Normandy is justly famous for its cheeses, ciders, galettes and seafood. You'll find the broadest array of restaurants in Rouen, which offers both traditional and creative French cooking, as well as an influx of ethnic cuisine. You'll find great seafood restaurants scattered all along the coast, though Honfleur and neighbouring towns deserve special mention for outstanding coastal and regionally focused dishes.
Feature: Norman Cuisine
Normandy's magnificent culinary riches more than make up for the famous dearth of local wines – and besides, any self-respecting Norman would rather wash down a meal with a pitcher of tart cider or calvados (apple brandy).
This is a land of cream, soft cheeses, apples and an astonishingly rich range of seafood and fish. Classics to look out for include coquilles St-Jacques (scallops), available from October to May, and sole dieppoise (Dieppe sole). Don’t forget your trou normand (‘Norman hole’), the traditional break between courses of a meal for a glass of calvados to cleanse the palate and improve the appetite for the next course!
Feature: Camembert Country
Some of the most enduring names in the pungent world of French fromage come from Normandy, including Pont L’Évêque, Livarot and, most famous of all, Camembert, all of which are named after towns south of Honfleur, on or near the D579.
It’s thought that monks first began experimenting with cheesemaking in the Pays d’Auge area of Normandy sometime in the 11th century, but the present-day varieties didn’t emerge until around the 17th century. The invention of Camembert is generally credited to Marie Harel, who was supposedly given the secret of soft cheesemaking by an abbot from Brie on the run from revolutionary mobs in 1790. Whatever the truth of the legend, the cheese was a huge success at the local market in Vimoutiers, and the fabrication of Camembert quickly grew from cottage production into a veritable industry. The distinctive round wooden boxes, in which Camembert is wrapped, have been around since 1890; they were designed by a local engineer to protect the soft disc of cheese during its bruising long-distance travel.
If you’re interested in seeing how the cheese is made, you can take a tour of Maison du Camembert, an early-19th-century farm restored by Président, one of the largest Camembert producers. It’s in the centre of the town of Camembert, about 60km south of Honfleur.