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Cheese – The Undiscovered Journeys: Normandy, France

February 18, 2017 | 0 COMMENTS

This verdant swathe of northern France is today remembered mostly for the D-Day landings on its beaches in 1944. But this is an oversight of criminal proportions, as this verdant region combines rolling farmland with dramatic forests and hundreds of miles of stark coastline. Its cheeses, topped by the regal Camembert, also include the Pont-L’Evêque and Livarot, both heavyweights in their own right. Normandy’s love of the apple and the soil combine to create some of France’s finest produce in surrounds central to the never-ending tale of European history.

Mont Saint Michel

One of the most dramatic sights in France and one of the early candidates for the New Wonders of the World, the Mont Saint Michel is instantly recognizable. A 264-foot high rocky outcrop topped by an abbey and a golden statue of St. Michael, it can only be approached through a solitary causeway across sandy flats. Beware walking around below its walls, the incoming tide is the fastest in Europe and sweeps at the speed “of a galloping horse”, having claimed more than a few unwary travellers.

Chateau Gaillard

For 800 years, the towering fortress of Chateau Gaillard has kept watch over the winding Seine and the town of Les Andelys. Built by Richard the Lionheart to protect against French invasion, it has now become a center for medieval study and re-enactments.

Monet’s Garden at Giverny

Nestled in the heart of the region, the traditional village of Giverny was the retreat of Impressionist master Claude Monet, where he painted many of the bucolic scenes that made his fame.

Bayeux Tapestry

The longest tapestry in the world, it chronicles the invasion of Britain by William the Conqueror in 1066, including the fateful Battle of Hastings which saw King Harold take an arrow to the eye. Over 70 meters long, it has survived wonderfully for almost a millennia and is today one of the finest records of Medieval history in the world.


Oh woe to you whose only way with apples is to bite into a Granny Smith. Normandy has discovered the true secret of the forbidden fruit: the apple brandy known as Calvados. Watch yourself though, its first kiss can be delightful, its second can be a sucker punch.


Drive to any of the seaside cities in Normandy, Dieppe, Trouville or Deauville among many others. Walk alongside the wharf as the boats come in and hawk their wares in real fisherman’s markets. Sit in an unassuming restaurant and order a ‘plateau de fruits de mer’. Marvel at the three-tiered platter, containing mussels, oysters, whelks, clams, shrimp and crabs. Then proceed to stuff your face.

Camembert de Normandie

Although camembert is now made outside the region, the original ‘camembert de Normandie’ is a protected brand made purely with raw cow’s milk. Although it only accounts for 4 percent of the total production of camembert, one bite into its creamy interior will tell you why its fame has spread so far.

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