There are no high mountains here only hills, the last foothills of the Massif Armoricain but steep cliffs nonetheless like Roche d’Oëtre. « Suisse Normande » does not easily open up to just anybody. Many people do not waste time and go around it along the autoroute from Caën or via Falaise and the A88.
« Suisse Normande » requires effort ! You have to take smaller roads then turn off along country lanes which wind between villages.
For several years, three signposted tourist routes have taken drivers under their wing and led them through beautiful countryside which does not appear to have changed for hundreds of years. One of the routes runs through Calvados then into Orne to Ménil Jean, near Putanges le Lac, where it joins the Route des Méandres de L’Orne which comes from Ecouché.
Ecouché is a character village to explore on foot through narrow little streets to admire its « houses with turrets » and bright, listed Gothic church with its huge stained-glass windows.
The Route des Méandres is a very apt name for this road which follows the winding river up and down the hills ! The countryside is dotted with curiosities : here a hilltop church surrounded by woodland, there an old quarry where reptiles sun themselves on the red rocks, here a bridge and a mill, there the tall roofs of a château peeping out above the treetops. Peace and tranquillity reign. A pair of buzzards glide on the rising air current. Otters have taken up residence in the trout rivers once more. A lovely corner of nature…
There are no big towns in Suisse Normande, but plenty of quaint villages clustered around a church, often perched on a hilltop. Some have a covered market (La Forêt Auvray), a manor house (Sainte Croix sur Orne) or a picturesque church (Ménil Gondouin). Others have lots of little shops, like at Putanges, Ségie Fontaine and Athis. At La Carneille a greeter takes visitors on a lovely tour of the village.
Two absolute musts in Suisse Normande Orne
Outdoor activities in Suisse Normande
Suisse Normande is a great place for outdoor activities with numerous footpaths through countryside rich in wildlife. There are plenty of mountain bike tracks too, although the hills can provide some serious challenges ! The area has many trout rivers and some are very fast flowing like at Vieux Saint Aubert.
Rivers and lakes are great for kayaking and canoeing. At Pont d’Ouilly in Calvados, in fact the river marks the boundary between the 2 départements, the outdoor activity centre offers training courses. At Pont Erambourg try a different type of vehicle and go rail-biking along the old railway line.
Suisse Normande has a wide range of holiday properties : gites, B&Bs, unusual accommodation and gites for groups. Suisse Normande has no fixed boundaries and in the 1920s Bagnole de l’Orne claimed to be part of it ! The area is within a large triangle between Flers, Falaise and Thury-Harcourt.
Explore Orne in Normandy with Gites de France Orne : Pays d'Ouche, Alençon, Chambois, Saint Ceneri and Alpes Mancelles"