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Orne, Normandy

On the doorstep of Swiss Normandy, Écouché-les-Vallées nurtures a sense
of timelessness with its heritage gems, such as the church of Notre-Dame,
a treasure of 15th century Gothic art. Lift your gaze and admire its gargoyles,
solitary, silent guardians who have been withstanding storms and wars for centuries.

Écouché-les-Vallées Orne, Normandy 26
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Écouché-les-Vallées tells the story of a small village in Normandy which could have been written off the map of France during the intensive bomb raids of 1944. At the entrance of the village, a Sherman tank from the 2nd Armoured Division reminds us of these dark days. But walking through the maze of small streets of this 1,300-inhabitant village, one is struck by its many remaining sights and heritage features, such as the gargoyles of the church of Notre-Dame, the strange creatures that protect the walls from the rain. Several can also be seen around the church’s apse, and a perched one on the cornice of a house, though no one knows why. Urban legends, say that to thank a town notable, the architect gifted him with an unused gargoyle. Continuing the walk, the lanes bring back a golden era of private townhouses, built for wealthy and privileged townsfolk. Ornamented with towers which signalled their social ranking, the townhouses are still fine-looking. On the doorstep of Swiss Normandy, Écouché is one of the small towns where country walks lead to Saint-Michel.

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