Crypte de l'église abbatiale de Saint-Benoît-sur-Loire Crypt of the abbey church of Saint-Benoît-sur-LoireForêt d'Orléans Forest of OrléansGabare sur la Loire Abbatiale romane de St-Benoît-sur-Loire Romanesque abbey church in St-Benoît-sur-LoireOratoire carolingien de Germigny-des-Prés Carolingian oratory of Germigny-des-Présclocher de l'abbatiale de Saint-Benoît-sur-Loire Tower of the Abbey church of Saint-Benoît-sur-LoireMosaïque (détail) de Germigny-des-Prés Mosaic (detail) in Germigny-des-PrésOratoire carolingien et tamaris

A peaceful haven for wildlife

The Ile des Mahyses is a sand deposit covering 27 hectares, running along the curves of the Loire. It stretches from the hamlet of Les Prouteaux to St-Benoît harbour. It is covered with forests including black locust trees, pines and oaks in the upstream part ; and grassland and prairies in the downstream part.
The Ile des Mahyses is a real island, separated from the freeboards by a channel called the Riot des Mahyses. Filled with water all year round, this arm of the Loire flows freely across the sand, creating banks and cliffs here and there. The channel makes the island inaccessible to walkers, which guarantees a peaceful atmosphere for the wildlife.
The freeboards of the site are easily accessible, however.
The island itself can be visited on a guided tour only.

castor d'Europe

Development of the Loire riverbed

The discovery of a series of stakes driven into the top of the island leads us to believe that the Ile des Mahyses formed as a result of this development. This barrier running diagonally to the Loire is thought to have caused sand to be deposited in the counter-current. The island would then have become elongated, creating a new arm of the Loire : the Riot des Mahyses. This channel may have been useful to the navy or the fishing industry.
The island first appeared on a map in the second half of the 18th century. It was made up of two parts in 1835. In 1944, the Riot des Mahyses was sanded up and was only filled with water during floods. The obstacles left behind by the quarrying company, which prevented the water from flowing freely, were cleared in 1996, and the channel is once more connected to the Loire.

carte de l'aménagement du lit de la Loire

Protecting the Ile des Mahis

The Ile des Mahyses, formerly owned by the church, was sold to a rich farmer from St-Benoît following the French Revolution. It is now the property of his heirs, who appointed the Conservatory to provide protection and environmental management of this outstanding preserved site in the Loire. While the landscape may seem natural today, many “scars on the landscape” provide a reminder of the period of intensive sand extraction during the second half of the 20th century, which ended in 1993 when the government prohibited extraction in the river bed.
To make the site more hospitable to wild plants and animals, the Conservatory set out a number of activities to implement in its management plan for 2007-2012.

pelouse sur l'île des Mahis

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