Mont Bernanche. Maison de la Nature Geotopia: feet on the ground, head in the stars

Several hands-on workshops are offered at the Maison de la Nature in Mont-Bernachon, Geotopia. Here are linen dolls. (© Northern Cross)

As Lille’s residents walk the utopia, nature lovers can – more discreetly – gather Geotopia, a few kilometers from Béthune, in Mont-Bernachon (Pas-de-Calais) About the Nature Festival. this is Nature House, born 2008 propose to Many animations In an exceptional place. Overview of this unusual place with a promising future.

Nature Festival

As early as 2006, the idea of ​​organizing a “Festival of Nature” like many others (for music, mothers and neighbors) was launched by the French Committee of the IUCN (“International Union for the Conservation of Nature”) and the magazine wild.

This initiative aims to unite the private and public structures that deal with this urgent and “delicate” topic in France, the country championship for carousels, wetland removal, concrete, distillation … for most of the 36,000 municipalities.

Green Earth Friends

Nature Festival May 2022? Several days of free events to allow all audiences to experience an educational connection with the environments that have remained natural.

Garden and Astronomical Observatory of Geotopia.
Garden and Astronomical Observatory of Geotopia. (© Northern Cross)

Geotopia is the name of the Maison de la Nature in Mont-Bernanchon, a semi-rural town awash in Clarence and the broad-gauge canal from Aire to La Bassée. This site organizes workshops, events, evenings, etc. all year round for young and old.

It was the elected representatives of the sector’s agglomeration community, accredited since 2017 “Béthune-Bruay-Artois-Lys romane” (comprising 100 municipalities) who created this public heritage (one million euros) expressly dedicated to “environmental pedagogy”.

Since 2008

This nature house, opened since the spring of 2008 in Pas-de-Calais, is neither a museum nor a school but a place of information, exchanges and initiation, aimed at promoting eco-citizen behavior: a broad program!

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Porcelain flower workshop for young artists in Jyotopia.
Porcelain flower workshop for young artists in Jyotopia. (© Northern Cross)

Four animators take care of the maintenance of this 3,000 square meter site around three high-quality buildings including an administrative office with a documentation room.

Entrance…by boat

But the main ship looks like a ship in custody on the banks of a tree-lined canal, near a pier that allows you to reach Geotopia by boat. This biochemical building is built with all glass on stilts, with timber frames, rainwater recovery, geothermal, and photovoltaic panels.

Four centers of activity: heaven, life, earth, water. sky watch (including a small weather station); discovery of biodiversity (human influence on the environment, “remedial” aspects of environmental problems); geology (eg issues related to overuse of soil); The water cycle (its quality, scarcity, sanitation, etc.).

At La Maison de la Nature located in Mont-Bernachon near Béthune, workshops are organized regularly.
At La Maison de la Nature located in Mont-Bernachon near Béthune, workshops are organized regularly. (© Northern Cross)


In the three rooms, the workshops are full. To make “porcelain” flowers, children’s and parents’ hands knead and slip the slip. Beekeepers reveal the secrets of pollinators.

Two decorations show the stages of linen work and the qualities of this weaving mill, which has become popular again. Everywhere, puddles were dug: water lilies, reeds and irises immediately colonized them. Animators praise aquatic insects: larvae of dragonfly or beetles, notonectes, gerris, nepes, etc. It evokes many passing birds (storks, goldfinches, woodpeckers, etc.).

Pas-de-Calais has owned a nature house since 2008, Geotopia.
Pas-de-Calais has owned a nature house since 2008, Geotopia. (© Northern Cross)

Unlock the seed bombs!

Go also and discover the vegetable gardens, orchards, and beehives, one of which has windows showing the tireless work of the workers inside. Another animator hit with hits with “seed bombs” (seedssee box), fun and useful tools in the midst of the current collapse of biodiversity on our planet.

Seed bomb recipe

Mix two volumes of clay with one volume of potting soil (or compost), mix everything with a little water to get balls the size of a pingpong ball. Insert some seeds into the center. Example: 3 sunflower seeds, or 15 borage seeds, honeysuckle, poppy, rudbeckia, sedum phone, Cosmos pepinatus, or green manure seeds like Phaselia, Synapis alba mustard … Close the ball, they are ready to go .

Environmental education and astronomy

Knowing how to make them and with what seeds, choosing where and how to throw them properly, and understanding why this kind of hard-nosed — and peaceful — gesture adds a little chance of a greener future. “Seed bombs” make it possible to cover places that are not easily accessible: arid lands, banks, dams, construction sites, tree bases, flat roofs, etc.

Surprises of the third building of Géotopia: an observatory with a real axial dome! The Astronomy Club and the municipality installed a professional telescope (focal length 3 m, diameter 300 mm) in a flowery meadow.

Visitors can observe (and photograph) sunspots and prominences of the solar disk, Saturn’s rings, learn about the life cycle of stars, and our small galaxy in the expanding universe…

Jean-Louis Bellon

When: Saturday 4 June 2022 Free visit to the park and a workshop to create mud shelters to help small animals in the park, from 2 pm to 6 pm (free of charge). Friday 3rd & 24th June: Skywatch 10:30pm Duration 2 hours (free with reservation, child from 8 years old).
Wednesday, June 1: Little Animals from the Pond (Free). Wednesday, June 8: Young Beekeepers. Wednesday 15 June: Father goupil. Wednesday, June 22: The life of a bee. Wednesday, June 29: Willow Face (2pm only). Wednesdays 10am or 2pm, workshop duration 1:30. A child from 6 years old accompanied by an adult. Price: 10 EUR / family (minimum 4 people) or 3 EUR / per person. Or free with an annual pass. Reservation.

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