La Roche d'Oëtre Nature Reserve

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Take a seat, unwind, and enjoy the view.
Let your adventure into the heart of the Normandy Mountains commence at La Roche d’Oëtre.
The must-see site in the region of the Suisse Normande, this is where the oldest landforms in France were born, hundreds of millions of years ago.
What makes this “lump of rock” so famous is its precipice!
A 118-metre-high sheer drop producing a spell-binding setting.
The belvedere overlooking the valley offers a breath-taking view of the gorges of the river Rouvre below.
A magnificently green setting with a wealth of geology, flora and fauna.
An outcrop in the form of a human face emerges from other rocky escarpments, and the forest below shelters a torrential river, creating a bucolic tableau ripe for exploration.
What makes this “lump of rock” so famous is its precipice!
A 118-metre-high sheer drop producing a spell-binding setting.
The belvedere overlooking the valley offers a breath-taking view of the gorges of the river Rouvre below.

A site of special scientific interest

La Roche d’Oëtre is listed as a “Sensitive Natural Area” in the Orne department, and is home to a number of rare and unusual animal and plant species.

A large number of species, some extremely rare, live on the site of the Roche d’Oëtre.

Some, like the green lizards that nest in the thickets, heaths and dry grasslands on the ledges, seek out hot spots.
There are also butterflies, crickets, grasshoppers and, above all, a wide variety of reptiles (unusual for this region).

As for birds and mammals such as roe deer, badgers and martens, they’re seeking fresh air! So you’re more likely to come across them in the hillside woods that are also home to many wood-eating insects and bats shelter in the cavities offered by dead trees.

The banks of the river Rouvre are regularly visited by animals that thrive in this wild and unspoilt landscape: the calopteryx branded damselfly, the kingfisher, the polecat and the otter are the most striking visitors.

Finally, the rock-strewn course of the river Rouvre and its sandy-gravel bed are home to brown river trout and the extremely rare fresh water pearl mussel.

The prevailing environmental conditions at La Roche d’Oëtre, from the rocky cliff ledges to the valley floor, have favoured the development of a wide variety of flora, commensurate with the diversity of the site’s natural habitats.

The plateaux, with their acidic superficial soils are occupied by low – growing, light- loving vegetation. Behind the cliff faces there’s dry heathland, consisting of heather, cladonia lichens, tufted hair grass and gorse. Here, small areas of natural “lawns” can be seen, rich in pioneer species such as Blue Stonecrop Sedum or Spring flowering Spergula, a white-flowered annual plant that is protected in the region.

Further down, the escarpments form perfect habitats for a multitude of moss and lichen species. Dominated by oaks, the woodlands are interspersed with shrubs and herbs such as Holly, Wavy Hair Grass and ferns that thrive on thin, dry soils or closer to the river Rouvre with its richer, cooler soils there are brambles, common lung wort, wild garlic and wood melik grasses, etc.

Along the river banks, alders, willows and ashes form a magnificent forest – gallery several kilometres long, punctuated here and there by a rare and protected fern, the beautiful Royal Fern.

The Roche d’Oëtre is classified as a Sensitive Natural Area by the Orne department, whose role is to protect and enhance the natural heritage of the site. With its 80,000 visitors a year the management of this environmentally sensitive site essentially consists of protecting the vegetation from being picked by visitors and crucially, from over-visitation by tourists, by channelling visitor traffic. It is vital that you stick to the marked pathways to prevent erosion and damage.

The history of La Roche d'Oëtre

The history of La Roche d’Oëtre may be small, but it’s no less rich!
It began in prehistoric times, as attested by worked flint tools found in the river Rouvre.

The ledges and some of the rock shelters offer remarkable observation posts, and were certainly used initially for hunting lookouts and later by shepherds.

The Roche d’Oëtre site itself is also full of anecdotes and special stories.
There’s a cave here too, known as “la chambre aux fées” (“fairy’s bedroom”), and is the stuff of legends. It has hidden numerous brigands and refugees: a counterfeiter, a marquis fleeing from revolutionaries, a leader of the Chouans royalist counter-revolutionaries and once even the former owner of the site!

The history of La Roche d’Oëtre is also, modestly, that of the many visitors who have come here to contemplate its beauty, and that of the successive establishments that have welcomed them, in particular the tea room run for many years by the Loudière family, where visitors came to take refreshments in the shade of the tall pine trees.

Visitor Centre

“An authentic and typically Norman boutique”.

Here you can discover and purchase some of the products for which our region is famous.

We work closely with a dozen or so producers, most of whom are based within a 20 km radius of the shop.
As part of our responsible approach to product quality, we are committed to offering a range of products that come from organic agriculture (AB label) and/or are AOP (Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée) certified, such as the Poiré Domfrontais (Perry cider from Domfront)

The star of our local produce section is of course, cider! We also stock many other emblematic local products such as Calvados, Poiré, apple juice, Pommeau, Isigny caramels and more!
Our producers sometimes allow themselves a few eccentricities to challenge your taste buds so here’s something to whet your appetite: Apple/Calvados flavoured tea, honey caramel and apple, hay and cider jellies…
Need a snack? We’ve got just the thing! Both simple and tasty, the delicious butter shortbread from the local biscuit factory l’Abbaye is a bit like our “Proust’s madeleine”. Once a staple in our school bags, it now comes in a range of shapes and flavours. We’ll leave you the pleasure of discovering them in our boutique!

As you browse the shelves, you’ll be seduced by the “Made in Normandy” creations of our local artisans, including handmade jewellery, ceramic crockery and wooden decorations on display here.

Before you leave us to take a walk in the forest or to continue your tour of Suisse Normande, you’re sure to want to take home a souvenir from the site or the region. From magnets to cutting boards, mugs, key rings and the famous postcard… we’re sure you’ll find something here to suit you!

Opened in 2010, the Gallery space welcomes the work of artists from all backgrounds every year: painters, photographers, sculptors, ceramists, writers, performers…
No fewer than five exhibitions are on offer during the season (March to October).
We’re keen to vary the programme, both in terms of theme and type of art, so as to arouse the curiosity of our ever-growing number of visitors.
Art is not just for the initiated, so come on and let yourself be tempted by our exhibitions!
Free admission / wheelchair accessible

Would you like to exhibit your work the next season?
Contact us at

As you enter the reception pavilion you’ll discover our attractive boutique.
Opposite the entrance, you’ll find the Tourist Office counter.
Need informed advice? Contact one of our knowledgeable counsellors. Take advantage of their expertise to create or perfect your stay.
Personalized advice, tips to share and a multitude of (Norman) secrets to whisper… there are so many reasons to come and meet us!

Then turn right towards the gallery.
Here is the relaxation area. A wide range of documentation is at your disposal. Take your time to browse our tourist guides and take away any leaflets that you find interesting.
On the displays you will find not only information of our territory, The Mountains of Normandy and the Orne but also that of the Suisse Normande as a whole together with neighbouring departments of the Manche and Calvados.

In addition to the wide range of activities and outdoor sports available here, the Tourist Office presents various events throughout the season: craft and local markets such as the “Gorges de la Rouvre markets” in summer and a beautiful Christmas market at the end of November, workshops and artists’ days and book fairs, etc. The season is punctuated by two major highlights: the “ExtraVerties” festival and the cross-country trail run “Le Trail de la Roche d’Oëtre. More information on these can be found under the Events tab.

Opening Hours:
March: from Tuesday to Friday from 14h to 17h
April to June and September: every day from 10am to 6pm
July, August: every day from 10am to 7pm
October: from Tuesday to Sunday from 10am to 5pm
Contact us : 02 31 59 13 13

Things to do at the Roche d'Oëtre

Lovers of hiking will be enchanted by the wide choice of signposted trails. Whatever your preference, whatever your level, each walk offers superb landscapes, valleys, panoramas, picturesque paths and a discovery of this amazing rural habitat… All the paths are well maintained and are regarded as being the most beautiful in the Suisse Normande area. A free leaflet listing the walking routes below is available at the Tourist Office.
  • The cornice trail
    0.8 km, 20 min
    At the top of the escarpment, this trail allows you to explore the landscape and enjoy panoramic views over the Rouvre valley. Some of it is accessible to people with reduced mobility.
  • The gorge trail
    1.8 km, 45 minutes
    Enjoy the scenery as you descend into the gorges of the river Rouvre.
  • The Meanders trail
    6.4 km, 2 hours
    Variant: 2.2 km, 1 h
    Beautiful views of the escarpments (Rocher des Gardes) and the Rouvrou meander, passing through the village nestling in the valley with its houses built in metamorphic rock (Hornfels). There are several explanatory panels along the way.
  • The granite trail
    8.7 km, 3 hours
    Variant: 7.7 km, 2h45
    One of the most beautiful trails in the area, with a programme including:
-The Roche d’Oëtre landscape
-a trail along the banks of the river Rouvre with its granite boulders
-possible visit to the Maison du Paysage (biodiversity information centre with its café nature)
-the charming village of Bréel
-the hamlet of Oëtre and its traditional granite houses.
Warning: this route is closed from late September to late February due to hunting and possible flooding.

> Download the 4 hiking guides

Orne aventure: The adventure park in the Suisse Normande region

In the heart of this exceptional site at La Roche d’Oëtre, 300 metres from the Visitor Centre, you can swing through the trees on ropes, climb from tree to tree at your own pace, according to your ability and your desires. Experience great moments of fun, laughter and emotion, where thrills meet the tranquillity of the forest! Panoramic views over the Rouvre valley.
Ideal for the whole family.
11 courses for all levels: from 3-5 years to extreme courses. Over 120 rope courses: zip lines, monkey bridges, Tarzan jumps, net courses, 100% zip line courses, etc.
For your safety there’s a continuous lifeline.
More Information

4 signposted mountain bike routes from La Roche d’Oëtre.

Are you taking your mountain bike on holiday with you? Or would you like to hire one? Click here

A great idea!
Are you an experienced mountain biker or a beginner? Would you like to discover our countryside and natural heritage on your bike? Our Suisse Normande mountain biking area, accredited by the Fédération Française de Cyclisme, offers a total of 38 circuits starting from La Roche d’Oëtre and the main sites in the Suisse Normande region.

Routes of varying levels offer a different way of discovering the heart of the Suisse Normande region through some splendid scenery.

4 signposted trails starting from La Roche d’Oëtre:
La Roche d’Oëtre – 24 km / difficult / Red
Le val de Rouvre – 19 km / difficult / Red
La Plisse – 7.5 km / easy / blue
Le Blanc rocher – 11 km / easy / blue

> Download the routes 

If you’d like to try out other routes to enjoy different experiences and indulge in your favourite activity then you can find all the mountain bike routes in the Espace VTT FFC Suisse Normandie.

3 permanent orienteering courses: an activity that combines sport, nature and reflection

On your own, with family or friends, explore the natural site of La Roche d’Oëtre through our orienteering courses.
Choose your route and set off on foot in search of the markers. Stamp your game card at each marker. And don’t forget to collect your reward at the Visitor Centre reception.
3 routes from 1.5km to 7.5km, from 1h to 2.5h

• Les Belvédères trail – 1.5km – ideal for a family outing with great views
• Rouvre Trail – 2.5km – discover the viewpoints and the Rouvre gorges
• Vallées trail – 7.5km – discover the valleys of the Rouvre and breathtaking views of the meanders of the Orne

> Download the route that suits you best

If you’ve noticed a broken or missing marker, please do let us know!
If you’d like to try out other orienteering routes, the Montagnes de Normandie offers a range of others. Find out more here.

Mysteries of the Roche d’Oëtre: a fun and innovative App for young and old alike

The App gives you a lizard as a travel companion whilst together you discover the history, geology, fauna and flora of La Roche d’Oëtre.
Orlith, a cute little lizard who knows everything that’s going on at the site tells stories as old as they are surprising to walkers along the Rouvre gorges… He has the gift of making the seemingly silent rocks speak using 360° images, videos, audio testimonies and augmented reality.

For all the information you need to visit the site with Orlith, click here.

Philippe, long-time resident of Bréel is passionate about the region and will be delighted to take you on a tour of the paths around the Roche d’Oëtre and to explore the little chapels along the route!

Book a free guided walk with Phillippe Cornu, “Greeter” !

For a warm welcome and a gourmet break at the top of the cliffs. The best panoramic view of the site is from their terrace!

For more information, click here.

Useful Information about the Roche d’Oëtre

There is free parking and a designated bus park at the Visitor Centre, with spaces reserved for people with reduced mobility.
Parking for campervans is only permitted from 8am to 10pm. For overnight stays, we can point you to an appropriate camp site.

Close to the car park, our cycling friends can use the bike racks located under the shelter. If you have bulky equipment, a pannier or a battery to recharge then just ask at reception, and Tourist Office staff will be happy to store your belongings safely or recharge a battery.

Public toilets are located at the Visitor Centre. Access is free but only during Tourist Office opening hours.
There’s a free composting toilet available close to the rope course and pony/ cow ride hut.

Picnic area
A picnic area with around ten tables is located under the trees near the Caillou café.
There’s also a children’s play area and a boules pitch, all under the shade of trees, ideal for the hot days of summer.
Don’t forget the Café Le Caillou which serves homemade chips, burgers, steaks, pizzas and salads if you fancy a “posh” picnic…

Opening times
Contact us

La Roche d’Oëtre office
La Roche d’Oëtre site
61430 Saint-Philbert-sur-Orne