Structured around a ridge line that stretches from east to west like a backbone, the Normandie-Maine Geopark is surprising with its rugged landscapes that are home to the highest points in western France. Rocky escarpments, screes, white-water sites and belvederes assert their identity -not the usual images of Normandy or the banks of the Loire.
600 million years of history as a legacy
The Geopark landscapes are the legacy of a long past which began 600 million years ago in the warm seas of the southern hemisphere. Life on earth is still not very diversified and limited to the aquatic environment. Intense volcanic activity then occurred 550 million years ago during the formation of the first mountain range: the Cadomian Massif. Then, 300 million years ago, near the equator, a second chain was formed: the Hercynian Massif, which is said to have peaked at over 4,000 m (Mont Blanc rises to 4,809 metres). It then slowly erodes to forge the reliefs we see today. Around 170 million years ago, the Paris Basin covered the foothills of this Armorican Massif and formed limestone environments typical of the east of the Geopark.
A strategic "cross-border" region
The Geopark bears the first traces of human history with prehistoric camps and those of Gallo-Roman occupations which made this territory a border area for many Gallic tribes. In the Middle Ages, many strongholds were established on these lands of passage between Normandy and Maine, in order to control them or to form a "buffer space". Up until to the Revolution, local administrative authorities came under the provinces of Normandy, Perche and Maine, reinforcing a cross-border character that continues to this day.
A territory classified as a Regional Natural Park since 1975
Located in the north west of France, the Geopark covers 2,650 km². It brings together 141 municipalities spread over two regions (Normandy, Pays-de-la-Loire) and four departments (Orne, Manche, Mayenne and Sarthe). Its governance is assured by the Normandy-Maine Regional Nature Park, which has been working with the region since 1975.