Camembert is an enchanting southern Normandy village as well as a very famous Normandy cheese. With its timber-frame farms built on lush green slopes, the village presents a wonderful image of typical Normandy countryside. Of course Camembert cheese takes centre stage for visitors to the place.
Visit the village of Camembert for a glimpse of the authentic, old, rural Normandy, where life is based around agriculture. The delightful slope-side settlement stands near the town of Vimoutiers, between the two lovely country areas of the Pays d’Auge and the Pays d’Ouche. Camembert village, with traditional farms surrounded by pastures and orchards, plus a church as dappled as the local cows, makes an extremely picturesque sight.
As to Camembert the cheese, it is inextricably linked to the village. There are several places in and around the parish where you can learn more about the famous fromage, as well as tasting it. The most popular story about the creation of Camembert cheese is that it was developed in 1791 by Marie Harel, the wife of a local farmer. This was at the time of the French Revolution, and it is said she was very much helped in her endeavours by a priest hiding out in these parts, but who had fled his native area of Brie, outside Paris, already known for its cheese-making. During World War I, Camembert cheese was supplied in vast quantities to the French troops, making it a much-appreciated national symbol. Camembert cheese from Normandy received its protected appellation d’origine contrôlée (AOC) status back in 1983.
Once you’ve visited the village of Camembert, head out into the verdant dales around it to enjoy further idyllic, peaceful Normandy countryside. This is an enticing area for foodies to go in search of fine cheese, cider and Calvados apple brandy. Also look out for farms producing poiré, pear cider, and other local specialities.
La Maison du Camembert (museum): to learn all about the Pays d'Auge and how Camembert is made.
La Maison de Camembert (House of Camembert): amusingly shaped to resemble the classic round Camembert cheese box, this centre puts on exhibitions in summer.
Le Manoir de Beaumoncel: this lovely historic farm has kept a good deal of its period charm. It is from here that Marie Harel and her family, apparently aided by a priest from the Brie cheese-producing area near Paris, would develop Camembert cheese into such a global success.
La Héronnière Farm - Fromagerie Durand: this dairy farm has the distinction of being the last in Camembert to produce authentic A.O.C. Camembert from raw milk, hand moulded with a ladle in the traditional way.
La Camembertière: a restaurant in Champeaux which specialises in dishes made with Camembert and more. Here, tradition rubs shoulders with innovative cooking.
Visit the local producers: in Camembert and its area, seek out local producers and discover their delicious products: there is AOC cider and Calvados, of course, but also poiré (pear cider), cream, and tripe kebabs from La Ferté-Macé, without forgetting the incomparable black pudding from Mortagne-au-Perche... all these succulent products are a gourmet's delight.
Le Sap: this little town with its medieval atmosphere has a local ecomusée, entitled ‘From the apple to Calvados’, where you can learn all about traditional methods of producing cider and apple spirit.