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Normandy Revisited

My husband and I have just returned from our trip to Normandy and we had such a wonderful time! The first few days were a little wet, but the days following were absolutely picture perfect. In addition to visiting all the stunning and provocative places, already on our itinerary, we also tried out new places and made new discoveries.
Chateau de Breuil was amazing and we learned about the history and mechanics of making the famous Calvados and Pommeau. Of course we got to taste it afterwards and we picked up some bottles for ourselves and our friends back home. We also used this opportunity to discover a few lesser known distilleries near Livarot and the owners were kind enough to show us around and give us a taste of their fabulous products. We also discovered in Livarot, a wonderful fromagerie- Le Village Fromager -that makes the famous Livarot, Camembert, and Pont l’Eveque cheeses and we had a great time watching the molding and binding of these delicious cheeses. Yum!

We decided to start our visit to the D Day Beaches with a stop at Pegasus Bridge. On the way there, we learned the story of the amazing landing the British made in the huge Horsa gliders by the riverside. We were really excited to see the bridge and the Café Gondree which also played an integral part in the victorious outcome. What a celebration of humans’ determination against all odds. Pointe Du Hoc and the American Memorial Cemetery were even more poignant than we remembered, and as it was the week following the June 6 anniversary we saw many former servicemen in their colored berets also remembering …

We also used this opportunity to take many walks in the area and discovered many new paths. One night we went down to the 1,000 yr. old church in the small village of Vieux pont en Auge and it was both amazing and a little eerie. we took a lot of pictures and I watched the glow of the light against the old stone walls, and listened to the wind rustling through the trees. It was as if I were experiencing a surreal light and sound show.

Of course, our trip to Normandy wouldn’t be complete without several sojourns to the nearby town of St. Pierre sur Dives. We took many walks visiting the Jardin Conservatoire, the abbey, and of course our favorite bar, Le Greenwich (so named because it is located on the Greenwich Mean Time). We also visited the marketplace (Les Halles) which hosts a food market every Monday and an antique market the first Sunday of every month.

On this trip to St. Pierre, we also discovered a restaurant we hadn’t tried before-Eleven- at Hotel Du France. I had the steak and fries and my steak was perfectly done. My husband ordered the chicken, and although he enjoyed it, he was a little jealous when he saw the duck confit some of the other guests had ordered. He will try it on our next trip.

Another great little local place we discovered was Bar de la Fontaine in Boissey just about 1 mile from our gites. The owners were great and we loved the garden setting out back where we could sit and have drinks and enjoy a typical French meal and ambiance.

Falaise and William the Conqueror’s Castle began another memorable day, further enhanced by a walk through the nearby majestic L’Eglise Sainte Trinite, and intimate streets lined with charming restaurants and stores. On the way back, we could not resist exploring the remarkable Chateau de Vendeuvre with its exquisitely laid out gardens and surprising interiors.

Our hosts at the gites where we stayed made some very memorable meals including one night when we dined in the restaurant on the beautiful 2-acre property. We feasted on appetizers of goat cheese and tapenade tarts followed by platters of pates, sliced salami, Parma ham, cornichons (gherkins), and boiled eggs stuffed with sour cream. This was followed by a trou Normand which is a sorbet with Calvados poured over it. This is used to cleanse the palette. Next came platters of sautéed carrots and green beans, roasted baby potatoes sprinkled with diced bacon, and perfectly grilled steaks accompanied by a mushroom sauce. It was blissful! We ended with a delicious dessert. Of course, everything was washed down by some great French wine.

Just being in and driving through Normandy is so amazing, you feel you are in a movie production. The views envelop you and if you gaze to the left, you miss an experience on your right. The people are extremely friendly and welcoming, and the food is varied and delicious. Visiting this wonderful part of France always leaves you wanting more, which is why we go back again and again, and again….