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Normandy has so many surprises up its sleeve! Next on your list of places to explore has to be the Suisse Normande (Norman Switzerland), a land of deep valleys and sheer cliffs on the border of the Calvados and Orne départements.

Clécy and its panoramic golf course

After the sandy beaches, the cattle pastures of the Pays d’Auge and the broad open fields of the Plaine de Caen, now Normandy presents a new face. In the Suisse Normande you will find rocky outcrops, forests and canyons. You could – just about – imagine that perhaps some mountains are in the offing after all!

Our day begins by following the course of the river Orne out of Caen, some 40 miles of beautiful country wherever you look. We have settled upon the village of Clécy, capital of the Suisse Normande. Here there is everything for those that love sport – canoeing or kayaking on the river, hiring boats or paddle-boats, or for softies just walking along the river bank to admire the viaduct and village. You can also enjoy one of the highest points in the area known as the Pain de Sucre (sugarloaf) and if you really like a challenge and have a head for heights you will love the Via Ferrata, a 250m-long hug of a sheer cliff 50m up! Or why not try hang-gliding? It’s not a bad way to start flying! If you prefer terra firma, there are plenty of great hiking trails in the Suisse Normande.

Clecy golf course has a wonderful panoramic view of the Suisse Normande spread out like an amphitheatre before you – we saw some wild horses that came up to us, reminding us that nature is king in Suisse Normande!

Roche d’Oëtre, the most impressive look-out point in western France

One place you really shouldn’t miss before leaving the Suisse Normande is the Roche d’Oëtre, which affords incredible panoramic views over the Rouvre gorges. This area of Special Scientific Interest (or its French equivalent) is 118m above sea level, and offers a splendiferous view on every side. Do take care however when approaching the edge of the cliff!

We really have the impression of having been transported to the very ends of the Earth – somewhere like, er, Canada! Its sweeping verdant forests, its great rocky outcrops thrusting up into the sky; the Rockies threatening to crush us, if a great grizzly bear doesn’t burst upon us and do so first! If you want to get the most out of the Suisse Normande, I guess you have to let your imagination run away with you… just a little!