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Lac du Der from the dyke on the western bank (May 2013) [© Steve Marshall/Wild Future Photo]

Lac du Der-Chantecoq

Set amidst woodland and pasture, Lac du Der-Chantecoq - the largest artificial lake in Europe at 4,800 hectares - is a super spot for birds, wildlife and recreation, and has become a star attraction for the thousands of Common Cranes that pass through on migration each autumn, with some staying to winter.

Together with the Foret d'Orient Lakes, Lac du Der has become probably the best known birdwatching spot in northern France. Whilst traditionally a site visited in autumn to spring for the cranes, overwintering waterfowl and woodpeckers, the growth of tourism has brought improved facilities and summer recreational pursuits to complement the wildlife watching and is attracting more people each year. The beautiful forests, lakeside views, "beach" areas and watersports give many options for the summer visitor.

We have visited the area several times since 2009 in the production of this guide (don't forget to read our trip reports). Whilst Foret d'Orient is perhaps a more intimate landscape and Der can be be a little more bleak in winter, the scale of the lake and landscape has to be seen to be believed - it's more than three times the size of Lake Windermere - and there is something of interest along every part of its shore. Our trips have often included 2-3 days here and then the remainder of the week in Foret d'Orient and Troyes which is just 35 miles (57km) to the south west.

Use the links to the detailed pages in the left hand column or the WildMap below to explore the highlights of the region.


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