6 Charming Locations For Your Cheese and Cider Tour Near Le Havre, France – The English Channel

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Port of Le Havre, France:

Lying on the right bank of Seine (senn) River as it enters the English Channel is Port of Le Havre in France. It is about 160 nautical miles southeast of Southampton in the U.K. This port is France‘s 2nd biggest after the Port of Marseille. Most ships docking at Port of Le Havre are crude carriers although it does ship repair and ferry services to England and Ireland. It supports a large industrial area containing an oil refinery, petrochemical, cement, automotive and aeronautical industries. The Port of Le Havre is the first port of call for ships plying the English Channel and the North Sea trade routes.

About The English Channel:

World’s busiest seaway and located between Northern France and Southern England is the English Channel. Simply called as “The Channel”, this body of water links Atlantic Ocean to the North Sea. It’s considered as the shallowest and calmest sea of Europe. But the Channel is one of the busiest shipping regions of the world. Around 500 ships sail through everyday since it is a very important area. The English coast is more populated than the French shore. At least 5 islands dot the Channel under the jurisdiction of the U.K. (Jersey, Guernsey, Alderney, Sark and Herm) although they are closer to France. Many travelers cross the Channel nowadays with the Channel Tunnel that connects U.K. and France by rail (Eurostar train).

On Le Havre:

Map of Le Havre, France.

This is a port city in Normandy region of France (northwestern) along the English Channel and along the right bank of Seine estuary. Le Havre (lav’ha) was founded by King Francois I of France in 1517. He named it “Havre de Grace” (harbor of grace). In later years the city was simply called Le Havre (the harbor). During World War II, the Belgian government has been transferred to Le Havre for a brief period. Antwerp and Ostend (cities of Belgium) fell to the Nazis. The city was severely devastated in September 1944 by Allied bombing as Le Havre was occupied by the Germans. About 3,000 civilians died during that time. After the war, Le Havre rose from its ashes with the city center which undergone a total reconstruction headed by the Belgian architect, Auguste Perret. A total of 100 international architects worked with Perret on the project. Sadly, Perret didn’t live to see all the buildings he had designed and completed. About 150 concrete apartments were constructed in the city’s damaged docks for its homeless (because of the war) between 1945-1964. Le Havre‘s unusual reinforced concrete architecture with its main street opening out to the sea has earned a UNESCO World Heritage Site title in 2005. This city is also the birthplace of Claude Monet, another famous Impressionist artist of France.

Le Havre at night as seen from the harbor.

We sailed to Le Havre via the crude carrier M/T Karen Knutsen in 2004. In France, nothing is more important than having a great, good meal. Gastronomy indeed has always been considered as an art of everyday life in this country. Here in Normandy where Le Havre is a part, this region is an agricultural and seaside area whose climate is quite good for breeding cows and growing apples.

House where Claude Monet grew up in Giverny, Le Havre.

It was October when we were in Le Havre, autumn’s peak time. This is a very important season for harvesting apples to make cider (the juice that’s processed into wine). A good part of the fermented cider is distilled into a brandy. They are aged for years in oak barrels to become Calvados and Pommeau. On the other hand, under hectares of apple orchards are Normand cows that produce excellent milk. Milking them for two times a day requires hard labor. But Havrais farmers are rewarded with top of the class dairy products like Camembert, Pont L’Eveque and Livarot cheeses, butter and creme fraiche. If you are a gourmet, the cheese and cider tasting tour in the Normandy region is a good experience. Come with me then for a very brief visit on 6 charming locations for your cheese and cider tour near Le Havre, France. By reading this article, you will be ready to enjoy not only of the culinary delights but the scenery as well when you get there.

Normand cows grazing under apple trees near Le Havre, France.

Beuvron-en-Auge Cider Stopover:

Arguably one of the prettiest villages in France and a charming location for your cheese and cider tour near Le havre, France is Beuvron-en-Auge (bevron-ugah). A postcard comes alive from its half-timbered houses to its apple trees. Beuvron-en-Auge, a cider route stopover, is a light of serenity and gaiety. Most of the buildings in the area date back to the 17th century which Normandy is famous for.

The cider route here shows on the cider-making tradition of Normandy. Producers along this route open their estates to visitors for a glimpse on Normandy culture and tradition. Just look for the apple signpost along the route and you can easily find your way. Every year in autumn this village offers tourists a chance to watch the delicate “apple-pressing” process on the village center. At the end of the presentation, you will have the chance to taste different ciders (the liquor including the Calavados, not the fruit juice). A village that evokes Disneyland stories, of dashing princes and charming princesses – this is Beuvron-en-Auge.

Pont L’Eveque and Its Stinky But Delicious Cheese:

Pont L’Eveque (po-leveq), famous not only for its beauty of clerical landscape and stunning valleys but for its square-shaped soft, creamy cheese that bears its name – Pont L’Eveque cheese. A traditional Normandy town and a charming location for your cheese and cider tour near Le Havre, France. It offers a warm welcome to visitors exploring the region for its excellent cheese product . Traditional cheese making is presented where you will have the chance to learn (and taste) how to make the perfect Pont L”Eveque cheese. Good for dessert, this is a soft, pale creamy yellow cheese with a fine texture. It may have a “strong” smell but one of the best in France.

Cambremer And Its Fruity Cider:

The village that inspired Marcel Proust‘s (French novelist and critic, 1871-1922) setting for his novel “In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower” this is Cambremer. A charming location for your cheese and cider tour near Le Havre, France. Cambremer (combreme) has retained its ancient architecture of manor houses, timber-framed cottages and apple orchards. A real instagrammable treat, this village is another spot of the cider route. It produces Pays d’Auge Cambremer, a cider made by fermentation of a bitter-sweet type of apple grown in Normandy. Done in a slow process, the final product is an unsweetened and natural cider with a fruity flavor.

The bitter-sweet apple in Normandy used in Pays d’Auge Cambremer cider.

Rouen, Normandy’s Stunning Capital:

This is not included in the cheese and cider route but Rouen (riu-wan) is the capital of Normandy region. May as well be a charming location for your cheese and cider route near Le Havre, France. It certainly is a place you immediately fall in love with at first glance. Also located along the Seine River like Le Havre, its history runs deep being a capital town way back to the Middle Ages. Some of French history’s great people made their mark in this beautiful town. It was here in Rouen that the 19-year old Jeanne d’Arc (Joan of Arc) was burned to death at stake in 1431. Claude Monet was so obsessed with the beauty of Rouen Cathedral, he made 30 paintings of the Church between 1832-1893. Rouen is also the birthplace of Gustave Flaubert (French writer of the famous Madame Bovary book). His childhood home is now a museum.

Rouen Cathedral

Neufchatel-en-Bray With Its Heart-Shaped Creamy Cheese:

One more charming location for your cheese and cider tour near Le Havre, France is another commune along the Seine estuary famous for its cheese with the same name, Neufchatel-en-Bray (nefshete-nenbreh). This cheese if one of France oldest cheeses with its production dating back to 1035. Mostly heart-shaped, legend says that French farm girls fell in love with English soldiers during the Hundred Years War (1337-1453) between France and England. They made the heart-shaped Neufchatel cheese for the soldiers. This kind of cheese is similar to the cream cheese.

The hear-shaped Neufchatel-en-Bray cheese

Chateau Du Breuil And Its Calvados:

Constructed between the 16th-17th centuries is Chateau du Breuil (syatoh-du-boyah), a charming estate and location for your cheese and cider tour near Le Havre, France. It has been the home of Normandy’s noble “cider” families like the Bouquetot, Montgomerry, Bence clans. This castle is also one of the most esteemed Calvados (apple whisky) distilleries in Normandy. It offers to visitors guided tour around the estate as well as tasting of aged Calvados. The distillery stands at a 28-hectare property surrounded by hundred-year old apple trees.

A 12-year old Chateau du Breuil Calvados whisky.

France is famous in the world for its elegant wines but in Normandy, cider and cheese rule. With vast fields of its cows grazing under apple trees, there is no doubt that this region produces excellent ciders and cheeses. Le Havre is the last coastal city I’ve traveled in France. Our next port of call is across the Channel. Merci beaucoup for following my stories and hope that it will come as handy if you are planning to travel to this “magnifique”country soon. You are assured of a nice graphic experience and gastronomic delight. Au revoir pour le moment.

Reference: Wikipedia