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Playing life-size in the forest

A succession of clearings and thickets, between rustling and crackling, the forests look naturally cinematic. In the state forest of Saint-Michel, on the Franco-Belgian border, French and European history is present in the landscape with the remains of some forty blockhouses, known as the “star”. Built in 1936, these bunkers belong to the Maginot Line and have remained mostly unfinished. The fauna and flora have since reclaimed their rights, so much so that blockhouses and anti-tank ditches are now mixed with the vegetation.

This is not the only particularity of this forest whose varied landscapes could inspire more than one scenario. A highly diversified mosaic of natural environments makes up these woods: alders, ashes, maples, wild cherries, hornbeams, birches, rowan trees, beeches, oaks, and spruces offer a play of light that changes with the hours and the seasons.

Under the foliage of the Thiérache, two rivers, the Gland and the Artoise, cross the forest. The Artoise has its source in Belgium and carries clear, pure water which earned it the European Wild River label in 2016.

Identity sheet


More than 3,000 hectares of hilly nature


Varied spaces: spruce trees, large oak trees, bridges, waterways and vestiges of the World Wars (bunkers, war memorials, Maginot line...)


At La fontaine à l'Argent (about ten places), at the Charme Baudet roundabout (5 places), at the Watigny roundabout (5 places)


02830 Saint-Michel


About 3 hrs from Paris
About 2 hrs from Lille
About 2,20 hrs from Brussels


Nearest railway station: Hirson

Accommodation nearby

Bed and breakfast in the Saint-Michel Abbey, a campsite in the commune of Hirson, on the edge of the forest