Putanges Pont-Ecrépin is a small market town surrounded by several smaller rural villages and hamlets with a total population of 1039. It is an industrial, commercial, craft and tourist centre formed from the union of two original villages situated on either side of the River Orne. The village of Putanges was created in the 13th century on a hill overlooking the meander of the river. All that remains today is an old manor house with its chapel and cemetery in Vieux Putanges.

This village developed later much lower on the banks of the Orne. Its growth was based on iron work, with the old forge near to the landing stage the only remaining evidence. The charm of this village at the heart of Swiss Normandy was praised by the Norman writer Gustave Levavasseur (1819-1896), a friend of Charles Baudelaire: "Everyone knows this admirable little valley where the town of Putanges sits on granite rocks at its centre... Even the rough and rugged rocks seem to rise as high as the first floor. The houses seem to be eagles' nests on the top of a rock..." The typical old houses are built directly onto these granite buttresses. It is well worth a detour to see the second original village, Pont-Ecrépin, with its church and old houses built on granite pedestals. This church was built in 1822 on the hill "La Roche", dominating the valley and making this place quite special. Its bell-tower, in the shape of a candle-snuffer, was designed by a priest from Alsace. You can see about 15 similarly shaped church towers in the Danube valley.

Numerous artists have been seduced by the subtlety of the light on the river and the nearby lake which makes the scenery so attractive. The critically acclaimed painter Gaston Lefavrais was born in Putanges in 1913. "A Norman by birth, Lefavrais paints the Norman scenery completely naturally, using a broad brush. His joy in painting is reflected not only in the woods and villages which he treats so well, but also in his well-crafted still life, detailed bouquets and realistic portraits... he has a solid temperament." (A. Weber, "L'Amateur d'Art")

Since 1996 the Tourist Office has organised its annual "Painters' Day" during the spring in homage to Gaston Lefavrais.

Tourist Office of Putanges - 1 Grande Rue - Putanges-Pont-Ecrépin - 61210 Putanges-Le-Lac
+33 (0)2 33 35 86 57 - ot.putanges@orange.fr

Photo credit : Olivier Caillebotte - archiveuro.com