Normandy’s idea of “Switzerland:” a hilly area with many surprises. Is the Orne really a long tranquil river? From the sugarloaf crests (Crêtes du Pain de Sucre) to the Oëtre Rock in Putanges Lake, via the Gorges of the Vire, the natural beauty of this verdant paradise is the setting for rich traditions and varied heritage.
The youngest of the Norman districts, “Norman Switzerland,” the Suisse-Normande, is situated south of Caen. The earliest 19th century tourists who were sensitive to the picturesque were the ones who gave it its name when railroads began to traverse French provinces in the 1870’s. The Caen-Flers-Laval line followed the valley of the Orne between brushland and ridges. The Norman landscape, known for being placid and moderate, appeared much more turbulent and uneven in this area.