The Valley of MiseryThe Valley of Misery
©The Valley of Misery|OTAM

Sensitive natural areas

Unmissable natural sites

The Sarthe region boasts a remarkable natural heritage: varied natural environments, rich in diverse, sometimes rare and protected flora and fauna. For nearly 30 years, the Sarthe department has been committed to protecting and enhancing this heritage, through the designation of 17 sites as Sensitive Natural Areas (Espaces Naturels Sensibles in french). Of these, 4 are in the Alpes Mancelles region: Coteau des Vignes in Fresnay-sur-Sarthe, Vallée de Misère in Saint-Léonard-des-Bois, Colline du Rocher in Ségrie and Mares et Fossés de Monthorin in Vernie.


The Coteau des Vignes

This site offers a fantastic view over the Sarthe Valley and the town of Fresnay-sur-Sarthe, Petite Cité de Caractère. This Mediterranean-style spot, managed by the commune of Fresnay-sur-Sarthe, is home to rare and uncommon plant species specific to limestone lawns and meadows. You can discover it by taking the educational trail from the town hall or from the parking lot at the top of the hill. During your walk, you can meet the few animals (sheep, donkey) that live on this hill, in the middle of the vineyards.


The Vallée de Misère

Nested in the heart of the Alpes Mancelles, this steep-sided valley overlooked on either side by rocky bars and scree from the Quaternary Armorican sandstone, forms a very picturesque site of remarkable interest, not only geologically but also landscape-wise, unique in Pays de la Loire. Newly acquired in 2017 by the Sarthe department, this scree is made up of moorland, dry grassland and woodland, which is home to abundant and diverse pioneer vegetation (mosses and lichens), with several species rare in the region.

Other sites classified as Sensitive Natural AreasOnly open during nature events organized by the Conservatoire d'Espaces Naturels

La Colline du Rocher in Ségrie

It’s a hillock of limestone marl, located in the commune of Ségrie in northwestern Sarthe, covering more than 4 hectares. The site was once cultivated with vines. This original formation is home to a number of rare plant species, including a fine selection of orchids, including the largest station of Ophrys litigieuse in Sarthe. In terms of fauna, we note the presence of a protected butterfly, the Azuré du serpolet. The site is maintained by sheep grazing, organized in partnership with Ferme des brebis Allais.

This site is open to the public only during nature events organized by the Conservatoire d’Espaces Naturels (CEN) des Pays de la Loire. Discover their agenda by clicking on the link below.

Mares et fossés de Monthorin à Vernie

This network of ponds and ditches set in a bocage landscape is home to a metapopulation of a very rare small toad, the yellow-bellied toad. Some of the sites are located in areas managed by livestock farming. The hills and valley bottoms retain traditional farming activities (mowing and grazing), with a few wooded areas on the summits. The communes of Vernie, Ségrie and Douillet-le-Joly are the last communes in western France where this toad is present, so the protection of this species and its habitat is a major issue.

This site is only open to the public during nature events organized by the Conservatoire d’Espaces Naturels (CEN) des Pays de la Loire. Discover their agenda by clicking on the link below.