A 61 meter high platform on a granite pillar bridge, a luscious green and yellow Normandy landscape as the perfect backdrop and a thrill seeker eager to take a plunge. Those are the main ingredients for one of the most popular bungee jumping sites in France: the Viaduc de la Souleuvre. Who’s up for a scream?
In Ferrière-Harang, in the North of France, about a two and a half hour drive from Paris, a huge structure immediately stands out in the green valleys and hillsides of the Normandy countryside. It’s the ‘Viaduc de la Souleuvre’, or at least what’s left of it. The once impressive metallic railway construction, supported by five hand-cut granite pillars, was designed by Gustave Eiffel – yes, the same man that built the Eiffel tower! – in 1889. But during WWII, the allied forces partially destroyed the brigde to prevent the Germans from using the railway for military purposes. Apparently over 500 bombs were thrown but only a few of them actually hit the viaduct so it wasn’t completely demolished.
On top of the world at 61 meters
After years and years of neglect and decline, a Frenchman came up with the idea of turning the viaduct into a bungee jumping site. He teamed up with the New Zealander AJ Hackett to make it happen (AJ was the first man to commercialize bungee jumping in 1987) and so in 1989, the AJ Hackett adventure company set up a bungee jumping platform on the third pillar of the Souleuvre viaduct, along with two suspension bridges (140meters long) to get there. Walking on the bridges alone is an adventure, let alone making a 61m high jump from the third pillar… It may not be the highest bungee jumping site, but it’s definitely one of the most popular and beautiful locations in the whole of France.
A few bungee jumping facts:
- The bungee cords are made out of hundreds of strands of latex rubber.
- When you jump, you’re tied around your ankles and around your waist. At least here at the viaduct of Souleuvre!
- If you want, you can get your hands – or even your head – wet in the 5m deep artificial pool down below.
- By carefully measuring your weight and thickness of the cord, it’s possible to calculate your distance to the ground with a precision range of 50cm!
- AJ Hackett made his first bungee jump in 1987: he leaped off the Eiffel Tower in Paris – illegally, of course.
- The price for a single jump at the Viaduc de Souleuvre: 119 euro.