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Deep in the forest...

The Forest of Andaines is full of delightful surprises to be discovered while hiking, cycling or driving.

 

Saint Ortaire priory

(Saint Michel des Andaines – 1.5 km)

Saint Ortaire had a reputation for performing miraculous cures. The faithful who went to the chapel, would place a stone on the trees surrounding the shrine at the height on the body where their pain or disease was to be found. The size of the stone was related to the severity of the disease. When the stone fell to the ground naturally, the patient would be cured. You can visit two chapels, the 20th century Chapelle des Servites, with its stained glass windows and altar by Bernard Chardon, and the private Chapelle de Saint Ortaire et St. Radegund, built in the 18th century private. The hamlet owes its reputation to the hermit Saint Ortaire, who evangelized the region around the 6th century, and the ritual of the healing stones.

 

The Hippolyte oak

(Saint Michel des Andaines – 3 km)

This oak tree is named after the park keeper Foinet Hippolyte (1876-1956) who lived at Carrefour de l'Epinette and renovated it in the early 20th century. It is the oldest oak in the Andaines forest, at more than 300 years of age. Its circumference reaches 5.26 metres around 1.3 metres from the ground (you can find it at plot 46).

 

Dolmen "The bed of the Gione"

(Juvigny sous Andaine – 5 km)

This standing stone, known as the "Gione's Bed" according to a legend, was brought here by the bad fairy, the "Gione" who lived under huge blocks of stone that she transported herself in her apron.

She visited the peasants, who were obliged to feed her! One evening, on a Shrove Tuesday, the smell of hot pancakes pulled her to a farmstead: children were boiling water in eggshells, which they placed on the ashes of the hearth. The fairy used to come and admire these little pots as they boiled. When the occupants wanted to get rid of the ashes, they placed the red hot griddle on a small stool, where she was accustomed to sit down. When she arrived, she sat down on the stool and uttered a terrible cry. Grabbing her broom, she straddled and fled up the chimney, never to be seen again.

 

Tour de Bonvouloir

(Juvigny sous Andaine – 6 km)

Built in the South of the Andaine Forest, the Bonvouloir light tower has two turrets. Built in 1485, and nearly a hundred feet high, it was used as a rallying point during the day and as an illumination at night for soldiers seeking their way back to their companies. The Bonvouloir towers have been classified as a Historic Monument since 1926.

The site is linked to the legend of the discovery of the source of the Bagnoles waters.

 

 

Chapel of Ste Geneviève

(Juvigny sous Andaine – 10 km)

A granite chapel erected in the 20th century where young girls who wanted to get married within the year would go to pray... and write her name on the walls.

The chapel is in the south of the Andaines Forest. The original building dates from 1856, and it was rebuilt in 1939 by Father Derouet, who had also placed the rows of stone benches and carved figures around the chapel.

 

The Gorges of Villiers

(St Ouen le Brisoult – 10 km)

The gorges are located between Antoigny and the de la Cour valley. They have been formed by a small river called "The Gourbe" which wanders between rockfalls and hillsides.

The countryside around the Villiers Gorges is wild and rugged. Forests and boulders, streams and rocky cliffs make a harsh and isolated terrain which, for rural folks, has long represented danger and the unknown. Many legends are still attached to this place, from the sacred source of Chaud-Fontaine to the cave of Gisèle the Fairy. The “Contes et Légendes” guided tours will introduce you to the evil spirits and sorcerers who live here.

The site is one of a number of Sensitive Natural Areas of the Orne and is renowned for its fauna and flora, and for its remarkable panorama.

Useful information:

Marked trail open all year-round: Unguided discovery tour of 9 stages on the route (brochure available on site).

Access: Saint-Ouen-le-Brisoult car park at Villiers.

Guided tours with the Normandie-Maine Regional Natural Park. Tel: +33 (0)2 33 81 75 75.

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