When in 1988 Allan John Hackett discovered the Souleuvre Valley in Orne, he fell in love with this wonderful place and this bridge built according to Gustave Eiffel’s plans. The New Zealand entrepreneur, the founder in 1988 of the first permanent bungee jumping site, the Kawarau Bridge Bungy in New Zealand, decided to settle in Normandy and rehabilitate Souleuvre to install the only bungee jumping site in Europe for his company AJ Hackett International, its Mayor “AJ Hackett Normandie”. Today, the area of 12 hectares is taking a new strategic turn to develop new attractions. “We want to diversify activities, offering new experiences to open up to more family clients,” explains Alan John Hackett, CEO of AJ Hackett International (400 employees worldwide, $20 million turnover). The director wants to invest between two and three million euros over the next five years in new attractions on the Souleuvre site, which currently welcomes more than 100,000 people each year.
Family amusement park
Stamped “Bungee Jumping” for more than 30 years, Souleuvre has been striving to renew its image. The transformation began in May 2021, with a new name being adopted: AJ Hackett Normandie became “Skyparc Normandie” in order to highlight all the site’s aerial animation and showcase the theme of the theme park. “Some people are reluctant to come to us, for fear of individual activity. We have had to respond by offering, in this amazing location, wider outdoor activities, with strong or softer sensations and intended for the whole family. Since the Covid crisis, he has longed for nature and picnics in the air. The Souleuvre site is ideally placed to meet these new desires for green tourism.”
First Daylight Seeing Attraction in June 2022 Sky Cube, 60m high suspended glass cube: “The 1m 80 x 1m 80 cube will be accessed at the end of a 15m footbridge. In transparent glass, the cube can bear weight It ranges from approximately 400 kg to 500 kg. The visitor will have the impression of being suspended above the void,” explains AJ Hackett. Then it will come in 2023, the construction of a rope bridge between the two bridge piers, the installation of a drop-leaf and “a very rare attraction, a zip line for two and three people”, detailing the CEO whose aim is to attract new customers: “Not only local visitors, but also people who would not hesitate to cross all of France to discover its unique attractions.
The idea is to build customer loyalty, and in general encourage tourists to stay longer in Normandy. With that in mind, the New Zealand CEO wants to expand the site. In fact, the company has just acquired an additional 8 hectares for the construction of unusual accommodation “fully integrated in nature”.
The Souleuvre site, which employs about ten permanent employees (25 employees in the summer), makes more than half of its sales, in the high season, from June to September, i.e. 1.2 million euros all year round. Since the site opened in 1990, more than 270,000 people have “jumped” from the top 61 meters of the old railroad bridge pile that overlooks the valley.