Surroundings: always different, always beautiful

If you drive south at Chalon-sûr Saone, you will see the landscape change. The sky clears and you see houses with soft, warm colors. You feel the transition from north to south. Pastures with Charolais cows bordered by green hedges, swaying corn fields, tempting vineyards and mysterious forest alternate. Traditional farms, pleasant villages, Romanesque churches, meanderings of the Loire and straight lines of the Canal de Roanne à Digion: they are spread over this area like a patchwork quilt. There are so many nice activities en and sights to discover that we list here some ideas. To get into the holiday mood!


4 km from Estefana you will find the town of Marcigny with shops, supermarkets and terraces. This town developed around the women’s monastery that was built here in the 11th century. Remains of it can still be seen, such as the Saint-Nicolas church, La tour du Moulin, old houses, mansions, and the hotel de ville, built in the 18th century. An attraction is the weekly market on Monday morning, which attracts everyone from the region. The market lasts until about 12 noon and offers everything: vegetables, fruit, meat, cheese, spices, textiles and of course the animal market. There are large stalls, but also farmers with a few eggs and vegetables from their own vegetable garden.


The rolling environment of Estefana is suitable for the sporty cyclist or for the recreational cyclist with electric assistance. Various cycling routes have been set out in the proximity (also for mountain bike), varying in difficulty and length (6 to 45 km). Contact us for a tailor-made route. 4 km from the campsite, the Voie Verte runs near Marcigny, a flat, asphalted route built on a former railway near the Loire. This is a great starting point to explore the hilly area with villages and churches on both sides of the Loire. There is enough variety to make varied cycling trips over several days.


Recreational park Loge des gardes – Laprunge
A green and wooded park full of summer sports activities for children up to the age of 11: climbing, sliding and jumping, it’s all possible here. Here you will find zip lines, small quad bikes, slides and a scooter course. If that’s not enough, take the 350 meter long “pneumatic tire” track, with banked bends that winds between the trees. In between you can enjoy beautiful views of the Monts de Madeleine.

Amusement park / Zoo Le Pal – Dompierre-sur-Bresbe
An amusement park and zoo in one. Due to the wide variety, it is suitable for both younger and older children. On 50 hectares you will find four roller coasters, four water attractions, dozens of other smaller attractions, playgrounds and 1000 different animals. In the park live ‘real’ zoo animals such as crocodiles, elephants, giraffes, lions, tigers, penguins and chimpanzees. Young animals are regularly born and can also be viewed.

Climbing forest Cimes Aventure – Saint-bonnet-des-quarts
Swing through the trees like a monkey, soar through the air like a bird on one of the two 120-meter-long ziplines, or take the zip line that you can ‘cycle’! There are several courses, so you can certainly spend a whole afternoon here. There is an adapted course for children aged 6 years and over and 1.10 meters tall. You can do all courses from a height of 1.40 meters.

Karting Alcava – Gueugnon
Discover this karting track of 740 meters in length. Three types of karting are possible: 270 cm3 for adults, fun kart for children aged 7-13 years, and quads for children aged 7-14 years. The track has electronic timing with live display on a large screen. Spectators can sit on the terrace overlooking the circuit. Advance booking required.

Swimming pools – Marcigny / Roanne
In the months of June, July and August, Marcigny has its own heated outdoor swimming pool with paddling pool and sunbathing lawn (temperature at least 26 degrees). Outside this period and when the weather is bad, we recommend the Le Nauticum swimming pool in Roanne. Here is a large indoor pool with a slide and rapids. In the summer months there are also various slides available at the outdoor pool. Please note: swimming cap and tight swimming trunks are mandatory at the swimming pool in Roanne.


Fed with rainwater, the Loire is turbulent in some seasons. On the other hand, the natural course of the river provides beautiful beaches where you can enjoy a picnic on this last and longest (1012 km) unspoilt river in France. These places are easiest to find by canoe or kayak, other shipping traffic is not possible here. In the summer the river is low and you can swim along the way. There are several routes and no experience is required as you are sailing downstream. Ask us about the possibilities.

Canal de Roanne à Digion
This canal runs parallel to the Loire and was built in the period 1827-1838 to enable inland navigation from Digoin to Roanne. It is 55 kilometers long and has 10 locks to bridge the height difference of 37.27 meters. It was once intended to continue the canal and connect it to the Rhône via the Givors Canal. This never happened because other means of transport became commonplace. Now it is a quiet canal for recreational boating. In Digoin you can take a boat trip on this canal, possibly accompanied by lunch. You can also rent a boat yourself to discover the canal, without a sailing license.

Cascade de Pisserotte – Arfeuilles
These beautiful waterfalls are located just below Arfeuilles. The legend is that here was an unfathomably deep canyon. Anyone who looked into it disappeared into the depths. The villagers tried to fill the canyon with boulders, but it vomited everything up again, creating a waterfall. You can enjoy a nice picnic and you can bathe in the quiet parts. Nice starting point for a walk. The GR3 (part of the pilgrimage route to Santiago de la Compostela) passes close by.

Reservoirs – Renaisson
Two reservoirs lie together here: Barrage de Rouchain and Barrage de la Tache (or du Chartrain), which supply the Roanne region with drinking water. The last one is the oldest (1888-1891) and has a reservoir of 3.6 million m3. At the edge of this arch dam (towards St. Rirand) stands a 66 m tall Douglas fir, one of the tallest trees in France. The barrage de Rouchain is a gravity dam from 1976 with a volume of 6.5 million m3. You can walk around and on the dams and visit the nearby Maison de l’Eau. Water sports are not allowed.

To walk

More than 80 routes have been described in the neighbourhood of Marcigny. You can select by location and length via this website with walking routes. You can download the map as a pdf.

Forêt de Lespinasse – Vivans
Beautiful oak forest (455 ha) full of history. Julius Ceasar wrote about a skirmish between the legions of Arvernes and Aspinassia in the Texonnaria Valley, the predecessor of this forest. Various routes (hiking or mountain bike) are indicated. There is also a walk for the disabled / buggies. There are also pools where you can fish (with a permit!) and nice picnic areas. Also visit the Le Grand Couvert visitor center in Vivans to learn all about this forest.

Forêt domaniale des Charmays – Semur-en-Brionnais
Very old forest with a mystical charge. From the Chapelle Notre-Dame de La Touche you go up to an alleged medicinal spring. The story goes that a woman drank from the well and was unharmed after being run over by a cart. Out of gratitude, she placed a statue of the Virgin Mary at the well. Turn right and the pine forest gives way to oak thickets. Here you will see ancient rock formations, mysterious huts and meet escaped sheep from the farm on the edge of the forest. The nearby hamlet of Montmegin is said to have been home to druids.

Belvédère de Mont Rigaud – Deux Grosnes
Beautiful forest area to cool down on hot days. From the car park you can walk 650 m directly to a wooden observation tower, where you can see Mont Blanc when the weather is good. Along the way you will come across a mysterious source surrounded by numerous wooden crosses. The story goes that a monk with healing powers lived there. When he died, his tomb was placed in the spring, giving the water magical properties. The water is said to increase female fertility. If you are looking for more of a challenge, a 15 km walk starts from Maison de la Randonnée et du Trail in Col de Crie and also passes the wooden tower.


This pilgrimage site is dedicated to the worship of the Sacred Heart. In the 17th century, the nun Marguerite-Marie is said to have had a vision of Christ pointing to his heart, in reference to his suffering and redemption. Now she has been canonized and lies in the Chapelle de la Visitation, where she also got her vision. Numerous religious communities are located here, allowing you to experience a serene tranquility in the city center. The Basilique du Sacré-Coeur is the most imposing church and outdoor masses are given in the adjacent Parc des Chapelains.

Gastronomy, art and pleasure boating, these are the key concepts here. Located on the Loire and as the starting point of the Canal de Roanne à Digoin, you can stroll along the marina and the quays and walk back along the Loire on the other side. For culture, visit the Joseph Déchelette Museum with collections of archeology and art and wander past the Parisian buildings. In terms of gastronomy, the city owes its fame to the Troisgros brothers, who received 3 Michelin stars. If it could be a bit simpler, you will find a park, playground and terraces next to the train station.

Home to the monastic order of Cluny, founded in 910. Until the construction of St. Peter’s in Rome (1506), the abbey church of Cluny was the largest religious building in Europe. Thanks to strict monastic discipline and charity, the order gained a lot of followers and became a place of pilgrimage for pilgrims to Santiago de Compostela. Even if you don’t care much about religion, Cluny is worth a visit. Go to the Haras National horse stud farm and visit the stables, visit a horse show or climb into the saddle yourself and follow one of the equestrian routes in the area.

The spa town of Vichy, indeed of the famous ointments, was the place to be in the 19th century with a casino, hotels, and of course the hot springs. Now you can still stroll through the center, along avenues with Art Nouveau style facades and through beautiful parks. Don’t miss the springs and tap a bottle of water to taste the tantalizing, slightly salty water. Buy some Vichy pastilles as a souvenir, these sweets are made with mineral salts from the spring water. The cozy lounge terraces along the Allier are recommended, there is also a large playground there.


This village is on the list of ‘most beautiful villages in France’. Here you can view one of the oldest castles in Burgundy, the first foundations date from the late 10th century. Stroll through this lovely village with a beautiful church and a monastery. At the monastery there is a shop with craft products. You can walk behind the city walls for a nice view and also visit the ‘Grenier au sel’. The hated salt tax, one of the reasons for the French Revolution, was stored in this ‘tax office’, today it is a gallery.

Le Crozet
Good times mingle with forgotten times in this lovingly restored stronghold that immerses you in rich history with its flowery facades and squares. It was once surrounded by walls with towers and drawbridges, and today you can still find remains of it, such as the castle tower that you can climb. Be surprised by the half-timbered houses from the 12th century and the Renaissance buildings from the 16th century and visit the Museum of Folk Art and Traditions with reconstructions of old workshops and plenty of information about the history of this beautiful village.

In Charlieu you can wander through narrow streets and marvel at beautiful half-timbered facades. Don’t miss a visit to the Benedictine Abbey. View the ancient foundations dating back to 872, admire the sacred works of art and climb to the ridge of the ‘Église Abbatiale Saint-Fortuné’ for the view. You will also find a beautiful cloister there. This cloister was bought by Americans in the 20th century and was going to be dismantled. The French state put a stop to this and the ‘Couvent des Cordeliers’ can still be visited.

La Benisson-Dieu
The highlight of this village is the large abbey with a very beautiful roof, which was founded in 1138 by followers of Saint Bernard. It is estimated that at its peak the abbey had approximately 5000 monks who resided either in the abbey itself or in one of its numerous outbuildings in the region. After the French Revolution all the monks disappeared. The buildings were sold and served as quarries. A few years later the church was bought by the villagers to become a parish church. From that basis, more and more restorations have been carried out to the allure of today.

La Clayette
Nice village built around a moated castle from the 13th century. The castle has evolved into a castle surrounded by moats and a large pond in which the Gothic turrets are beautifully reflected. The pond is full of large carp that the French like to fish for. There are several pleasant terraces around the castle. The castle is privately owned, but certain parts can be visited a few times a week, such as the Paray Tower, which has towered over everything since the 15th century, the stables, the medieval kitchen, the chapel and other outbuildings of the castle.

St. Haon-le-Chatel
The walls and streets whisper history. Located on a rock at the foot of the Monts de la Madeleine, this village has preserved many architectural treasures, such as the ramparts, round towers, country houses and picturesque houses. With a little imagination you can feel the soul of those who have walked the streets here over the centuries. See the charming Romanesque church with a very old cemetery at the top of the hill, the beautiful facades of the Pelletier mansion, the house with the sundial and the medieval garden with plants and vegetables from yesteryear.