Au coeur des monts de Gy

The calcareous dry grasslands

The hills of the Monts de Gy cover an area of about 12 000 ha, that is 46.300 square miles, that is 120 km2. The Monts de Gy look like a forest, but they are sprinkled with "pelouses sèches" (that is "dry grasslands"). 28 of them are listed.

These limestone hills gave birth to a particular environment which is called "dry grasslands". First there were cleared of trees, then they became meadows, or cultures (e.g. vineyards). Eventually all was abandoned. As time went by, these lands were affected by the climate and a very particular type of soil was formed. It is rocky, pervious, superficial and very poor. Many different vegetal adapted themselves and have settled in this environment.

More than 150 species are thriving, one can name the common rockrose, the white stonecrop, the carline thistle, the common juniper and other much rarer plants such as wild orchids.

About orchids...

These make the best of a poor soil, of much light, of changes in the temperature and they thrive in the hills. Therefore from April till September about twenty species grow one after the other, to the rhythm of the seasons.

Moreover a dozen species of orchids grow in different kinds of soils, such as in the undergrowth, in wet meadows, or on the banks of roads. While walking around it is not rare to find an amazing red helleborine near a tree, a discreet bird's-nest orchid, or a spotted orchid.

If you wish to discover the world of wild orchids : the tourist office in Gy  organizes walks to discover them in May and June. 

In dry grasslands one can also find some particular animal species : they make the best of the different types of vegetation. For instance, one can find some rare birds, such as the woodlark, the European nightjar, the red-backed shrike. The rare beautiful western green lizard can be seen with much luck when it shelters here.

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