnet (44 ha) – This natural pond was enlarged at the end of the 18th century to sustain the level of l'étang de Morat.
  • L'étang de Tronçais (18 ha) – On la Sologne, created in 1789 to provide energy to the forges of Tronçais
  • L'étang de Morat (private) (13 ha) – On la Sologne, downstream of l'étang de Tronçais
  • L'étang de Saloup (private) (12 ha) – Upstream of l'étang de Tronçais
  • L'étang de Pirot (70 ha) – On la Marmande, this 14-metre-deep (46 ft) pond was in operation in 1848 to feed the canal de Berry via l'étang de Goule.
L'étang de Pirot (December 2011)

There are about 100 spring sources in the forest:

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