As part of our Green Traveller's Guide to Normandy, Paul Bloomfield picks out a selection of local activities in this adventure-laden part of northern France.
What’s your preferred adrenaline level? A bracing stroll along a dramatic clifftop path, or a high-octane whizz through the treetops on a zipline? Normandy is blessed with a diverse array of landscapes, each lending themselves to a variety of activities. Wide sandy beaches provide racing tracks for sandyachting. Rolling hills, forests and high cliffs demand to be hiked. Woodland tracks echo to the gentle clop of horses’ hooves. Rivers buried amid rocky gorges provide ideal kayaking routes. In short, there’s plenty here to keep enthusiasts and beginners alike occupied, whatever your fitness levels of interests.
We’ve rounded up the woodland adventure playgrounds, the horseriding outfitters, the special walks and even botanical painting classes to provide a tempting menu of activities to burn off some energy and help you get under the skin of the region.
Horse-drawn nature treks
The Perche is a wooded, hilly region at the far south-east of Normandy, a rural district known particularly for the draught horse breed that originated here two centuries ago. The ideal way to discover the flora, fauna and and heritage of the area is aboard a horse-drawn carriage pulled by a pair of powerful Percherons, accompanied by naturalist guide Céline Maudet. Clopping gently into the heart of the Parc Naturel Régional de Perche, between the forest of Reno-Valdieu and the Huisne valley, Céline reveals hidden spots and introduces the animals and plants that make this area so special. Tours are suitable for disabled visitors. attelagenaturedansleperche.blogspot.com/
Cycle the Historical Route
Set off from the D-Day Landing Beaches and discover 130 miles of greenway and quiet roads in the beautiful bocage countryside en route for the Mont Saint-Michel. en.normandie-tourisme.fr
Cycle the Avenue Verte
The Avenue Verte joins London and Paris. When you arrive in France, you get of the ferry at the bustling port of Dieppe and head into the Norman countryside to explore the local scenery and taste the excellent food including Neufchâtel cheese. Why not take a detour to Giverny to see where Monet painted along the Seine before heading on to Paris! en.normandie-tourisme.fr/
Cycle the Véloscenic route
The Veloscenic is perfect new itinerary along 275 miles from Notre-Dame in Paris, past stately homes, gardens, natural parks and villages to the UNESCO-listed Mont Saint-Michel and its bay. en.normandie-tourisme.fr/active-outdoor/cycling-in-normandy/
A J Hackett Normandie - The Ultimate Adventure Company
Gustave Eiffel’s Viaduc de la Souleuvre was a feat of engineering when it opened in 1893, carrying a railway line atop stone pillars rising above the valley floor. Now just the pillars remain, topped by the AJ Hackett bungy-jumping platform – hurl yourself from 61m up with just a rubbery cord to stop your fall. Of course, you don’t just have to drop: you can top-swing from the pier, reach 120km/h on the bottom swing, hurtle along on a flying fox zipwire or zoom down on a vast luge slide – a huge buzz for children. ajhackett.com/normandie/
Woody Park Adventure
Just a stone’s throw from the beach at Fécamp, Woody Park has action-packed fun for all the family with 5 different treetop courses with one designed just for three year olds! woody-park.com/en/
Visit the oyster beds in a horse-drawn carriage
A fun way to see oyster beds by heading out to sea in an open carriage pulled by local shire horses. And of course, you get to taste the oysters on your return to dry land. agmg.jimdofree.com/
Golf de Granville
Just north of the lively seaside resort of Granville, this 27 hole course is a true links and dates back to 1912. The Albatros restaurant en site is the perfect 19th hole which serves great food in a friendly atmosphere. golfdegranville.com/links-of-granville-1912/
For information on local food and drink, nearby visitor attractions and activities, see our