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Climate & Geology of the Morvan

The Formation of the Massif

Granite Outcrop Morvan Burgundy France
Rose Coloured Granite

For 600 million years the land has been evolving it is believed. The huge thrusts in the earth came first with the Hercynian fold when a granite platform was formed, and a thick layer of magma covered the area. In the lush basins around the periphery coal seams developed, notably at Autun and Blanzy.

A long period of erosion followed, then the sea covered the whole area depositing sediments of marl and limestone. This Jurassic period is named after the Jura region next to Burgundy where the deposits where enormous.

Then came another huge eruption where the Alps were formed with a tsunami effect as the earth shook. Through millions more years of erosion, it was about 2 million years ago that the Morvan came into being as we know it today. The resulting granite is a mix of grey and attractive rose coloured flecks.

It falls into three main areas. The two predominantly granite areas are in the south which is the mountainous part rising to 900m above sea level, and the hilly region of the Morvan in the centre, around 600m, thickly forested and the source of rivers and numerous lakes. Then there are the gentle lowlands in the north and east at 300m from below Vézelay across to Saulieu, where granite gives way to limestone deposits.

Climate of the Morvan

Spring green is welcomed in the Morvan after the frost and snow of winter. Summers are long and hot, the hay is harvested, and it is an outdoor life. Autumn is glorious as the beech, ash and oak turn colour.

The western flank of the Morvan is subject to Atlantic influences and the rainfall associated with this aspect. The highest rainfall occurs around Mount Beuvray and Château Chinon, with the lowest around Vézelay and Saulieu.

On the eastern side, the Continental influence is pronounced with cold winters and hot summers. Snow can make some of the central areas inaccessible in winter with temperatures of -8C rising in summer to 28–30C.

The Morvan through the seasons
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