National Geographic Traveller (UK)




Exploring the rainbow of openair stalls at the market in Pontl’Évêque, famed for its eponymous AOP cheese, is a rendezvous with the epicurean soul of this small riverside town. Follow your nose to Fromagerie René’s stand and buy a square of washed-rind cheese packed in a poplar-wood box. Tastings of thick ambrosial cream made from unpasteuri­sed milk and slow-cooked teurgoule normande, a cinnamon-rice pudding, from La Ferme de la Bourgeoter­ie are equally fragrant. Drive 10 minutes north in Pays d’Auge to Christian Drouin, a 17th-century farm where the Drouin family have doubledist­illed cider to make calvados since 1960. Guided tours take in the apple orchards, artisan distillery and the ageing half-timbered barn where the apple brandy turns mahogany-gold over time in oak casks.


Follow hedgerow-cut lanes to Beaumont-en-Auge. This is where Europe’s last remaining kaleidosco­pe maker, visiting from Paris in 1976, bought a half-timbered cottage in which to set up shop. In Dominic Stora’s whimsical shop, Après la Pluie, marvel at the handcrafte­d optical toys. Then, browse neighbouri­ng fashion boutiques and antiques galleries, and grab a bite on the aptly named rue du Paradis. Afterwards, drive 20 minutes south to the village of Cambremer, springboar­d for the Route du

Cidre driving itinerary, with a Romanesque church and art exhibition­s in a medieval grange. Visit the Jardins des Pays d’Auge to see flower gardens evoking the angels, the devil and more. routeducid­ kaleidosco­ lesjardins­dupaysdaug­


It’s a 15-minute country lane wiggle past stud farms and cideries to Beuvron-en-Auge. Above the village, admire the 12th-century Chapelle de Clermont then drop down to the square. You might recognise the horseshoe of timbered houses huddled around the old market hall from David Hockney’s Beuvron-enAuge Panorama painting; he lives nearby. Linger over an aperitif at Coiffeur — a bar that was the village hairdresse­r until 1972. Or head directly to the traditiona­l dining room of Le Pavé d’Auge for dinner. Chef Jerome Bansard champions the region’s earthy riches, but his refined Norman cuisine is soufflé-light. Don’t skip Normandy’s famous four-cheese course: camembert, neufchâtel, pont-l’évêque and livarot — eaten in that order, with a dollop of thick crème d’Isigny.

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