National Geographic Traveller (UK)



The River Orne flows through the Vallée d’Orne on its 94-mile journey north from Lower Normandy into the English Channel at Ouistreham, and you can bathe, paddle and splash at multiple points along its banks

Canoeing & kayaking

West of Falaise, pretty little Clécy is the area’s primary outdooract­ivity hub and viewpoint to catch a bird’s-eye sweep of the valley. Fuel up on coffee and picnic fare at the boulangeri­e on main square, Place du Tripot, before heading down to the river. Capa Venture rents canoes, kayaks and standup paddleboar­ds. Paddle serene waters beneath the soaring arches of Clécy’s huge viaduct, built in 1866. Or join a more challengin­g half- or full-day kayaking expedition. Minibuses shuttle river explorers upstream to Pont d’Ouilly, from where it’s an eightmile paddle with occasional rapids back to Clécy. Guingettes, pop-up summer cafes, on riverbanks along the way provide a dash of vintage cool a la Renoir.

Taking the waters

In 2022, the belle époque spa town of Bagnoles-de-l’Orne became the first destinatio­n in France to receive a gold-certified Green Destinatio­ns award for sustainabi­lity from the Global Tourism Sustainabl­e Council. French ‘curists’ have travelled here to take the thermal waters here since the Middle Ages. Combine a soak in the pool, fed by an undergroun­d spring, at B’O Spa Thermal with leisurely forest walks through a labyrinth of 300-yearold oaks in the protected Forêt d’Andaine. If you have a hankering for the old-school glamour of Honfleur on the coast, Bagnoles’ historic quarter of opulent art deco villas — east of the town’s centrepiec­e lake — is its inland soul sister.

Bungee jumping

To ramp up the pace, join adrenaline junkies at the Souleuvre Viaduct, a 40-minute drive west of Clécy, a little west of Vallée de l’Orne. French engineer Gustave Eiffel mastermind­ed the viaduct above the River Souleuvre in 1893 and trains to Caen trundled across it until 1960 when the railway line closed. From the highest of the five remaining granite-stone pillars, bungee jumpers at Skypark now make death-defying leaps of faith while enjoying stupendous aerial views of Normandy’s patchwork quilt of fields on the heartthump­ing, 200ft fall down to the river below. You can ask to be plunged waist-deep into the water if you dare. A zip-line and giant swing cater to the less intrepid. viaducdela­

 ?? ?? Bungee jumping at the Souleuvre Viaduct
near Sourdeval
Bungee jumping at the Souleuvre Viaduct near Sourdeval

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