AND NOW for something completely different. If the thought of spending a special night in a tree house takes your fancy, then I suggest you head to you Magné.

DSC_5513Situated in the department of Vienne, close to the attractive town of Poitiers, Parc de la Belle is set in twelve hectares of forest on the banks of the River Belle, accompanied by a wealth of flora and shrubbery.

DSC_5533The park lies in the grounds of a magnificent 19th century bourgeois residence, complete with renovated baking oven, greenhouse, washhouse, lord of the manor’s quarters, priest’s garden, and ornamental vegetable garden. There is also a large play area and a little petting farm for children.

DSC_5514Visitors can either come for the day and wander the many paths lined with ancient trees and over 20,000 different plants, or stay overnight in one of the fifteen tree houses which are dotted discreetly throughout the forest.

DSC_5517First constructed in 2008, the trees houses are suspended between four and fourteen metres above ground, with access via winding wooden staircases or monkey bridges. There are dry toilets, and no running water or electricity, so this is as back to nature as you could wish for. Washing facilities, including a shower, are available in the manor house.

DSC_5529It is possible to stay all-year round, although you may need warm slippers and a heavy duvet over the winter period. Depending on how many people are staying overnight, a tree house for a couple costs 99 euros, and 160 euros for up to six people. Day visitors may visit from May to September, at a cost of 3 euros per person.

DSC_5511If you fancy breakfast, it is delivered to your tree house via a wicker basket, which you haul up by rope attachment. Should that not appeal, there is a fast-food restaurant and small shop at the park entrance.

DSC_5510You could always do your entertaining in the Kota Grill, a Finnish-style wooden construction with interior fire pit and surround seating area. This barbecue facility is set in the midst of an attractive rose garden.

DSC_5520The park has also been busy constructing some new lodges which can accommodate between four and six people. These come complete with water, electricity, showers and toilet, and are perfect for a stay of a week, at a cost of around 500-600 euros in this very special environment.

DSC_5524If you enjoy the sound of birdsong in the mornings, and are not put off my creepy-crawlies and things that scurry in the night, then this could be your home from home. I recommend you try it.


Rue Anatole de Briey, 86160 Mang´, FRance

Tel: 05 49 87 80 86



  • All images © Essential Journeys/Michael Cowton
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