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Culture

6 – The forest in Nivernais – Forest House

19 April 2018

The forest house of Petite Bertrange is located at the north-east of the state forest, along the current D38 departmental road, close to the Mazou stream and the hamlet of Les Limousins.

The forest house of Petite Bertrange is located at the north-east of the state forest, along the current D38 departmental road, close to the Mazou stream and the hamlet of Les Limousins. Petite Bertrange, corresponding to the third of the old Usages of Narcy, was acquired by the Priory of La Charité-sur-Loire in 1364.

During the second half of the 19th century, the Water and Forestry Administration began a major program of forest house construction, usually located on the edge of the state forest, in order to accommodate forest guards and their families. The permanent presence of this staff allowed in particular to fight against poaching and to minimize the risk of fire.

The forest houses and their outbuildings, built according to a regional plan to reduce construction costs, provided independent living for a few weeks in case of bad weather. They often included an area for pigsty, henhouse, stable, barn and bread oven. Each house was also associated with a vegetable plot of about 1.5 hectares.

According to the general plan of the Bertranges Forest built in the 1880, there were at that time 9 forest houses, mainly located on the western limits of the forest: forest houses of la Balangerie (1ha64a), les Pisserts (1ha49a ), la Douée (1ha39a), la Grand Mare (1ha06a), Bois Dieu (1ha48a), l’Usage défendu (1ha42a), les Gounots (96a), la Bertherie (5ha16a) and la Petite Bertrange (1ha05a).

Achille Millien enlives the postcard “Spring IX – Forest House” with some verses about this uncommon official accommodation : « La maison est plaisante à l’œil. / Le pommier fleurit près du seuil ; / Le bois voisin lui fait de l’ombre / Lorsque Juillet embrase l’air ; / Et le forestier, en hiver / Las de trimer sous le ciel sombre, / Y trouve bon gîte et feu clair. »

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