Outdoor Activities in Normandy

Information on the national parks and reserves and locations for hiking, walking, mountain biking, kayaking, riding and other outdoor activities around Basse-Normandie and Haute-Normandie...

There is an endless supply of activities for the adventurous and much useful information available.

Hiking and Walking

Many hiking areas and marked trails are available in Normandy. In the département of La Manche alone there are more than 4,500 Km of marked paths. In all, Normandy has ten long-distance hiking itineraries and 7,500 Km of signposted footpaths.

Walking and hiking are also allowed in the Parc Regional de Normandie-Maine, Parc Regional de Brotonne, Parc Regional du Perche, Parc des Marais de Cotentin et du Bessin.

The Fédération Française de la Randonnée Pedestre (FFRP) is the overseeing body for all marked and maintained walking routes in France. It provides information and guide-books (most in French) for walkers in the Normandy area.

Top 25 hiking maps issued by the Institut Géographique National (IGN) are available from newsagents (presse) and bookshops.

All nationally recognised trails are categorised as follows:

  • GR (Grand Randonnée): Registered hiking trails that often run across the entire country
  • GRP (Sentiers de Grande Randonnée de Pays): Registered regional trails that will take you around a particular region for several days
  • PR (Sentiers de Promenade): Walking and hiking trails for short circuits, lasting several hours

The French route marking system shows paths by means of signs and blazes.

  • For clear explanations of the waymarks, or blazes (balises): Click here

Contacts

  • Comité Départemental de la Randonnée Pédestre du Calvados
    At
    : 5 rue Charles de Coulomb, 14120 Mondeville
    Tel: 02 31 82 28 83
  • Comité Départemental de la Randonnée Pédestre de la Manche
    At
    : 1 rue du 8 mai 1945, 50570 Marigny
    Tel: 02 33 55 34 30
  • Comité Départemental de la Randonnée Pédestre de l’Eure
    At
    : 1ter Place du Général de Gaulle, 27000 Evreux
    Tel: 02 32 38 37 07
    Comité Départemental de la Randonnée Pédestre de l’Orne
    At
    : La Grange Rouge, 61130 Saint-Germain de la Coudre
    Tel: 02 33 83 22 90
  • Comité Départemental de la Randonnée Pédestre de Seine-Maritime
    At
    : La Jonchère, Hameau de la Ville, 76290 Saint-Martin du Manoir
    Tel: 0235555790
Cycling and Mountain Biking

Normandy's coastline, countryside and woodlands make it an ideal place for cycling: popular areas include the coastline which is not too hilly, the Cotentin Peninsula, the Seine Valley and the hills of the Suisse Normande.

For information on mountain biking circuits in Normandy see website VTT France and select Basse-Normandie or Haute-Normandie.

Horse-Riding

There are many rural paths allowing the horse-rider to visit many places in Normandy. For horse-lovers the horse racing track in Deauville and the National Stud Farm, Haras du Pin are both worth the visit.

Canoeing and Kayaking

One of the main areas for canoeing and kayaking is the Parc Naturel de Normandie-Maine on the river Sarthe and the river Varenne.

Other areas include the D-Day landing beaches and the Mont St-Michel and many water sports in Normandy take place in Granville.

Navigable rivers for canoeing and kayaking are classified into six grades, Classes I to VI. Class I being for easily navigable rivers, Class V for extremely difficult, and Class VI for rivers that are only navigable depending on the water level and presenting many risks.

  • For more information from Aqua'rider: Click here (in French)

There are many organisations providing training, transport and equipment for trips, one day or several.

The sport is monitored by the Fédération Française de Canoë-Kayak (FFCK). It has information on appropriate rivers and expert guides, where available.

Contacts

  • Fédération Française de Canoë Kayak (in French)
    Tel: 02 48 89 39 89
  • Comité Départementale de Canoë Kayak de Calvados
    At
    : 4 Quai Caffarelli, 14000 Caen
    Tel: 02 31 53 92 23
    Fax: 02 31 53 92 23
  • Comité Départementale de Canoë Kayak de l’Eure
    At
    : 44 rue de l’Eglantier, 27200 Vernon
    Tel: 02 32 51 14 93
    Fax: 02 32 21 94 97
  • Comité Départementale de Canoë Kayak de la Manche
    At
    : 5 rue la Grande Huberderie, 50630 Quettehou
    Tel: 02 33 54 76 67
  • Comité Départementale de Canoë Kayak de la Seine-Maritime
    At
    : 66 rue Guillaume d’Estouteville, 76000 Rouen
    Tel: 02 35 07 07 06
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