The Mortain waterfalls: a haven of greenery in the Bay of Mont Saint-Michel

Our suggestions for visiting the waterfalls and nearby sites
Photo, © Aymeric Picot

While the coast in Manche naturally attracts visitors, the inland areas and their famous bocage landscapes won’t disappoint. This is true of the less well-known Mortain region, where you’ll find two magical waterfalls: the Grande Cascade and the Petite Cascade. A place for walking, climbing, cycling and family activities, Mortain is also known for its legends. Let your imagination run wild and go back to the time of King Arthur, fairies, elves and wood sprites. Open your eyes and ears and discover this unspoiled place and its surroundings that are well worth a visit!

What to see at the Mortain waterfalls

The waterfalls at Mortain are not to be missed during a stay in la Manche, and especially in the Bay of Mont Saint-Michel. Here, two rivers, the Cance and the Cançon, flow through an area once known as the “Mont Saint-Michel mountains”, plunging over two waterfalls, the Petite Cascade and the Grande Cascade.

Photo, © Aymeric Picot

The Petite Cascade
a peaceful spot

Surrounded by lush greenery, the Petite Cascade is a lovely place for a shady walk. It’s located in a deep gorge carved by the river Cançon, and is made up of several small cascades. The walk there is an easy one, with steps cut into the rocks next to the waterfall and small wooden bridges. During heavy rainfall, the Cançon carries clay sediments, giving it an unusual colour and its nickname, the “golden river”. Keep your eyes open!

Pont du Diable
and Rocher de l’Aiguille 

During your walk, you’ll see the Rocher de l’Aiguille (Needle Rock), standing at around 30 metres high. There are lots of legends surrounding this site, which is now a well-known climbing spot. A bit further on, by the Petite Cascade, you’ll find the Pont du Diable (Devil’s Bridge). Are you brave enough to cross the bridge, knowing that legend has it the Devil built it in exchange for a hostage? Beware if you’re the first one to cross!

The Grande Cascade
the largest waterfall in western France

Unique in Normandy, the Grande Cascade in Mortain is also the largest in western France. It has a 25-metre drop, fast-flowing water and a unique rocky setting. The river Cance flows through Armorican sandstone hills covered in dense vegetation. You can follow a path that runs alongside the waterfall, from top to bottom. Right at the top of the Grande Cascade, you’ll find the Abbaye Blanche, a 17th century Cistercian abbey. An emblematic monument of the Mortain region, you can visit the abbey in summer on a guided tour organised by the tourist office.

Photo, © David Daguier - CD50

When to go to the Mortain waterfalls

In spring: You can visit the waterfalls free of charge all year round. In May and June, the rhododendrons are in flower, filling the site with spectacular colours: pink, blue and yellow. A beautiful sight in a calm and peaceful setting!

In summer: If it gets too hot in summer, you can enjoy a cool dip in the waterfalls at Mortain.

In autumn: If you want to see some amazing colours, autumn is the ideal season. Pleasant temperatures, golden light and colourful leaves… don’t forget your camera!

What to do near the Mortain waterfalls

Make the most of your trip to the Mortain waterfalls and stay a bit longer. With walking trails, cycling, climbing and family activities, the Mortain region is ideal for outdoor pursuits.

Photo, © Captain Yvon

Hiking: the Mortain ridges and monuments route

On this 13 kilometre hiking trail, you’ll discover the Mortain region and its legends. Starting at the Château in Mortain, the circular route takes you past the Saint-Evroult collegiate church, the Chapel of Saint-Michel with its view of Mont Saint-Michel, the waterfalls and the Rocher de l’Aiguille. Enjoy this lovely walk!

Hiking in Mortain

Le Village Enchanté: a family theme park

Around 10 kilometres from Mortain, head for Bellefontaine and its Village Enchanté. This outdoor theme park is the perfect place for a family day out. With zip lines, water balls, mini golf, inflatables, a treetop adventure, rides and a rope bridge, there’s plenty to do for all ages! Please note: the park is only open in July and August.

Le Village Enchanté

Ger pottery museum

The village of Ger, 10 minutes from Mortain, was a thriving centre of pottery manufacture in Normandy from the 14th to the 19th century, mainly producing stoneware pots. Today, there is a museum in an authentic pottery site offering different activities, such as guided tours, exhibitions, beginners’ pottery classes and even cosmetic workshops. A great way to find out all about this craft and to go home with a souvenir from la Manche.

Pottery meseum

Bike rides from the waterfalls

Two long-distance cycle routes go through Mortain: the Vélomaritime and the Véloscénie. From the waterfalls, you can go on a safe family bike ride along the Véloscénie route either to Barenton (10.5 km) or to Saint-Hilaire-du-Harcouet (11 km). The more experienced cyclists can push on to Mont Saint-Michel (55 km) or take the Vélomaritime route to Vire (42 km).

Discover the two long-distance cycling routes


Photo, © Un monde à Vélo - Véloscénie

Climbing at La Fosse Arthour

Around 20 kilometres from Mortain don’t miss an intriguing, wild spot called La Fosse Arthour. A 70 metre-deep gorge hollowed out of a rocky ridge, La Fosse Arthour is a good place for walking and climbing and has many legends attached to it. It’s said that King Arthur, ignoring his obligation to wait until nightfall to visit his wife, met his death there. Why not have a go at climbing to see this special site from up high? Climbing clubs offer different outings depending on your level, from beginner to advanced.

La Fosse Arthour

Photo, © Alexandre Lamoureux

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