Normandy is located in the Northwest of France, a quick two to three-hours drive from Paris.
Agriculture and the food industry are of the utmost importance to the region: almost 10% of the population works in these sectors and three quarters of the Normandy territory is dedicated to agriculture.
Normandy boasts approximately 370 miles of coastline, along which there are many well-known areas and landmarks. The Albâtre Coast is celebrated for its Etretat cliffs. Venturing South from here will bring you to the Flowered Coast, which is home to the lovely Honfleur port.
Next, you might consider a stay in Cabourg or Deauville to experience their wide beaches, prominent hotels and vibrant casinos. And for those who prefer fuller landscapes, a visit to the Cherbourg Peninsula is a must.
Before reaching the breathtaking Mont Saint Michel, you can make a historical stop at the D-Day Landing Beaches.
But the coast is not all that Normandy has to offer. The region also has vast inland territory throughout which fields and meadows demarcated by hedges and tree lines, known as Normand Bocages, alternate with stretched plains. The hilly and open terrain of the Bocages is primarily dedicated to livestock farming whereas the plains are commonly filled with field crops and wooded patches of oak, beech and pine.
Agriculture and animal productions
Reputed for its numerous cheeses, Normandy prides itself on its distinct cattle herds. The Normande is the aptly named cattle breed that hails from the region. This treasured breed is the third most prevalent in France in terms of number. The Normande can be bred as both a dairy and meat cow, but its milk is very unique and well adapted to cheese production, making it the most popular choice for the regions’ cheeses. Dairy farms currently represent 35% of the agricultural product regional output and its dairy cow population accounts for 16% of the dairy cows nationwide. The percentage of cattle production for meat is on the rise, however, and Nomandy is the region with the second highest number of cattle in the country.
Normandy is also known for its horses and has a lot as prestigious Haras (stud farms). Almost half of the French racing horses are registered in Normandy. This summer the international equestrian games will be held in Normandy to commemorate the seventieth anniversary of D-Day.
Another typical Normand product is apple that is processed in juice, cider, Pommeau (a kind of sweet wine) or Calvados (spirit made from twice distilled Norman Cider). Normandy has obtained various PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) and GI (Geographic Indication) for these products original products.
And the list goes on, with other important productions such as oysters, mussels, flax for linen, wheat, beetroots etc…
Specific products and gastronomy
Normandy possesses 13 PDO, mostly for dairy and processed apple products. Camembert cheese is one of such products, which is very popular among Americans. You might also recognize some of these other PDO cheeses: Livarot, Pont-l’Evèque and Neufchâtel. The Isigny butter and fresh cream are two other non-cheese high quality dairy products. Finally, the PDO Normand lamb meat derives its distinctive taste from the salty meadows of the Mont Saint Michel bay on which the lambs graze.
With respect to Normand recipes, here are some of the region’s gastronomic specialties.
- Caen’s fashion trips- a stew made from trips, beef foot, vegetables and Calvados.
- Vire’s Andouille.
- Teurgoule- a kind of rice pudding with cinnamon cooked during 5 hours.
- Calvados- often drunk as a digestive during festive meals: alone, with an apple sorbet or with coffee!
- The milk jelly, also known as Dulce de Leche in South America is a Norman specialty.
- Isigny’s caramels
- The Mère Poulard omelet can originally be degusted in the Mont Saint Michel.
- The Tatin Tart is the famous reversed apple pie from Normandy!
And many others that you can discover by going to visit Normandy!