A more beautiful and welcoming environment is hard to imagine. Normandy really has a ton of charm, and the region is the origin of a very influential cheese as well. Nuefchatel cheese is the inspiration for the first cream cheeses that were manufactured in the United States. Now what many spread on their bagels for a snack, is owed to a small farming community in the north of France.
Nuefchatel cheese is one of the oldest cheeses in France, dating back to the 6th century. The area surrounding the commune produces a good deal of milk as the land is prime for dairy and farming. While traveling through, it was clear that this region is heavily dependant on agriculture to thrive.
Our visit began in Londinieres, a small village near our farmhouse rental. There we were recommended to a restaraunt to serve us a traditional 5-course French meal. Included in one of the courses was an offering of different cheeses between the main dinner and dessert. A wonderful experience and setting.
After a good night's rest, we were told of a craft and farmer's market that is held in the Nuefchatel-en-Bray on the weekends. The market is surrounding the towns' 12th century cathedral and had some of the most delectable offering of cheese and food around. You will notice that the cheeses are shaped like hearts. As it is told, during the Hundred Years' War, young girls would offer the English soldiers a heart shaped piece of cheese to show affection. Today this tradition continues as most Nuefchatel cheese is sold in this manner.
Down the street from the street market, was the town's resident cheese shop. Here the finest cheeses from the region and greater France can be bought. We stopped in for a quick look and to purchase and try some of the cheeses available. I was really amazed to find so many varieties of the Nuefchatel cheese available. The shop was busy and it was apparent that we were not the only ones looking to purchase some fresh made cheese while visiting the town.
For lunch, we stopped at the local Creperie. Crepes and Gallettes are traditional in Normandy and they are definitely the local cuisine to try! They are a thin layer of batter which is cooked on a griddle and filled with sweet or savory ingredients. Just have a look at the beautifully prepared Gallette that was served to me below! It was filled with bacon lardons and creamy Nuefchatel cheese!
We finally felt we had enough cheese to both eat and share with friends back home so we decided to venture on to the city of Rouen. Rouen is the prefecture of Normandy and the 5th largest city in France. Being it was only a 30 minute drive, it made sense to include it in our visit. We found Rouen really peaceful and full of great restaraunts and shopping. All the while, we did not notice a single tourist. The city had a uniquely French feel to it which felt special. History in Rouen includes Joan of Arc, who was tried and burnt at the stake there. It was also one of the largest and most prosperous cities in Medieval Europe.
During my visit, I purchased a couple of different Nuefchatel cheeese to try back at home. They were purchased at the market straight from the farmer that produced them.
Nuefchatel - Gaec Fouque
7.0 out of 10
-Zesty with a smooth finish
-Potent smell and initial flavor
-Edible but grainy and itchy rind
-Soft almost grainy texture
Couer Normand - Gaec Du Couer Normand
7.5 out of 10
-Creamy and rich
-Potent smell and initial flavor
-Edible and basic rind similar to Brie
All together, this trip provided a great French experience that felt authentic and without pretense. I would highly recomend Normandy as a destination. Their food and cheese is excelllent and the coutnryside is beautiful!
Thanks for reading!