Basse Normandie




Basse-Normandie is often compared to the English countryside with hedgerows separating acres of apple orchards and pastureland.
You will discover some of France's best pungent cheeses and cider here.
The modern city of Caen is worth a visit not least for its abbey built by William the Conqueror.
The port of Cherbourg, further west, still operates as a important naval base.

The capital is Caen. The region is bounded by the Départements of Ille-et-Vilaine, Mayenne, and Sarthe to the south and Eure-et-Loir and Eure to the east. Manche and Calvados border the English Channel.



Famous French Celebrities from Basse-Normandie:

Fernand Léger (1881-1955), famous French painter born in Argentan (61).


Jean Marais (1913-1998), famour French actor, born in Cherbourg (50).


Georges Sorel (1847-1922), French politics thinker, born in Cherbourg (50).





The région of Basse-Normandie is composed of 3 départements


Calvados (14), Capital: Caen.

Famed for its pastoral land producing products such as butter, cheese and cider and of course the intoxicating apple brandy known as Calvados!
There are some elegant coastal resorts off the Cote Fleurie namely Trouville & Deauville (see below) backed by steep cliffs, green fields & fruit trees.


Further along the coast you'll come to the D Day beaches where Allied troops landed in 1944. The capital is Caen worth visiting for its two 11th century abbeys built by William the Conqueror as is Bayeux and its famous tapestry.
Inland, discover the Pays d'Auge with its wooded valleys, fields, cider orchards & half-timbered houses seen in the village of Beuvron-en-Auge, near Lisieux.


Manche (50), Capital: Saint-Lô

The Manche department is surrounded on three sides by the English Channel (La Manche in French).
The 320km coastline makes it perfect for touring by car or bicycle. Find unspoiled sandy beaches with rugged headlands around Cap de la Hague (see below) and Nez de Jobourg. This is the ideal spot for bird-watchers, with gannets and shearwaters nesting here.


The port of Cherbourg still acts as a naval base and is home to some worthwhile museums.
On the western tip stands one of France's most venerated attractions, Mont-St-Michel - the awesome island abbey! Inland the land becomes fertile, ideal for cattle & dairy farming & cider orchards.


Orne (61), Capital: Alençon

The Orne occupies part of inland Normandy - known for its meadows, orchards, forests of oak and beech trees, rivers, half-timbered houses, and traditional farmhouses.
Gastronomy is another good reason to come here with creams, apple & pear brandy, cider and soft cheeses such as Camembert being produced here.
The area is popular for walking, riding, climbing, canoeing and other river sports - particularly in the Parc Regional du Normandie-Maine.
On the edge of the nature reserve lies Alencon which has always been a prosperous town since its lace-making and tax collecting days of the 17th century.





Basse Normandie lists 3 "most beautiful villages of France" which are

Barfleur (Manche)


Beuvron-en-Auge (Calvados)


Saint-Céneri-le-Gérei (Orne)



Things to Do/See in Basse Normandie


Abbaye du Mont Saint Michel: this Gothic abbey has stood proudly for well over 1,000 years, and today is one of the most visited tourist attractions outside of Paris.



D-Day Beaches (Plages du Débarquement de la Bataille de Normandie): The famous D-Day landing beaches in Normandy were operational on the eve of 5th to 6th June 1944 when three airborne divisions were dropped. Meanwhile approaching by sea towards the 5 landing beaches were 135,000 men and around 20,000 vehicles. The rest is history.



Normandy American Cemetery & Memorial, Colleville-sur-Mer: Overlooking Omaha Beach, the launching point of the U.S. invasion of Normandy, this cemetery contains the graves of 9,386 American soldiers who died at Normandy and a touching memorial to another 1,557 whose bodies were never recovered.



Museum of the Bayeux Tapestry (Musée de la Tapisserie de Bayeux): this museum houses the famous Bayeux Tapestry, a 70-m long piece of embroidery that graphically tells the story of the 1066 Battle of Hastings.



Abbaye aux Dames, Caen: this fantastic church is light airy and has some of the most beautiful stonework.



More things to do at :




Festivals and Traditional Events


Display of Sainte Thérèse's Relics, Lisieux
The last Sunday of September is Sainte Thérèse's day, in honour of local saint, Thérèse de l'Enfant Jesus. The anniversary of her death, on 30 September, features a morning mass followed by a thousands-strong procession and a display of her relics.
Noël au Balcon - Street Theatre Festival, Deauville.
This is a Christmas event with a difference. Deauville hosts a one-day Street Theatre Festival, known as Noël au Balcon.
Anniversary of D-Day
June every year. Those who fought during the Allied D-Day operation in the Second World War are remembered on the beaches and in military cemeteries across Normandy each year. Services commemorate the landings in Caen and Bayeaux, a turning point in the war.
Sailors' Festival, Honfleur

June every year. The beautiful port of Honfleur honours its maritime tradition with the Fête des Marins (Sailors' Festival), one of northern France's prettiest sights. Each Whitsun local fishing boats, decorated with flowers, sail to the estuary to be blessed by a priest.

ArtSonic Music Festival

End of July in Briouze. With more than 13000 spectators, it showcases rock, punk, electronic and French artists.


Markets and Brocantes

In Normandy, markets are living proof of its love for old-fashioned values, tradition, authenticity and quality of life à la française. Markets across the region always have a colourful, lively and welcoming atmosphere, whether in a small hamlet or city centre.




8h - 13h30


8h - 13h30


8h - 13h30


7h30 - 13h30


7h30 - 13h30


7h30 - 14h30

Marché rue de Bayeux (in rue de Bayeux)

Marché de la Grâce de Dieu (in place du Commerce)

Marché du Calvaire Saint-Pierre (at rue de la Défense passive)

Marché de Venoix (at avenue Charlemagne)

Marché Boulevard Leroy (at place du Dr Henri Buot)
Marché de la Guérinière (at place de la Liberté)

Marché du Chemin Vert (at avenue du Président Coty)
Marché Saint-Sauveur (at Place Saint-Sauveur, rue Pémagnie, Fossés Saint-Julien)
Marché Boulevard Leroy (at place du Dr Henri Buot)

Marché de la Pierre-Heuzé (at Place Champlain)
Marché Saint-Pierre (at Place Courtonne, quai Vendeuvre de la Place Courtonne à la rue des Carmes)


Friday and Saturday morning at place du Général-de-Gaulle.



Thursday and Saturday morning, at place de la Magdeleine

Sunday Morning , marché de Courteille

Tuesday morning, Marché de Perseigne at place de la Paix




The Gastronomy of Basse Normandie


The Food

Famous through its history, Basse-Normandie is also known by its specialities which make the richness of a soil discover during a trip as well as in the plate. The gastronomy tends to run to the fish and seafood dishes, since it is fresh and abundant. However, they have some wonderful lamb, chicken and duck dishes that are quite tasty.

The cream cookery gives to Norman's escalopes a great marrowy. The Andouille de Vire wonderfull pays homage to the traditions porkbutchers of the area.


The apples and the butter, other regional symbols, were used by our grandmothers to carry out splendid tarts and other delights sweetened. Lastly, Normandy would not be what it is if we do not evoke the cider here, regional drink which, with poiré makes say to old: "Here cider is drunk as others drink wine".

Salted Butter Caramels from Lower Normandy are a gem of French confectionery! This mouth-watering sweet speciality is made out with Norman salted butter - especially from Isigny. Thus, toffees of this region of France are commonly named Caramels au Beurre d'Isigny.



The Cheeses

The great Normandy cheeses are Camembert [it's been around for hundreds of years], and between that and Brie are the two most consumed French cheeses worldwide. Then there is Brillat Savarin, a wonderful triple from Andouet,


Neufchâtel [similar but creamier and lighter, with a more distinguishing taste, than regular cream cheese], and the two 'stinky' cheeses of Livarot and Pont L'Evêque.



And now, why don't you try a yummy recipe from Normandy?!


Tarte aux Pommes avec crème fouettée
Apple and Cream Tart with Calvados Whipped Cream


serve 8 people


* 5 large Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and cut into large wedges
* 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and kept warm
* 1/2 cup sugar, plus 1 tablespoon
* 4 large eggs
* 3/4 cup creme fraiche
* 2 teaspoons, plus 1 tablespoon Calvados
* 1 prepared sweet tart crust, recipe follows
* 1 cup heavy cream
* 2 teaspoons confectioners' sugar, plus more for dusting


Prep time: 20 min

Cook time: 1h



Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

In a large bowl, toss the apples with the melted butter and 1 tablespoon of the sugar.

In a bowl fitted with an electric mixer, combine 1/2 cup sugar and eggs. Beat until pale and creamy, about 5 minutes. Add the creme fraiche and 2 teaspoons Calvados and beat for 1 minute.

Decoratively arrange the apples evenly over the bottom of the baked tart shell. Pour the cream mixture over the apples and spread to the edges. Bake until the cream is set and the apples are tender, 50 minutes to 1 hour.

Remove and cool on a wire rack for at least 1 hour.

In a medium bowl, beat the heavy cream until soft peaks start to form. Add 2 teaspoons of confectioners' sugar and the remaining tablespoon of Calvados and beat until stiff peaks start to form. Transfer to a decorative bowl.

Remove the tart from the pastry mold. Place on a platter, dust with confectioners' sugar, and serve with the Calvados whipped cream


For the Sweet Tart Dough:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
8 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
2 tablespoons cold vegetable shortening
2 to 4 tablespoons cold water, as needed
Into a large bowl, sift together the flour and salt. Add the sugar, butter, and shortening, and mix until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add 2 tablespoons of ice water, and work into a smooth dough, adding more water as needed. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out 1/8-inch thick to fit an 11-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Line with parchment paper, fill with pie weights or beans, and bake for 12 minutes. Remove from the oven and remove the paper and weights. Bake until just golden, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack before making the tart.


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Catherine Castelain
Date Last Modified: 4/3/15
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