Enjoy a gastronomic foodie holiday in Normandy: taste oysters, scallops, herrings, cheese and cider. It’s just a hop across the Channel with Brittany Ferries.
Did you know that oyster farmers in Normandy produce roughly a quarter of all oysters produced in France? If you’re a lover of oysters, Saint-Vaast-la-Hougue in the north-east corner of the Cotentin Peninsula is a particularly good place to go. Saint-Vaast oysters are well known for their subtle nutty flavour and are delicious eaten raw, whether with zingy lemon juice or sharp shallot vinegar. Particularly popular in the autumn and winter months, no Christmas table in Normandy is complete without them.
Normandy is France's leading region for scallop fishing and the quality of its scallops is officially acknowledged with a ‘Red Label’. Taste some of the very best scallops in the fishing village of Port-en-Bessin, which celebrates its catch with a dedicated festival, Le Goût du Large (10-11 November 2018). The season begins in October and runs until May. There are a number of other scallop fairs and festivals in Normandy to keep you going through the winter: in Villers-sur Mer in October; in Ouistreham in November and in Grandcamp-Maisy in December. All offer an excellent opportunity to buy (and taste!) top-quality scallops direct from local fishermen.
November 2018 sees a repeat of Lieurey’s famous Foire aux Harengs (Herring Festival). An hour’s drive inland from the port of Le Havre, Lieurey welcomes 10,000 visitors to the festival each year, a tradition dating back to the 15th century when merchants delivering herrings to soldiers stopped in the village during a snowstorm, and decided to sell the fish to the villagers so it wouldn’t go to waste. Every year, horse drawn carriages bring kilos of herring to Lieurey to commemorate what happened centuries ago. Activities include a herring contest, stalls selling herring themed treats, cooking demonstrations, family rides in a horse-drawn carriage and pony rides for the children.
Other November herring festivals take place in Dieppe, Fécamp, Le Tréport and Saint-Valery-en-Caux.
Normandy produces four of France’s most popular cheeses – Camembert, Livarot, Neufchâtel and Pont-l'Évêque – and a tour and tasting at a Norman farm is a must for any dairy lover. Neufchâtel is the oldest of Normandy’s four cheeses and is easy to identify – it’s the heart-shaped one! Legend has it that during the Hundred Years War between France and England, Norman girls would give English soldiers Neufchâtel as a token of their affection. To celebrate their rich, creamy cheese, the town of Neufchâtel-en-Bray, 45 minutes inland from the port of Dieppe, created its very own cheese festival (15-16 September 2018). The event makes for a fun day out where the family can pick up Neufchâtel recipes, go for a tasting or two, buy local products at the market and enjoy entertainment galore. There will also be a Neufchâtel themed evening meal followed by music and dancing.
What better way to ward off the autumn chill than with a warming glass of Norman cider? October sees a major cider festival held in Beuvron-en-Auge, one of Normandy's most picturesque villages deep in the countryside. Browse market stalls selling local produce, see how cider is made and enjoy live folk music and family entertainment, all surrounded by picture-perfect scenery.
Later on in November, the village of Le Sap holds its traditional Fête du Cidre à l'ancienne an hour south of Ouistreham. It celebrates the ancient art of cider making and the traditional practice of using a working horse to power the apple press, demonstrations of which take place at regular times over the two days. There’s a great atmosphere, with music, dancing, pony rides for the children, and market stalls selling local products. In addition to your freshly pressed cider, you can also enjoy a baguette with your favourite Norman cheese or an apple tart.
Get there with Brittany Ferries
The best way of exploring Normandy is in the comfort of your own car, packed with everything you need. With Brittany Ferries you can sail direct to Normandy, choosing either a cruise ferry service from Portsmouth to Caen or Le Havre, or from Poole to Cherbourg.
Plan your trip to Normandy with Brittany Ferries.