For a family holiday with flavour Normandy is your answer. This easy-going corner of France is also home to some of the country’s best food. This is largely due to its geography; with an extensive coastline and an abundance of farmland, Normandy’s cuisine benefits from fresh seafood and rich dairy produce.
The best way to get to Normandy from the UK is via Brittany Ferries who sail to Caen, Cherbourg and Le Havre. From these three ports it’s easy to head off and enjoy all that this region has to offer from picturesque, fairytale villages and major historical sites to beautiful beaches, stunning countryside and, of course, oodles of delicious food.
There are certain Normandy dishes that you simply must try on your foodie family road trip. Arguably one of the region’s most famous fish dishes is Marmite Dieppoise. This rich fish stew is made with molluscs, crustaceans and fish, with lashings of butter and cream. According to local lore, it was made popular in the 1960s when a tavern near the quays in Dieppe would make a stew with the leftovers of the catch. Although this dish is served throughout the region if you head to its birthplace, you’ll also be able to visit the Saturday morning market, which was voted second best in France in 2019.
Another market you should bookmark is the weekly Saturday one in the town of Bayeux. Schedule a stop here before catching the ferry back from Caen and stock up on cheeses to take home. Normandy is home to some of the best cheeses in France with the most famous of all being Camembert. The other classics you should buy are Pont-l’Évêque, Livarot and Neufchâtel, one of the oldest cheeses in France, dating back to the 6th century.
For families of meat-eaters, there are other options. One of the best dishes that captures the flavours of the ocean is Agneau de Pré-salé. This meadow-salted lamb comes from the Bay of the Mont Saint-Michel and parts of the Cotentin Peninsula. Here, sea water naturally permeates the fields where the sheep graze resulting in a salty cut of meat. It’s a practice that dates back 1,000 years and is now protected under French law. The Mont-Saint-Michel itself is famous for the unfathomably fluffy – and mouth-wateringly good - Mère Poulard omelette that is cooked over high heat in a copper skillet.
Head away from the coast for a moment and to the beautifully preserved medieval town of Villedieu-les-Poêles. This town is known as the ‘city of copper’ and is well worth a visit for kids looking for a break from seafood.
Tarte aux pommes is another dish that kids love, made with Normandy’s famous apples. Apple orchards have existed in this corner of France since at least the 8th century and there are now 800 varieties of apples grown here. Two other well-known apple products produced in the region are Normandy Cider and Calvados.
If you plan your family trip to Normandy during the summer months then you’ll be able to enjoy some of the festivals taking place. As well as local festivals celebrating shrimp (Honfleur), herrings (Lieurey) and mackerels (Trouville-Sur-Mer), there’s a new event for 2020 being held on the Alabaster Coast: Fécamp Grand Escale. This four-day nautical festival will be held in July and promises a flotilla of traditional sailing boats alongside plenty of heavenly seafood.