Nature and the Great Outdoors in Normandy
With its coast, forests, and countryside, Normandy provides an unlimited variety of outdoor activities. Whether by foot, horseback, canoe, kite surf or parachute, visitors to the region can experience the magnificent Great Outdoors.
HIKING & BIKING
Rambling and hiking are popular pastimes as Normandy provides hundreds of miles of trails. Numerous footpaths make their way through changing landscapes and often meet with other routes which link Normandy with the rest of France. Suggested itineraries can be found in Tourist Offices.
Quiet country roads, forest tracks and cycle paths make cycling an absolute pleasure in Normandy. There are many bike hire centres throughout the region for those who prefer not to take their own. Whether you decide to head south to Barfleur along Pilgrims Way, or travel along the Avenue Verte to Dieppe, you will no doubt discover hidden corners of the region at your own pace.
Normandy has a distinct passion for horses. The Orne county is known as Horse country due to the many equestrian centres, stables and stud farms, most notably the renowned Haras du Pin. Tourists are welcome to attend the numerous horse shows in Bagnoles de L’Orne or Deauville or visit the many stud farms. Many stud farms and equestrian centres cater to families and help you to organise horse-riding to suit your own personal plans, whether it’s just for a few hours in one of the region’s many forests or crossing the Mont St Michel bay for a once in a lifetime experience.
In the heart of the Norman countryside, near Vire, is the Bungee Jump centre. The jump is performed from a disused viaduct which was designed by Gustave Eiffel. Activities for non-jumpers are also available at the site, including a zip wire which stretches across the whole valley and an adventure trail.
Whether it’s sailing, canoe-kayaking, kite surfing or wind surfing, Normandy has excellent facilities around the coast and inland. For more information; check the county tourist boards websites.
Blessed with its fair share of rivers, the region is considered one of the best in France for salmon and sea-trout fishing, whilst brown trout are multiplying faster here then elsewhere in the country. For county tourist board websites provide more information.
Golfers have been flocking to Normandy for years, attracted by the easily accessibly region; and the stunning views many of the courses offer. There are around 40 golf courses in Normandy, twelve of them enjoy sea views and several boast a long history, having been founded nearly a century ago. Deauville is well known for its upscale, luxury courses while those along the coast of the Seine Maritime are more traditional and scenic. The courses are all open to non-members and offer short breaks and golfing holidays. The brochure “Golf in Normandy” is available on request and identifies all the best spots for golfers
The Parc Nationale des Boucles de la Seine (the Curves of the Seine National Park) is a national treasure. The towns which lie within the boundaries of this reserve are of high environmental interest but are fragile as their existence depends on the twists and turns of the river, and maintaining their ecological balance. From Rouen to Le Havre, the Seine flows over 180km and the landscape surrounding the river offers a beautiful way to spend a day exploring the Haute Normandy countryside. “La Base de Plein Air et de Loisirs” is the ideal place for sports enthusiasts and amateurs, offering 25hectares of climbing walls, tennis courts, archery targets as well as lakes for sailing and wind surfing.
With four Regional Natural Parks to choose from in Normandy, you will be spoilt for choice, space and scenery. The natural environments are protected and preserved in these splendid parks, with fabulous views of forests, valleys, and extensive wildlife. Enjoy them on foot, horse-back or by bike…take binoculars to appreciate the many bird species and highlands cattle...indulge in active pastimes such as climbing or canoeing…or just admire the splendour of the historic buildings and the beautiful scenery.
Normandy Seine Regional Park www.pnr-seine-normande.com
Normandy Maine Regional Park www.parc-naturel-normandie-maine.fr
Contentin & Bessin Regional Park www.parc-contentin-bessin.fr
The Perche Regional Park www.le-perche.org
The numerous parks and gardens of Normandy offer a wealth of different species, as well as outstanding beauty. The Regional Tourist Board website lists all parks and gardens that are members of the “Club des Parcs et Jardins de Normandie” www.normandy-tourism.org