Pays de Bray

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The Pays de Bray is a small (about 750 km²) natural region of France situated to the north-east of Rouen, straddling the French départements of the Seine-Maritime and Oise (historically divided among the Provinces of Normandy and Picardy since 911, hence divided among the official regions of Haute-Normandie and Picardie). The landscape is of bocage, a land use which arises from its clay soil; suited to the development of pasture for the raising of dairy cattle. It produces famous butters and cheeses such as Neuchâtel.


Etymologically, the name of Bray comes from a Gaulish word braco > Old French Bray marsh, swamp or mud. It appears to be so named as the soil distinguishes it from the neighbouring Pays de Caux; the one of sticky clay, the other on dry, firm chalk.


Viewed geologically, the Pays de Bray is a relatively small eroded anticline along the Bray fault, breaking through rocks on the fringe of the Parisian Basin. The latter forming the chalk plateaus around it. It is a small version of the Weald of Kent and Sussex but reveals the beds more deeply; down to the Upper Jurassic clay.

To the north is the Upper Cretaceous plateau of Picardy with the Pays de Caux to the west and the Vexin to the south-east. The erosion has exposed clay beds in an elliptically-shaped region which is called the buttonhole of the Pays de Bray. A "boutonnière" (buttonhole), in French geological language, is an...
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