TheOrne is a formidable Normandy territory, with a mosaic of landscapes to discover. The Normandy-Maine Regional Nature Park and the Perche Regional Nature Park are bound to seduce all those who love the great outdoors. You can discover the gorges of Normandy Switzerland, take a breath of fresh air in the Pays du Bocage and get lost in the forest areas of the immense Perche and Écouves estates, where splendid stud farms attract lovers of the equestrian world. And to plunge into Norman elegance, head for the shops in the historic town of Alençon. An escapade rich in discoveries.

Alençon, unmissable visits

City of excellence, Alençon has based its reputation on one of the most delicate know-how: lace. High place which shelters the royal manufacture under Colbert, it then exported its know-how in the courts of Europe. Its stitch, known as the Alençon stitch, is famous throughout the world. A museum is dedicated to it and there is still a national workshop where a dozen of lacemakers perpetuate this tradition of needlework lace, a marvel that the whole world admires. This city of thirty thousand inhabitants has an exceptional architectural heritage. The old Alençon, with its medieval charm, the castle of the dukes, the town hall, thechurch of Notre-Dame and its majestic flamboyant gothic porch, the wheat market are all testimonies of the glorious past of this elegant town, once aristocratic, where Balzac, a regular visitor, drew his inspiration. Alençon is also the city where Saint Theresa was born. Today, this town is one of the most lively in the Orne thanks to its many shops and intense artistic activity. In the surrounding area, many painters found inspiration in the beauty of the landscapes.

The point of Alençon, lace symbol

The Museum of Fine Arts and Lace reveals the history and know-how of the famous point of Alençon. The scenography, enhanced by educational tools, highlights the museum's acquisitions, including a wedding veil dating from the 19th century, entirely made using the Alençon stitch technique, which is on the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. The museum also includes a fine arts section and an astonishing collection of Cambodian objects from the century.

The Perche Regional Nature Park, a new trendy destination

"Clean getaway, green getaway." It may be greener, but still, it's greener than green here. And if you don't know, it's because you haven't yet plunged deep into the most natural terroir of the Orne. Granted, Le Perche is becoming fashionable. So, make haste to discover it. The emblem of the Perche Regional Nature Park is a draught horse, the Percheron. The best ambassador to give you the keys to the most beautiful visits is the Maison du Parc. Established on the Courboyer estate and housed in the manor house of the same name (the only one in the Perche which is classified as a historical monument), the Maison du Parc is the showcase of the regional heritage through which you must pass. The 65-hectare hilltop site is home to a former 15th century manor house. Its outbuildings have been converted into a reception and tourist information centre, with a gourmet area offering a menu based on local farm produce and a shop selling Perche products including ciders and apple juice. In the surrounding area, signposted paths take you to the old sheepfold and the orchard. The Maison du Parc organizes many events: nature activities for young and old, exhibitions, theme days, horse-drawn carriage rides. In short, this is the place to be to get to know the Perche, its landscapes, forests, fauna and flora and to get the guides and itineraries to enjoy this beautiful and green escape.

The Haras national du Pin, the horse in the spotlight

Built at the beginning of the 18th century and named the Versailles of the horse, the Haras national du Pin represents 300 years of history. This majestic site located in the commune of Le Pin-au-Haras opens the doors of its stables to you to discover the epic of horse breeding in France. This site is a jewel of the department. The stable number 1 has given birth to a discovery trail combining the history of horses and breeding, trades and exhibition of works and photos. Not to be missed: the Jeudis du Pin, a show of stallions and carriages to music, every Thursday at 3pm, from June to September.

Bagnoles-de-l'Orne, Belle Époque thermal baths

Situated in the heart of the Normandy-Maine Regional Nature Park, Bagnoles-de-l'Orne was born a little over a century ago from the vogue for spa resorts. A Belle Époque thermal spa that is still very active today. This resort, unique in the west of France, is a place full of vitality where you can recharge your batteries and regain your health. And this is not the only attraction of this beautiful city. Between the lake, the heritage, the superb Belle Époque villas, the restaurants, the renowned hotels, the casino and the Andaine forest just a stone's throw away: there's plenty to do! Comedy festivals, street arts, concerts, horse races, but also outdoor sports... in this little corner of paradise, there is always something going on. Don't hesitate and follow the city's slogan to the letter: "Be Bagnoles" ("Be Bagnoles" in good French)!

La Roche d'Oëtre, hikes, canoeing and mountain bike circuits

Located in Normandy Switzerland, on the border with Calvados in Philibert-sur-Orne, La Roche d'Oëtre is one of the most prestigious natural lookouts in western France. Like a mountain in the middle of the bocage, overhanging 118 m above the Rouvre valley, the panorama is splendid. Classified as a "Sensitive Natural Area", this site, accessible free of charge all year round, carved out of stone, is home to many animal and plant species that are unusual in our territory. At the same time, it is rich in stories and legends of all kinds. Mysterious curiosity: one can admire a human face cut out of the rock. The place, as vertiginous as it is spectacular, offers many outdoor sports activities in the surrounding area: eight hiking circuits (from 600 m to 9 km), five mountain bike circuits, a cycling circuit (watch out for the hills!), orienteering courses, an acrobatic park with eight courses and a hundred or so games for the whole family, canoe trips and even (unique in France) cowback rides (yes, you read that right!). The welcome pavilion houses the tourist office, a souvenir and local produce shop, an exhibition area, a projection room... The restaurant is a welcome place to eat after the effort!

Smart info

When? Each season has its advantages and all year round we can enjoy ourselves

Get there. Count about 1h30 by car from Paris (via A11, A13 or N10). By train, several options on the TGV Atlantique, Paris-Granville or Paris-Le Mans lines

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