Before I start you have to learn one french word: pomme, f., meaning apple (fruit).
This month is interspersed with jours fériés, conveniently falling on Tuesday or Thursday, allowing us to make a four day weekend or faire le pont. This turned out to be a great opportunity to travel around France a bit, exploring different regions.
Last weeked I went to the small town in Lower Normandy called Honfleur. A beautiful picturesque town and a small port is situated on the estuary of the Seine right across Le Havre. Tall, slate covered and half-timbered houses and narrow streets give the impression of being in an old movie or some sort of a fantasy story.
And as if it's not enough there is a wide sandy beach with a view on Pont de Normandie.
Normandy is most know for its apples. As I have seen, they put apples everywhere. They even prepare rhum with them (rhum arrangé). Normandy is also a birth place of a popular pastry brioche.
Many restaurants in the port offer seafood dishes, the best in the region being coquilles Saint-Jacques or scallops.
Surprisingly (or not as much), people seem to be nicer than in Paris, especially the waiters (eventhough, after you've experienced parisian waiters all other seem like your best friends). We had a lovely laugh with a waiter at the beautiful cafe in the port. A friend asked if they had "normandy pie" meaning of course tarte normande, leaving the waiter astounded for a while after which he gave us a a big whaaat ? When the misunderstanding was solved we found they did not have it, but we were able to taste it later in a local boulangerie. It wasn't a tipical tarte normande made with apples and almonds with a caramelised egg-custard, but it was good nonetheless (while we were observing the window filled with pies and pastries trying to decide what else to take, a lady behind us took the last piece of the "true" tart).
I also tried gateau aux fromage blanc similar to croatian sweet fresh cheese pie that I wasn't able to find in Paris. Divine.
Normandy is the most important cider-producing region of France. There are little shops scattered around town selling ciders and a special Normandy apple brandy -
Calvados. All of the products carry the AOC mark
(appellation d'origine controlée), a mark that guarantees the product and the ingredients come from the specific geographical area and are
produced in a traditional way. There are lots of products in France carrying this mark, allowing you to be sure in their origin.
About 20 minutes from Honfleur there is another city, or should I say cities, Trouville and Deauville, separated by the small river Touques before she flows into the English Channel. Deauville is one of the famous French seaside resorts where (wealthy) mostly parisian families come to spend their weekends. Deauville is therefore ofter called the 21st arrondisement of Paris. It was there that Coco Chanel opened one of her first boutiques and you can still find a lot of haute couture shops, five star hotels, a racecourse...
The only discomfort was the changing wheather and an extremely strong wind. I ended up being full of sand.
A proper cure was a glass of good cider.
I will definitely come back and taste more of Normandy. I won't miss to inform you when I do.