As one of the most visited regions of France, Normandy is famous for its beautiful and long beaches, for its wooded countryside (called bocage Normand in French), but also for its rich history. It is only a 2-hours drive from Paris, which makes it the perfect getaway spot for Parisians. Even though Normandy isn’t the first outdoor destination in France, you will find many unique and fun activities there.
From admiring the famous Mont Saint-Michel and the impressive tides while land sailing, to going paragliding above the historic Omaha Beach – you can find activities for everyone in Normandy.
So if you are looking to spice up your stay in Normandy, here is our list of the Top 10 Outdoor Activities to try in Normandy.
#1 : Land Sailing on the Bay of Mont-Saint-Michel
The Mont Saint-Michel is THE place to visit while in Normandy. Built on a rocky island and surrounded by a huge bay, this spot is mainly constituted of the Mont Saint-Michel Abbey and its dependencies. There are only 30 permanent inhabitants!
The Mont Saint-Michel is also where you can see the biggest tides in all Europe. You will witness a 15-meter tidal range, being the difference between high tide and low tide. Due to that phenomenon, two times a day, the Mont Saint-Michel becomes an island with water all around it. Here you will find everything you need to know about the Mont Saint-Michel and also the best times to observe the tides’ phenomenon. Stay careful when hiking on the bay with the low tide!
On top of having a beautiful view of the Mont Saint-Michel Island and Cancale (a little village known for its oysters), the Bay offers you an ideal playground for many outdoor activities. The most popular one is land sailing, also called sand yachting. Practised on the long sandy beaches, you will be driving a 3-wheeled engine, powered by a wing. Learning how to drive a land sail, is an easy task, even without prior experience. On a marked path, you will be able to discover the beaches of Normandy with a speed going up to 50 km/h.
Throughout the activity, your guide will teach you all there is to know about land sails and to answer any additional questions. For €20 per person, the Sand yachting in Mont Saint-Michel is great to try with family or friends! Kids from 12 years and up can drive their own land sail, but the younger ones must be accompanied by an adult.
#2 : Bungee Jumping from the Souleuvre Viaduct
Let’s head to Normandy’s countryside, in the Calvados, for the 2nd on our list of outdoor activities in Normandy. The Souleuvre Viaduct is a disused railway laying 60 meters above the Souleuvre river. It’s the perfect spot to try bungee jumping in the Normandy region. Since 1990, a suspended footbridge gives access to a bungee jumping platform located on one of the bridge’s pillars.
3, 2, 1… Each year, 8 000 people come from all around the world to try this unique experience. When jumping, you will be attached from your ankles, but also from your waist – for maximum security. With the river below, you can ask to adjust the length, so you get to touch the water with your hands or even be submerged until your waist. Once you’ve jumped, you will be picked up and untied at the bottom of the valley.
Before you book the bungee jumping at the Souleuvre Viaduct, make sure you take a look at the prerequisites and the contraindications. This jump from the Souleuvre Viaduct will cost you €99.
If this activity is a bit too much adrenaline for you, there are other outdoor activities to try such as the giant zipline or the giant swing for a pendulum jump. Certainly, they are quieter than a bungee jump but still full of adventure!
#3 : Catamaran Sailing at Omaha Beach
Omaha beach is one of the 5 landing beaches from June 1944. It is, without a doubt, the most famous one. There, you will find American cemeteries, the D-Day Museum, and the Memorial Museum. We suggest you combine these visits with an outdoor activity: catamaran sailing. When catamaran sailing in Omaha Beach, you will discover the historic Norman beach from the water.
Starting from Colleville-sur-Mer, your guides will tell you everything about the technique and safety tricks you must know. Unlike traditional monohull sailing boats, catamarans have 2 hulls both parallel to one another. These technicalities are the factors that make the catamaran go faster – since the hulls decrease the water resistance and increase the stability.
During 2 whole hours, and for €30 per person, you will defy the wind and waves with family and/or friends. Coming out of this experience, you will know all there is to know about sailing a catamaran on this mythical landing beach.
#4: Paragliding at Omaha Beach
Let’s continue our list of the 10 outdoor activities in Normandy, with another one on Omaha Beach. As you’ve read before, this beach is very popular and offers incredible views of the English Channel. So why not discover these places from above? Accompanied by your guide, all you will have to do is take some energetic steps towards the cliff, then sit back on your seat and enjoy the view.
On the tandem paragliding flight from Omaha Beach, you will have a short briefing session and will be able to choose between 4 different flights based on your experience. Get ready to go on an adventure you will never forget!
Depending on the weather, you will either take off from Omaha Beach, Vierville sur Mer, Commes, or Tracy sur Mer. But all these places offer beautiful landscapes of the landing beaches.
If you feel comfortable enough, and the weather is good, your guide might just let you fly the paraglide! This whole activity will cost from €70 and up.
#5: Horseback Riding in Normandy
Now, another fun way to discover Normandy’s territory is with the help of horses. From stables located in the regional park of the Boucles de la Seine Normande, you can go on a horseback riding excursion near Rouen, Le Havre, and more. For 4 hours, you will learn the basics of horse riding and will discover the Norman paths along the Seine.
From €40, anyone can ride these horses, which makes this activity perfect to try with family or friends. During the horseback riding tours in Normandy, you will meet your instructor at the stables, be introduced to your horse, and learn about their equipment and how to put them on. Then, you will groom them and get ready for your 90 minutes (minimum) ride in the heart of the forest – where you will learn how to walk and trot with the horses.
But for those of you who are fond of horses, you can try our different horseback riding activities in Normandy and go on rides for up to 5 days!
#6: Microlight Flight in Etretat near Deauville
The Normandy coast is known for its impressive chalk cliffs which are stunningly vertical, especially those of Etretat. The most classic way to discover this unique landscape is to go for a walk by the sea or on the paths overlooking the English Channel.
But we suggest you discover the cliffs of Etretat and the beaches of the region, from above, while on a pendulum microlight flight. But what is a microlight? Good question! A microlight is an ultralight aircraft equipped with an engine. It is in fact a motorized hang glider.
The departure to fly over the cliffs of Etretat by microlight is from the airport of Le Havre-Octeville. You can choose between four different flights:
- Discovery flight: during 12 minutes you will fly over the ocean and the coast towards Cauville or over the beach of Le Havre
- 20 minutes flight: you will fly along the famous Alabaster coast to the port of Antifer while enjoying the sun setting on the cliffs
- 25-30 minutes flight: either you can fly over the Normandy coast until the vertical of the Phare de la Poterie, or you can fly over the Pont de Normandie
- Flight to Etretat-Yport: during 45-50 minutes, you will fly first to Etretat where you will find its majestic cliffs and then discover the windmills of Fécamp.
No matter which itinerary you choose and from €99, a microlight flight is always an unforgettable experience, especially if you fly over the beautiful beaches and impressive cliffs of Normandy.
#7 : Sea Kayaking tour in Trouville
Let’s stay close to the beautiful Normandy cliffs. Another unique way to discover the beautiful Normandy coast is by kayak. From the sea, you will be able to see the cliffs from below, which makes them seem even more impressive!
Sea kayaking along the cliffs of Normandy, starting from the seaside resort of Trouville, is an activity accessible to all. The only prerequisite is that participants should know how to swim at least 25 meters without assistance. This must be confirmed by a certificate. For about two hours, you will paddle by the majestic cliffs and pass by the most beautiful beaches of Normandy. This activity is ideal for families and friends.
Children under 15 years must be accompanied by an adult and children under 18 years need parental permission. This unique and fun adventure costs from €20 per person and children under 9 years old can participate for free.
#8 Via Ferrata in Clécy
Clécy is the perfect spot to try a Via Ferrata due to its environment. This is why the Via Ferrata near Clécy is one of the Top 10 Via Ferratas in France. This activity is a mix of hiking and climbing and is done on a route built on the cliffs overhanging Clécy. The Via Ferrata is equipped with cables, zip lines, ladders, and ramps to facilitate the progression throughout the course.
The Via Ferrata of Clécy is ideal to do with family and friends. Its course, 250 meters long and 70 meters high, follows the cliffs along the Orne river. Your efforts will be rewarded with a breathtaking view of the region and the Orne viaduct. For your adventure on the Via Ferrata of Clécy, you can either be supervised by a qualified instructor or cross the course in an autonomous way with a small training of the safety techniques before you go.
In both cases and from €17 and up, you will have a good time during which you will face a succession of monkey bridges, footbridges, and beams along the cliff. Fun fact: during the summer you can finish the Via Ferrata with a giant zipline!
#9: Skydiving near Etretat
If a view of the famous Normandy cliffs from the air in a microlight (see activity #6) doesn’t seem spectacular enough, we have a solution. How about a view of the area from over 3000 meters, does that seem high enough? Perfect then, get ready for an unforgettable tandem skydive over the Normandy coast!
From €335, you will leave from le Havre-Octeville airport, where you will receive a video briefing and a rehearsal of the jump on the ground before boarding the plane. Then, you will take off and see a magnificent view of the beaches of Deauville, Trouville, Honfleur, as well as the cliffs of Etretat. Once you have reached the height of 3300 meters, you can start the free fall at a speed of 200 km/h.
Your instructor takes care of everything, you just have to enjoy the adrenaline rush and the view! After 35 to 40 seconds, at about 1500 meters above ground, the instructor will deploy the parachute and for around 5 minutes, you will be able to admire the superb landscapes: from land to sea. This is also the moment to realize the adrenaline-filled experience you just had!
#10: Fat biking at Omaha Beach
Fat biking is definitely worthy of being on our list of the 10 outdoor activities in Normandy, especially since it is also located on Omaha Beach. It is a bike made for riding on unstable roads like sand, snow, and mud. The only difference with a classic bike is that the tires are bigger – which allows you to move easier. You can ride a Fat bike no matter the weather!
From €20 per person, thanks to the Fatbike excursion on Omaha Beach, you will be able to ride on the sand of the Normandy landing beaches for an educational and fun outing. With your family or friends, you can either do a 1h30 session without guidance or a tour ride on an electric Fatbike to discover the secrets of the Second World War.
Living unique adventures and creating new memories is the best way to discover a region. By now you should have enough ideas for your stay in Normandy! And if none of the 10 ideas above has made you want to try them, rest assured, Normandy has plenty of other activities to offer. We invite you to consult all our activities in Normandy.
And why not discover the French capital by trying out unforgettable activities? Find more inspiration in our article on the top 12 extreme activities to do in Paris.