He introduced people to adrenaline-pumping experiences when he bungee jumped off the Eiffel Tower in 1987. AJ Hackett has set up bungee jump sites around the globe attracting thrill-seekers from all over the world. What fuels him? Creating unforgettable experiences in incredible places. One of them is the Souleuvre site in Calvados, the famous New Zealander’s only site in Europe. Let’s find out more.

Aj Hackett viaduc de la souleuvre

An unusual journey

3 years after his stunt at the Eiffel Tower when he introduced a little-known sport to a wider audience, Alan John Hackett opened his first and only site in Europe at the Souleuvre Viaduct in Normandy. “Back then, 33 years ago, I lived in Paris. A friend of mine got in touch and told me about this place with these amazing granite columns. It was love at first sight. Plus Gustave Eiffel designed the viaduct, which I love…” In a peaceful setting within a 3 hour drive of Paris: the green landscapes and endless countryside were an instant hit with the New Zealander. 

It's a fantastic place with real energy. The colours are incredible here in the valley, in autumn and spring!

The viaduct was built between 1887 and 1889 to Gustave Eiffel’s designs to take the Caen-Vire railway line across the Souleuvre Valley.

The entrepreneur began work to provide 61m high bungee jumps without disturbing the Natura 2000 site’s natural assets.

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All kinds of activities for all kinds of people!

It may be an extreme sport, but it’s an outlet for you to push your boundaries and face your fears surrounded by unforgettable scenery – a belief AJ Hackett has championed since the start and has been captured by all the Skypark by AJ Hackett sites since 2020. The solo and tandem jumps are about taking that leap with peace of mind. There’s no automation but instead “customisation” to keep you safe and sound. The experience is tailored to suit the jumper’s weight (choice of bungee cord) and whether they want to touch the water or not. The bungee’s set up is what makes the difference. What’s so special about the concept? This is more than just a jumping site; there’s something for everyone. Just take the giant swing: the only swing for 1-3 people that can reach speeds of 130kph in 3.5 seconds. Then there’s a giant zip-line that rips through the Souleuvre Valley along a 400m cable after a surprisingly speedy start. Let’s not forget the toboggan ride, run by a partner operator on the same site at the bottom of the viaduct, or the picnic area where you can soak up an idyllic landscape over lunch.

Le viaduc de la Souleuvre

Experiences and nature

The thrill-seeking and stylish 60-something already has 6 Skyparks around the globe (Macao, Singapore, Sotchi, Cairns, Queenstown and Normandy). Ever the entrepreneur, he likes to keep his finger on the pulse and tailor each of his sites to suit demand. He doesn’t have lots of new openings in the pipeline but lots of investments to provide more opportunities to face your fears. There’s a budget of 2-2.5 million euros on the table to restructure the different activities and provide new attractions in the unspoilt natural setting by 2025. The rides will be built on the former railway viaduct’s columns. There’s the SkySwing, a fresh take on a pendulum swing, and the SkyWalk, a path taking you around the first two columns and across the 60m between them: “a handrail-free footbridge at least 1 metre wide will be built with the adventurers secured by a safety rope above them.”

2 personnes sur le skycube viaduc de la souleuvre

With plans for a 15m multi-activity tower with a climbing wall, 15m bungee jump, viewing platform, quirky accommodation to make a holiday of it and redesigning the surroundings to protect and enhance the landscape, the future is looking bright for the Calvados site! This season sees the launch of the SkyCube for “a step into the abyss.” “Visitors take a 140m footbridge to column 2 and stand on the edge of it on a 1.8m x 1.8m cube platform entirely made of glass,” says site manager Mika Mulot. You have to walk across the Skybridge to get there, 61m above the ground. A taster of the abyss to become one with the Normandy landscape: at the end, unique all-round views of the Souleuvre Valley and its unspoilt, protected nature are yours for the taking.

 “Jumping here is out of this world”

Most of Skypark Normandie’s customers live within 300km of the site, but some come from much further afield! Just take Jérôme and Théo, who made the most of a weekend in May to escape Marseille to explore Normandy. What’s different about them? They’ve completed a hundred jumps between them! “We know all about bungee jumping. We work for Latitude Challenge where you can jump in the Gorges du Verdon or from the 182m high Pont de l’Artuby bridge!” They see it as an honour for them to jump at an AJ Hackett facility. “He’s the first! He’s the one who brought bungee jumping to Europe and sold it to the world.” There may be a huge difference in height between the Var and Normandy sites, but jumping the Souleuvre Viaduct is up there with the best: “the setting is truly amazing; it’s brilliant at home too but very rocky. You’re surrounded by greenery and fields here.” There’s something else that sets it apart for the thrill-seekers: being able to run and gain momentum to jump as well as being able to dive into the water 60m below if you want. 

It's out of this world! And it's very unusual – I actually think it's the only place you can do it in Europe.

skypark viaduc de la souleuvre

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