Normandy enjoys a particularly succulent gastronomic panorama that ranges from the wonders of the fish to the full-bodied flavours provided by the two main ingredients of Normandy cuisine, salted butter and soft cheeses.
Everything that is butter, cream, milk and cheese goes to make up most of the recipes that are specifically called à la normande. In short, a rich, full-bodied and caloric cuisine that will enchant lovers of good food.
Fishing is one of the most important activities in the coastal area of Normandy and this is automatically reflected in its seafood cuisine.
Don’t miss out on fresh fish and seafood binges such as the plateau de fruits de mer, a gargantuan portion of oysters, langoustines, scallops, prawns, mussels, clams, crabs and lobster.
Thanks to the verdant pastures and good air, meat, lamb and poultry are part of Normandy cuisine generally served with Calvados and cider-based sauces. Don’t hesitate to try all these tasty dishes.
Normandy with its wonderful pastures is the undisputed kingdom of cheese.
Not only is Lower Normandy the birthplace of one of the world’s most famous cheeses Camambert, but an incredible variety of cheeses, all tasty and flavoursome, are produced here.
The home of apples and butter cannot fail to have a long, rich and tasty pastry tradition.
Normandy’s alcoholic production is also based on the main element of its cuisine, apples, of which Normandy is a major producer.
Visiting the region’s main tourist attractions can be enlivened by sampling the local specialities, which are an essential and unique component of your trip to Normandy.
We have therefore prepared a food and wine itinerary for you to draw on during your stay in Normandy to taste and discover the flavours and aromas of Normandy cuisine.
Rouen, the beautiful city of the Impressionists, boasts excellent dishes such as Caneton Rouennais, a delicacy so famous that it has its own association of specialised chefs, the Ordre des Canadiers. The dish is a little macabre but remains absolutely exceptional: in fact, the duck is strangled, pressed and baked together with a red wine sauce in which the liver, blood and heart are also cooked. One of the best restaurants to enjoy it is Les Nympheas, which serves the best traditional dishes in town.
For more delicate palates, the city’s pastry shops also reveal several surprises, such as les larmes de Jeanne d’Arc, roasted almonds glazed with caramel or chocolate.
The best artisanal chocolate in the city is that of Auzou where you can taste no fewer than 18 different types of macaroons.
Dieppe is a charming port town with a rich seafaring tradition and is teeming with small restaurants offering the many Norman fish specialities such as the excellent scallops.
But the real culinary gem of Dieppe is the marmite dieppoise, a fish stew cooked in an earthenware pot and made with prawns, mussels, fish and mushrooms.
The ancient distillery of Bénédictine, a convent elixir prepared with a secret recipe of 27 herbs and spices by the Venetian monk Bernardo Vincelli, is one of Normandy’s speciality liqueurs. The recipe dates back to the Renaissance and was lost in 1791 and only rediscovered by chance in 1863.
Fécamp is also a great place to taste the particularly tasty Sole Normande, sole à la Normande.
This beautiful town has a long fishing tradition and its best known product is certainly the grey shrimp. You can still see an original shrimp fishing boat, the Sainte-Bernadette, classified as a historical monument.
In October, the Shrimp Festival takes place, an excellent opportunity to taste the different recipes and a confirmation of the town’s seafaring vocation. You can attend concerts of sailors’ songs, shrimp shucking competitions and gatherings of old sailing ships.
One of Normandy’s most renowned gastronomic traditions is cheese. A particularly tasty example is the cheese produced in Pont-l’Évêque, of the same name: it is a soft, aromatic cheese reminiscent of the rich pastures in the countryside between Deauville and Lisieux. This cheese, which you will find in every cheese shop in town, is the oldest in Normandy and legend has it that it was born in an abbey.
Don’t miss the Cheese Festival on the second weekend in May: in addition to tasting this delicacy, you can also attend the awarding of prizes for the best cheeses and craft fairs.
Another exquisitely typical product of this area is Calvados. This liqueur perfectly reflects the beauty of this area: lush green meadows, apple orchards and a gentle, evocative countryside. An excellent mansion for tasting calvados is the Château Breuil, an internationally renowned place for quality and production as well as a beautiful castle.
Also on the road from Deauville to Pont-l’Évêque is one of the main producers of Calvados, the Domaine Coeur de Lion: here you can taste and buy the aromatic liqueur so loved by the Normans.
Although less famous than Camembert, Livarot is a prestigious cheese that requires very complex processing, with several washes and a month of ripening to achieve its best flavour.
If you are a cheese enthusiast, you can follow the best cheese-tasting itinerary in Normandy at the le Village Fromager cheese dairy: you can follow the entire preparation of the cheese and taste its different qualities
According to legend, it was Marie Harel who, in 1791, stole the recipe from Father Brie, whom she had offered refuge to during the revolution.
Since then, this tiny village has been the home of the world-famous creamy, fragrant cheese of the same name. Today, as much as 15,000 tonnes of Camenbert are produced here. It is made from unpasteurised cow’s milk and two different types of mould in a process that takes about three weeks. The typical round wooden boxes were specially designed by a local engineer, Monsieur Ridel, to allow buyers to transport the delicious cheese even on long journeys.
Don’t miss a visit to the Maison du Camembert followed by some excellent tastings. A good alternative is the Fromagerie Durand, especially if you want to take a few boxes home, or visit the many farms in the area.
For those who have decided to buy the cheese, we advise you to check its state of maturity by squeezing it (in fact, the best Camembert should be soft but not melted) and not to store it in the refrigerator as it should be enjoyed at room temperature.
Another Normandy speciality is black pudding, or boudin, a rich and hearty dish that many may not like but which boasts such a deep-rooted tradition that it even has a dedicated congregation: this particular black pudding is made with one third pig’s blood, one third onions and one third pork fat.
The village of Mortagne-au-Perche, beautiful to explore on foot and full of turrets and half-timbered houses, has in fact been producing this delicacy since time immemorial and dedicates a festival to it, the Foire du Boudin during Lent.
Caen‘s typical dish is tripe, traditionally cooked here as ‘Tripes à la mode de Caen’, a recipe devised in 1500 by the monk Sidoine Benoit of the Abbey aux Hommes. Tradition has it that a competition is held every year to reward the best creation of this dish. The winners are awarded the ‘Tripiére d’or’, a coveted prize in the unmistakable shape of the traditional ‘trippiera’ in which this speciality is still cooked by Normandy housewives.
A visit to the town of Bayeux can be enlivened by tasting another Norman speciality, the cochon de Bayeux, a particularly tasty loin of pork that is braised in the oven: tender, tasty, lean and served with jelly and cider. Where to taste the best cochon in town? At the Lior d’Or, a restaurant where you can really pamper yourself.
In this delightful seaside town, you can enjoy the best seafood in Normandy: a triumph of oysters, boulots, bigorneaux, shellfish, mussels, prawns, red crabs, scallops, all freshly taken out of the nets. It is the home of coquilles St-Jacques, a particular variety of scallop, a Normandy sea speciality!
Every morning, the harbour and especially the halle de la crée come alive with the fish market for the wholesalers’ fish auction, while on the seafront you will find plenty of small restaurants specialising in fish: you will be spoilt for choice!
The second weekend in November is the Festival of Coquille St-Jacques and fishing products. Don’t miss these two days of maritime tradition: during the event, you will be able to enjoy a festival of European sailors’ songs, the sale and tasting of the day’s catch, guided visits to fishing boats and the shipyard, net mending demonstrations, and a sailor’s knot workshop.
Not far from Omaha Beach, you will find Isigny is a coastal village best known for its caramels: sweets made with butter, sugar, cream, milk, the best Normandy ingredients, all made from milk and caramelised.
There are many varieties: bonbon drops, caramel fondants, caramelised popcorn, caramel biscuits, hard caramels to melt slowly in your mouth, crème caramel to spread on toast, and much more. If you want to take these delicacies home, you can go to Normandie Caramels, a company that produces no less than 300 tonnes of sweets made from Normandy milk.
Another speciality of Isigny is butter, which has obtained its own AOC (Appellation d’Origine Controlée): with its incredible production of excellent milk, Normandy boasts the best butters in Europe with which most à la normande dishes are made, i.e. accompanied by a butter, cream or cheese sauce.
This tiny seaside village, unknown to most tourists, is a great place to eat seafood and enjoy the seascape.
From here you can set off to visit the Cotentin peninsula with a stop at another great seaside place for gastronomy, Barneville-Carteret: here you can taste pieds-de-cheval the famous flat oysters typical of this area.
Here you can enjoy Andouille de Vire, a cured sausage made from pig intestines, including small and large intestines, and stomach, smoked in beech wood for several weeks. It can be eaten hot or cold.
Our food and wine itinerary concludes with a real treat that you will only find in Mont-Saint-Michel: agneau de pré-salé. The salt marsh lamb is bred specifically in the bay of the famous monastery, subject to the cyclical return of the waters. This first gives the grass and then the lambs that wild, savoury aroma that you can only taste in these places.