Normandy Geography and Natural Beauty

Clecy on the River Orne, capital of Swiss Normandy, France

Suisse Normande

Normandy’s own ‘little Switzerland’ south of Caen, takes its name from the deep gorges and rocky crags of the River Orne. In sharp contrast to the gentler surrounding landscape, this quiet place of lush green wooded valleys and hillsides is ideal for outdoor pursuits - on the river, walking and climbing.

Enjoy beautiful scenery and explore attractive towns and villages such as Clecy, the ‘capital’ of Swiss Normandy.

Mont St Michel

Now a World Heritage Site, this stunning Gothic abbey dedicated to the Archangel Michael rises from its rocky pinnacle in the Bay of St Malo and has been visited by pilgrims for over 1,000 years.

A causeway takes today’s pilgrims to the island’s steep ‘Grande Rue’ lined with medieval houses, gift shops, creperies and cafes. Above are amazing architecture and views, and the Benedictine abbey church where visitors may sometimes attend lunchtime mass.

A regeneration project is well underway to restore the island's maritime character. The project aims to 'profoundly restore the landscape which provides a setting for one of the key locations of humanity and to renew the approach to the site in the spirit of crossings.' A new dam over the Couesnon to push sediment back out to sea, a new reception,  discovery routes,  the planting of 45,000 shrubs and trees and a new access route with a motor shuttle and horse carriages to take visitors to the island are all part of the project which will be completed by 2015.

The bay has one of the fastest incoming tides in the world – likened to the speed of a galloping horse! It is possible to walk the sands at low tide but you are advised to do so only as part of an organised group with an experienced guide.

Every summer when night falls, the abbey at the top of the mount reveals itself through a discovery trail enhanced by a 'son et lumiere' display.

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