The trail through the woods.
The site just looks like any other smallish field of unimproved pasture at this time of year. It's been mowed for hay and is uniformly shortish green grass. The excellent info board tells you what the real story is though. This is genuine pelouse ie flower rich grassland on calcareous soil. Most importantly, this is pelouse sèche (dry, usually calcareous, grassland), with very shallow topsoil on a south facing site. Although we in the central Loire Valley take this habitat a little bit for granted, in global terms it is one of the rarest and most threatened. A number of the plants which thrive here will grow in no other habitat. This site is home to nearly 15 species of orchids and the very rare Wild Paeony. Of course, where you get a very particular plant assemblage, you also get a very specialised set of insects too.
Tar Spot Rhytisma punctatum (a fungus) on fallen Sycamore Acer pseudoplatanus leaves lining the trail.
The info board also points out that the term pelouse is used rather loosely by most people, and that what you mow in your backyard should more properly be called gazon (lawn). That's because the plant assemblage, underlying soil and aspect is usually nothing like genuine pelouse, even though they both may look like an expanse of short mown grass. The board also mentions that mowing your lawn (tonte) is different to cutting your pelouse (fauchage). In fact, it is that very regular and close mowing that turns a pelouse into a gazon. Pelouse is only mowed once a year, in the late summer or autumn.
As well as all this good natural history information, we also learnt a new word - vergogne. The board tells us that the plants are rare and threatened -- à ne pas cueillir mais à photographier sans vergogne -- 'not for picking, but photograph without qualms'.
Derrière la Queue du Renard nature reserve in late October - you might never guess what treasures it is nuturing now, to show off in spring.
What people mostly come to Angles to see -- the ruined medieval castle on the falaise (cliff).