5 Oct 2009
It's also home to some spectacular scenery. The Orne département, in particular, has stunning river gorges, cut through rugged hills of schist by the river Orne and its tributaries, the Rouvre, Baize and Noireau.
The most famous example of this natural beauty is La Roche d'Oëtre - a high promontory overlooking a heavily wooded meander of the Rouvre shortly before it joins the Orne. This has been classified as a natural monument of national importance since 1931.
The valley is located in the Suisse Normande - 'Swiss Normandy' - a somewhat overstated appellation given that we're talking about hills rather than mountains. But it's no less beautiful for that.
La Roche d'Oetre is the starting point for a number of 'randonnées' - hiking trails - most of them gentle strolls but others a little more demanding.
For all the majesty and grandeur of the scenery as seen from the top of the valley, once you've descended the steep, zigzagging path to the valley floor, you find that the Rouvre is actually a somewhat gentle river - fast but shallow. And you're no longer aware that you're in a deep gorge. Instead, the environment has become one of tranquil woodland.
These are among the most beautiful places I've visited. I'm glad they're on my doorstep.
The images in this blog post are available as framed or card-mounted prints, greetings cards or posters via our gallery at RedBubble. Click on the images for more details.