Normandy attractions here we come!
France is open for the summer. Our favourite holiday destination can be reached by plane, ferry or in your car through the relative safety of the Eurotunnel. Normandy is a beautiful and accessible region which has its own regional produce and character.
Normandy is often called La Manche, literally the ‘sleeve’ of France. It does rather have the shape of a small sleeve jutting out from the body of our favourite European country.
With 355 km of coastline, this region is home to the stunning Mont St Michel – a real fairytale island. It has it own markets and lots of orchards from which the famed Normandy cider is made.
The French still do prioritise their food. Meals are always an occasion and eaten in general, at the table. One of the top Normandy attractions are its markets. Always great for a day out, they sell a huge amount of choice of delicious local produce.
Saint Lo market is great example of a French market at its best . Markets are held on Tuesdays, Wednesday, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. The market is held on Tuesdays on rue Alsace Lorraine and on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays on place Général de Gaulle.
The most important is the Saturday market.
There is an extraordinary array of delicious food on offer. I’ve never seen so many different varieties of tomatoes. Green Zebras are an impressive striped variety and the vibrant display of orange and yellow ones is so pretty. The dark exotic Zulu tomatoes were also impressive.
All kinds of squash and pumpkins just come into season in September and you will also find black radishes and purple peppers.
Normandy attractions – lots of cheese!
Normandy is a cheese producing region. It has its great cows to thank for the abundance of rich milk that they produce. Normandy cows are an attractive breed with their distinctive spectacle markings around their eyes.
Well known specialty cheeses in Normandy include Camembert, Pavé d’Auge, Livarot, Pont l’Evêque, Neufchatel, Boursin, Brillat-Savarain and Brin de Paille.
If you love French soft cheeses, Normandy AOC cheesesare sure to send your tastebuds into meltdown:
- Buttery-textured Camembert de Normandie
- Strong-smelling Orange Livarot
- Creamy Neufchâtel, and
- Golden-coloured Pont-l’Évêque
At St Lo market every kind of cheese under the sun is for sale. Another Normandy speciality is Comte. Huge wheels of Comte are hard to miss!
Comte is made from unpasteurised cow’s milk and is one of the most popular varieties in France. It is made in huge circular discs and has a strong, slightly sweet taste. It also has its own distinctive aroma. If you open a fridge which is home to some Comte – your nose will know about it immediately.
St Lo market in Normandy
The town of Saint Lo has had quite a turbulent history. The third largest town in Normandy, it has been both a part of England and a part of France in its time. During WWII it held a strategic position at a crossroads and so was almost totally destroyed during its German occupation.
It was even questioned whether to rebuild it or leave the ruins intact as a testimony to the bombing. One American soldier apparently commented “We sure liberated the hell out of this place.”
These days things are more peaceful. You can wander the market buying giant prawns, oysters, locally made Cidre, bread and beans. You know that every single thing you buy will taste so much better than its English supermarket counterpart.
Try a delicious Galette – the famous Normandy savoury crepe with tasty fillings. The French have resisted the onslaught of tasteless processed food. The trend is changing however, and sales of white sliced bread are apparently on the increase, and set to replace the daily baguette. It’s a slippery slope.
Eating out in Normandy
French villages usually have at least one little old cafe offering a lunchtime special. The village of Villebourdon is one such village.
The lunchtime special here at Les Routiers consists of a four course meal for 11 Euros plus an aperitif. This is usually some wine with a liqueur in it followed by some delicious local Cidre.
In this case the liqueur was Creme de Mur – blackberry liqueur. Very tasty. Next there is a buffet selection of salads and meats, steak and frites or jambon. It is rounded off with a dessert and a coffee.
The French do take lunch very seriously, but I defy anyone to go back to work after that.
The Normandy landings
Normandy is a region with a wealth of fascinating history. On June 6, 1944 the Allied Forces of Britain, America, Canada, and France attacked German forces on the coast here. With a huge force of over 150,000 soldiers, the Allies attacked and gained a victory that became the turning point for World War II in Europe. This famous battle is D-Day, or the Invasion of Normandy. Soon the main invasion force of over 6,000 ships carrying troops, weapons, tanks, and equipment approached the beaches of Normandy.
Omaha and Utah Beaches
American troops landed at Omaha and Utah beaches. The Utah landing was successful, but the fighting at Omaha beach was fierce. Many US soldiers lost their lives at Omaha, but they were finally able to take the beach.
There is a D Day Museum at Arromanche les Bains which gives lots more information about what happened here at that turbulent time.
The Mont St Michel and the Bayeux tapestry are top Normandy attractions. The food and wine and sunshine are pretty nice too!
More about the Mont St Michel