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A wonderful time to appreciate the beauty of Normandy is in the spring, when all of the apple and pear trees are in blossom.
Apples and pears
For apple blossom, head for the Pays d’Auge east of Caen, and join Normandy’s famous Cider Route, a signposted trail that connects the area’s picturesque villages, including Beuvron-en-Auge (one of the ‘most beautiful villages in France’), Bonnebosq, Beaufour-Druval and Cambremer. Stop off at the many farms on the Cider Route and enjoy a tour of the orchards amid the blossom, followed by some cider tasting. Most of the farms on this trail hold the Cru de Cambremer label, a mark of high quality.
For pear blossom, head for the Pays de Domfront area in the Normandie-Maine Regional Natural Park. Domfront was once a fortress on the borders of the Normandy duchy and it stands on a hill dominating the surrounding countryside, so you’ll be able to see the pear trees in blossom all around you! Not far from Domfront is Barenton where you will find the Poiré Museum in the bocage (Normandy’s hedgerow country), which is full of pear-tree orchards. In a former farmhouse, discover the world of cider-making, from the cultivation of apple and pear trees to the distillation process that give you calvados apple brandy.
From Domfront to Barenton, the Poiré Route is a signposted itinerary inviting you to drive through the bocage countryside with its dense hedgerows and high-stem pear orchards and to stop at the gates of as many producers as you can safely pack in!
Other tourist trails
Another unmissable site where the apple and pear blossom is in abundance is theFruit Trail, which runs from the Maison du Parc in Notre-Dame-de-Bliquetuit to Duclair in the Seine-Maritime département, with a mandatory stop at the magnificent must-see Abbey of Jumièges.
The 30-mile Thatched Cottage Trail also allows you to fully appreciate the blossom as well as the many half-timbered, thatched cottages of Normandy which are topped by irises in the spring. One of the most scenic parts of the trail is in the Marais Vernier marshes where, if you stop off at the Grand’Mare observatory, you will see a huge array of migratory birds by what is the largest natural lake in eastern Normandy.
Normandy’s regional natural parks
Another hot-spot for blossom is in one of Normandy’s four regional natural parks. These parks were originally created across France with the idea of protecting and preserving large inhabited rural areas with a view to enhancing them. Only areas which are mainly rural in character, with richly endowed landscapes, natural habitats, rich cultural heritage and a wealth historic buildings may apply for the ‘regional natural park’ classification. Normandy has four regional natural parks, the Meanders of the Seine, the Normandie-Maine, the Cotentin and Bessin Marshes and the Perche.