It is one of those stays in the French regions that one appreciates in order to be able to slow down time and enjoy the simple pleasures of life. Stroll through a village and stop at a café terrace, take a bike ride and explore the surrounding countryside, visit the key monuments and then end up enjoying the good regional products bought in a grocery store or eaten at a good restaurant. In Calvados, the commune of Livarot is renowned for its position allowing quick access to several Norman treasures, but also and above all, because it reveals the secrets of making Pays d'Auge PDO cheeses in the village's unmissable cheese dairy. So, are you ready for a gourmet, nature and culture trip to Normandy?
Dive into the heart of the secrets of PDO cheese-making
Aren't the autumn and winter periods the best times of the year to get your taste buds going and taste all the gastronomic delights of the regions? In the real cheese village of Livarot, a visit to the E cheese dairy. Graindroge offers much more than just buying local specialities in its shop. The place is also intended to be an educational and awareness-raising place around ancestral know-how and values shared by several generations of cheese makers.
The cheese dairy has been located in Livarot since 1910 and it is here that today visitors have the opportunity to discover the cheese workshops through a corridor of glass galleries. This unique itinerary plunges the public into the heart of the workings of a cheese company and allows them to discover the different stages in the making of a Normandy PDO cheese. Various teaching aids enrich the trail and make it fun and interactive: explanatory panels, films, games, not forgetting the application to which you can connect on arrival in the Cheese Village. Through quizzes and various information unveiled in the form of "Le sais-tu", Father Eugène reveals to parents and children all the secrets of cheese-making that are the pride of an entire region. From the arrival of the milk to the packaging of the cheeses, it is captivating to plunge into the heart of the methods and work that lead to the conception of high quality products.
The visit is free, as is the tasting moment that concludes the tour of the premises. To taste the cheeses is to take the time to grasp their subtlety and specificity, to share a convivial moment and to make you want to leave with a few examples of the 4 Normandy PDO cheeses. TheLivarot, Pont-l'Évêque, Camembert de Normandie and Neufchâtel cheeses are available in the cheese shop and you will also enjoy questioning the professionals about the best ways to highlight their taste in different gourmet recipes to review at home.
Discover Livarot and its surrounding treasures
If from Antiquity to the 17th century, the commune of Livarot was specialised in metallurgy, it is indeed its flagship product, "Colonel" cheese, which brought it prosperity during the 19th century and until the middle of the 20th century. After having spent a delicious moment in the famous cheese dairy of the commune, let us take the time to emphasize especially what makes the Pays d'Auge a territory to be discovered absolutely at the time of holidays in family. To stop in Livarot is first of all to take the time to discover an authentic Norman village. One inevitably passes by to see the Saint-Ouen church and its 19th century organ, classified as an object of Historic Monuments. Then, a detour to the Manoir de l'Isle offers a pleasant stroll in the heart of a flowery park around the sublime residence built by Georges Bisson, former cheese maker and mayor of Livarot.
At another time, one gets on a bicycle to set off to conquer the beautiful hilly countryside of the Pays d'Auge. Guided bike tours with electric assistance are possible, including rides along country lanes and gastronomic breaks, cheese and cider making. Not to be missed either, a stop by the Steam Machine, a testimony to Livarot's industrial past.
Lovers of architecture, two monuments are a must to see in the area. Starting with the splendid Château Le Kinnor, which in addition to having been elected "Jewel of construction at the end of the 16th century" and housing in its park the oldest plane tree in the East of France, was a place of love between the writer François-René de Chateaubriand and Delphine de Custine. Another exceptional manor in more than one way, the Manoir de Bellou is worth a look for its 15th and 16th century architecture, its half-timbered facades, its half-timbered dovecote, its 16th century paintings and its 17th century stables.