The Chêne à l’Image: a walk in the heart of the Bois de Petithan

Chemin de la promenade vers le chêne à l'image, dans le bois de Petithan

Brief description

This walk takes you through the woods of Petit-Han; most of the trees are oak and hornbeam, a combination which works well together. At the right time of year, there are many mushrooms there.



This walk takes you mainly through the heart of a forest largely of oak. With its imposing appearance (it can reach 40 metres high and 7 metres in girth) and exceptional longevity (over 1,000 years), the oak was considered a sacred tree, the king of the forest.
The Greeks regarded it as the link between heaven and earth, and the Germans believed that it held up the vault of heaven. The builders of the Middle Ages discovered the virtues of its wood, which is hard, rigid and durable, yet easy to work with. It could be used to build houses, bridges, mills, ships and much else.


The diversity of the forest flora is noticeable, and this wood is an ideal place to come across many types of mushrooms.

In particular, there are various specious of boletus, including the famous cèpe de Bordeaux (Boletus edulis). This mushroom, which has been popular since Roman times, is one of the most widely consumed species in Europe. Its cap is coffee-brown, and slimy in damp weather. A delicate white network is visible on its stem, with its swollen base. The cèpe de Bordeaux can be found from June to November.

Chanterelles (Cantharellus cibarius) are excellent mushrooms which grow alongside paths (preferably under conifers) from June to November. They have a yellowish, funnel-shaped cap 2 to 8 cm wide and are characterised by the wrinkled veins (not gills) under the orange cap. Their flesh is yellowish-white or light yellow and soft, with a fruity taste.

The hedgehog fungus (Hydnum repandum) has a fast-growing cap of 3 to 20 cm, very irregular in shape and of a uniform light yellow, beige or whitish colour; the underside of the cap is formed of very dense white spines which are easy to separate from the flesh. The stem is short and irregular. The flesh is white, firm and brittle. The chanterelle is found on common soils, under conifers and deciduous trees, from August to December.

And finally, the Chêne à l’Image!

Don’t miss the Chêne à l’Image (‘statue oak’), an oak tree with a little shrine at its foot. Votive offerings have been left here by the people of Grand-Han and Petit-Han since time immemorial. This tree is said to have survived a fire, and is the oldest in the area. People used to make a point of walking there; for a long time it was then inaccessible because the path was completely closed, but it now receives many visitors once again.


Practical information

Start : Petit – Han (football ground)
Waymarker: red diamond
Distance: 6.5 km
Approximate duration: 2 hours
Level of difficulty: easy
Distinctive features: forest – boots essential in wet weather

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