Visit Orne, France
Relatively undiscovered compared to the coastal regions of Normandy, the Orne has a great deal to commend it with large areas of scenic countryside, rivers and forests, and some interesting historic towns and pretty villages to be discovered.
Selected places to visit in Orne
Orne, Normandy: highlights
Orne is a department of France located to the south of the Lower Normandy region. Alencon is the main town in the Orne.
The substantial forested areas to explore include the Andaines Forest (largely around Domfront and Bagnoles de l'Orne, and La Ferté-Macé) and the Douves Forest north of Alencon around Sées. Within the Andaines forest especially there are lots of very picturesque highlights, both natural such as lakes and gorges and man-made such as the Saint-Antoine Chapel and the Bonvouloir Tower.
To the south-east of the Orne department you can explore the Le Perche region, based around the town of Belleme, now a designated Regional Natural Parc and with large areas of forest and small rivers being a perfect region for walking and cycling in quiet unspoiled countryside. Start your visit at the Manoir et Domaine de Courboyer, information centre and manor house in the centre of the parc.
Part of another natural park - the 'Parc Naturel Régional Normandie-Maine' - also falls within the Orne department.
Places and momuments
For a change from all the scenic splendours head to the 'belle-epoque' spa town at Bagnoles de l'Orne and treat yourself to a relaxing treatment and a stroll around the lake. Argentan, Flers and Mortagne-au-Perche are other pleasant towns to visit in the Orne department.
For a bit of historical culture head to Carrouges Castle, a listed national monument or one of the many other castles such as those at Bagnoles and Mortree (the chateau d'Ö), Flers and Sérans, or the ruined castle at Domfront.
Other monuments include the cathedral at Sées; the Priory of Saint Michel de Crouttes (north-east of Argentan) is an attractive ancient building set in scenic gardens; while garden lovers will also want to head for the Jardins de la Mansonière (near Saint-Ceneri-le-Gerei).
Highlights among the many villages include the village of Saint-Ceneri-le-Gerei, classified as one of the 'most beautiful villages of France', and the village of Saint-Fraimbault, a 4* ville-fleuri in the south-west of the Orne, and see also the villages of La Perriere and Le Sap among others.
The most popular destination in the department is the National Stud at Haras-du-Pin
Last but not least, the Orne has a longstanding culinary reputation - perhaps best known for the famous camembert cheese, originating from a village of the same name to the north-east of the department - although the boudin noir from Mortagne-au-Perche is a close contender!
See a list of all Orne communes.
Map of Orne
French version: Orne (Francais)