Blois, Territory in the Heart of the Loire Valley, Registered in UNESCO’s World Heritage List
For more than two millennia, the Loire valley has been the scene of harmonious development and fruitful interaction between humans and their environment. That is the analysis of UNESCO, which in 2000 had it inscribed in the World Heritage List, thereby recognizing its exceptional, universal value.
Further information, thanks to Mission Val de Loire
As a historic axis of commerce and communication, the Loire has fashioned the territory. Built on the two banks of the river, Blois offers immersive views of its whimsical currents, its majestic reflections and its profuse ecosystem with its rodents, birds, scaly reptiles, fish, amphibians and insects.
Information (in French only) thanks to l’Observatoire Loire
Surrounding Blois, “Blaisois” is a territory at the crossroads of different natural regions. Heathlands and forests, ponds and rivers, dry grasslands and wet marshlands, large-scale cereal and vegetable crops between the Loire and the Cher epitomize the geological diversity of the regions.
Blois, Town of Trees and History, a “Four-Flower” town
With its nearby large park and lush forest, Blois is fortunate enough to be surrounded by immense “green lungs”, air purifiers and natural climate regulators. In the west, the forest of Blois is one of the most beautiful oakwood areas in France. In the north, a park (l’Arrou) and a lake (la Pinçonnière) cover 45 hectares (110+ acres). In the east, another park (Mées) offers an ideal setting bordering the Loire. And finally, in the south, the forest of Russy completes the tour of the surroundings of the town.
Blois also features ten large gardens, squares, a rosery and a port (la Creusille). The entire town is amply vegetated; Blois contains nearly 15,000 m² of flowers, which lighten urban space by their interplay of colors, volumes and textures, and 14,300 isolated trees (1 for every 3.2 persons) of 70 different families, including 33 remarkable trees bearing seeming witness to the past.
Awarded to Blois every year since 1997, the Ville fleurie (floral town) label represents a commendation of Blois’ overall revegetation policies, with a maximum “four-flower” rating. Blois has also received the special prize for heritage showcasing, prize bestowed by the “historic monuments” subdivision of the French culture ministry, for its “highly creative and harmonious floral and landscaped support, in keeping with the historical context proper to the site, in accessible and free public space”.
Biodiversity: The Commitment made by Blois
To preserve its exceptional natural environment and because it is in the interest of each and every one of us, the town is currently drawing up a biodiversity plan favoring plant and animal life in Blois. New concrete actions will be imagined, supplementing those that already exist, which will be reinforced.
It has been amply demonstrated that for the environment and for humans, pesticides are dangerous products. Since 2008, before any legal obligations had come into force, the town of Blois has been striving to have them eliminated. By 2011, the objective had been reached in virtually all public space. The last remaining spaces, the cemeteries, are presently undergoing conversion, with full involvement of the public.
Originally earmarked for pesticide eradication, the yearly budget of 70,000 to 100,000 €, is now set aside for remuneration or professional reintegration of six to eight persons, who are tasked three times a year with clearing weeds from town streets in conjunction with the urban hygiene service.
Wild herbs constitute a sign of ecological wealth and are indispensable to the harmonious balance of our environment. We need to learn to live with them and avoid equating their presence with poor maintenance.
The “flowered sidewalks” operation encourages residents to seed and maintain plants without herbicides, in bins and at the foot of the walls in front of their homes. The areas needing weeding will be smaller, and the nearby streets will look better. More than 400 persons in neighborhoods throughout Blois have applied this simple and effective approach.
To avoid light pollution, which causes imbalance (particularly in animals residing near the Loire), since 2015 (except in economic activity zones) the town has suspended or limited public lighting from midnight to 4:30 A.M. When the initiative was launched, 70% of the population was favorable, and it has been shown to result in appreciable energy savings.
During the summer, sixty ewes take up quarters in different town neighborhoods. This initiative has proved its worth, enabling non-polluting lawn maintenance; moreover, it strongly favors social cohesion. Further information, in French only, on the Agglopolys website
From 15,000 to 70,000 bees are hosted in six beehives, which were previously to be found on the rooftop of the Abbé-Grégoire library, and now occupy the rooftop of the Hôtel d’Agglomération (conurbation offices). In addition to contributing to protection of the residing bees, the beehives enable scientific analysis of their behavior in an urban setting. Further information, in French only, on the Agglopolys website
Shelters for bats have been set up in the bishopric garden and the Brisebarre farm. They facilitate specialists’ inventories and observation by the general public on guided tours. Towers for swallows have likewise been installed at the Maurice-de-Saxe barracks and the water treatment plant.
Nature to Be Taught and Learned
To multiply its action, the town offers awareness-raising activities: In what concrete ways can citizens sustain biodiversity? The town provides support for partners implementing this type of approach.
The Town’s Initiatives
The Museum regularly organizes educational workshops and field trips to discover the region’s animals and their settings, the migratory birds, the trees of our forests…
Throughout the year the Brisebarre farm organizes numerous activities. On school trips, children can discover little critters inhabiting gardens, learn how to make an herbarium and know all there is to know about cucurbits. Around 200 classes are welcomed every year. For the general public, workshops show attendees how to create flower beds or a vegetable garden, to plant a tree, to care for their lawns, etc.
The town’s after-school activity teams regularly organize workshops or other children’s activities associated with the environment (garden or vegetable patch creation, for example).
Our Partners’ Initiatives
Since 1992, the Loire observatory (link in French) has been fostering environmental awareness and promoting the Loire valley by organizing events, workshops and exhibitions.
The observatory (observatoire, in French) proposes nature tourism, school visits and events propitious to exchange and sharing. Its main site, located on the right bank of the Loire, in the Mées park, offers a breathtaking view the river, an interactive exhibit, a documentation center, a gift shop, a picnic area and a bike rental service. On the left bank, its navigation hub features four traditional boats moored to the port known as La Creusille, for visitors’ circuits in the heart of Blois.
The association managing the observatory has been accredited by the French ministries of ecology youth and sports and national education. It is registered in the reference framework for high-quality environmental education of the Centre-Val de Loire region, is an adherent to the regional federation of Loire river houses, and is closely associated with the Val de Loire mission.
- On the banks of the Loire
- Situated on the “Loire à vélo” itinerary
- Five minutes from the center of Blois
- On-site parking
- Accessible to persons with reduced mobility
In the Vienne neighborhood, with the support of the town and Agglopolys, the Métairies collective has revived a 2.7 hectare (7-acre) tract. The project contains several initiatives: shared gardens open to residents, an educational garden, public entertainment and a market garden.
Aside from a number of exhibitions associated with greenery, each year in June the national “Rendez-vous aux jardins” (garden gathering) event takes place in Blois and provides an opportunity to discover the wealth and diversity of the town’s parks and gardens by means of guided tours, signposted strolls and practical workshops.
Environmentally Friendly Urban Development
The natural environment, the built cultural heritage and public spaces enrich one another. Fully aware of the asset it possesses, the town has showcased the riverbanks so that they can be better appreciated, from one season to the next.
On the left bank, the port known as La Croisille has been developed as a park and recreational area. It now hosts a riverside café (“guinguette”), with spectacles and other entertainment taking place over the summer. The port is also a meeting point for departures for discovery of the Loire by traditional boat (with the Loire observatory). Study for a project aimed at developing the right bank is now underway, in the frame work of the Action coeur de ville (town center action) campaign. To be implemented in collaboration with the ACVL (Loire – town center development), the project will be mainly dedicated to the Pierre-Sudreau mall and the Pierre Mendès-France promenade.
With 400 km (250 miles) of biking circuits and 500 km (310 miles) of footpaths, enjoyment of nature in Blois is child’s play.
Quality of the Air in Blois
In Blois, the quality of outdoor air is good; over the last eight years, the average Atmo index for the town has been 3 (“good”) on a 1-to-10 scale where a low score is synonymous with high quality. You can get an estimate of today’s and tomorrow’s Atmo index for Blois (links in French) and learn more about the town’s measurement station.