The 600 km coastline provides an abundance of fresh seafood, the lush green pastures of the Normandy countryside makes ideal grazing for dairy herds and cattle; and the apple orchards give delicious fruit that is used to make a variety of tasty drinks.

Seafood Heaven

With its extensive coastline, seafood is one of Normandy's specialities, from shellfish, to lobster, clams, whelks, scallops, mussels and oysters from the Manche and Calvados. Oysters are classified, like cheeses and wines, with their own AOC (Controlled Origin Name). Seafood will feature on most menus from Dieppe to Alençon which often combine fish with the region's other culinary specialities, such as Sauce à la Crème or au Camembert. Particular treats is Dieppe's fish stew, called Marmite Dieppoise or Port en Bessin's famous scallops or Coquilles St Jacques.

Meat eater's paradise

Normandy's main courses are often meat-based. Poultry is common on regional menus, including the tasty Canard à la Rouennaise using local duck from the Seine Valley but other types of meat such as veal or pork feature too, frequently cooked in cream or cider.

Another local treat is "Pré Salé lamb", often served in the southern part of the Manche and given this name because the sheep are reared on the salt marshes surrounding Mont St Michel. Further inland you are likely to come across more traditional dishes chitterling from Vire, andouille in French, or black pudding in the Perche area. Tripe is another Norman speciality, traditionally from Caen.

Dream cheese

Normandy's cheese board is of the most impressive in France, and contains the best-known types of cheeses outside its local area. Its most famous cheese is Camembert which comes from the village of the same name near Vimoutiers, but you can also try Neufchâtel, produced in a variety of different shapes and sizes, Pont-L'Evêque and Livarot. Cheese is in France usually served between the main course and dessert.

Sweet tooth

Whether eaten as a dessert, or as a treat with afternoon tea, many of Normandy's sweet dishes are based on apples, such as the delicious apple tart. Another Norman speciality is the milky rice pudding or "Teurgoule" made with creamy local products. For those with a seriously sweet tooth, try the "Sucres de Pommes" from Rouen - an apple candy, the "Caramel de Pommes" from Dieppe or buttery Isigny toffees.

A little tipple

The abundance of apples which flavour both savoury and sweet dishes also means that Normandy boasts a wide range of other apple bi-products, most notably cider, poiré or Pear liquor, pommeau and calvados.

The famous shot of calvados with apple ice cream, or "Trou Normand" is a traditional way to clear the palate between courses of typically rich Norman food.

Another liqueur of the region is Bénédictine, which can be drunk with ice before a meal, or afterwards, on its own, as a digestive. It is also sometimes used as a base for many famous cocktails.

What about tasting Trou Normand and Bénédictine ?