Published on 5 July 2022
Temps de lecture : 3 minutes
This unique visitor centre in the midst of nature and cultural heritage has been open since Saturday 2 July 2022.
The former Auberge des Dauphins has been transformed into the Saoû Forest Visitor Centre. This emblematic place, built by Maurice Burrus between 1928 and 1930, has undergone extensive renovation under the supervision of the Département Drôme. Its new vocation is to explain the environment; the forest and, more broadly, environmental education. This area of 2,355 hectares, with its great ecological wealth, attracts almost 120,000 visitors each year.
The Saoû forest, acquired by the department in 2003, is part of the Drôme network of Fragile Nature Sites (Espace Naturel Sensible: ENS). Auberge des Dauphins is a unique setting to showcase and discover this natural area.
As a place for exhibitions and cultural programmes as well as a space for relaxation and encounters, this visitor centre aims to arouse emotions, encourage reflection on the preservation of biodiversity and shed light on the infinitely complex relationship between man and his environment.
A combination of knowledge: a multidisciplinary place
Beyond scientific understanding, Auberge des Dauphins also aims to be a place of interpretation by inviting artists and designers to share their vision of the forest through temporary exhibitions and encounters.
In 2022, the works of photographers Sophie Hatier and Guillaume Bonnel will be on display in the temporary exhibition space. The two artists are inviting the public to share their personal vision of the Saoû massif and, each in their own way, to reflect on the relationship between man and his environment.
The permanent exhibition: ‘Secrets of the forest’
The Auberge des Dauphins is a good gateway to the Forêt de Saoû and is the ideal place to discover the natural site and get answers to the following questions:
– What is a syncline?
A syncline is an exceptional geological phenomenon.
– What are the natural environments in the forest?
In this emblematic and pristine environment, 9 living environments are represented.
– What is man’s place in this area?
Saoû Forest is a natural environment shaped by its inhabitants.
– How is the forest managed?
Saoû Forest, owned by the department of Drôme, is managed as an Espace Naturel Sensible (ENS): Fragile Nature Sites.
– Its purpose?
To preserve this exceptional heritage in a sustainable way while improving its openness and accessibility to the public.
The exhibition concludes on the ground floor with the cabinet of curiosities and the office of the “eco-foresters”; a final step before going on a discovery tour of the forest. The tour would not be complete without a chapter dedicated to Maurice Burrus, the creator of the Auberge. A reconstructed dining room, an audio tour and digital information honour this pioneer of green tourism.
To complement the exhibitions, there is a cultural and scientific programme with regular events throughout the season (Fête de la Nature, European Heritage Days, forest walks, workshops…), also targeting children and families.
– July, August: Tuesday to Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
– September: Wednesday to Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
– October: Wednesday, Saturday, Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
– Full rate: €5
– Reduced rate: €4
– Free: children under 6, Family package (2 adults, 2 children): €15 (+ €2 per additional child)