15-17 March: Foire au Boudin – Mortagne-au-Perche (Orne)
Love it or loathe it, black pudding is the king of the party at Mortagne-au-Perche’s annual Foire au Boudin. Tucked away in the Perche Regional Natural Park, this quaint and picturesque town welcomes thousands of hungry visitors every spring for one of Normandy’s most famous food fests. The event’s highlights are the prizes for the best international black pudding and for whichever greedy person is able to eat the most black pudding!
4-5 May: Les Rencontres de Cambremer – Cambremer (Calvados)
Normandy is home to many a AOC (Protected Designation of Origin) product. Cambremer’s annual festival celebrates and embraces them all, from Camembert to cider, Livarot to Pommeau, not forgetting Calvados. Visitors can expect local produce galore and two full days of activities linked to the AOC labels,with workshops, tastings, cookery demos and gourmet rambles.
10-12 May: Fête du Fromage – Pont-l’Evêque (Calvados)
The name Pont-l’Evêque probably rings a bell, as it is home to one of Normandy’s most famous and loved cheeses. It therefore won’t come as a surprise to hear that this beautiful little town plays host to one of the region’s largest cheese festivals every year in May. The creamy delicacy can be found on most of the stalls, but Camembert, Livarot and Neufchâtel producers will also be showcasing and selling their local treasures, complete with a bit of charcuterie and all washed down with a glass or two of cider.
6 June: Normandy Peace Picnics – region-wide
Normandy, Land of Liberty! To celebrate peace, freedom and reconciliation, everyone is invited to take part in the many pique-niques pour la paix [peace picnics] which will be taking place across Normandy on Thursday 6 June (D-Day). The main picnic will be organised at Caen Memorial Museum, but other cities, towns, villages and even private companies will host their own. Come join in!
10 August: Fête de la Carotte et du Terroir – Créances (Manche)
You may have been told as a child to eat up your carrots to help you see in the dark and give you peachy skin. There are many other reasons why carrots are good for you, and they are all celebrated at Créances’ annual Fête de la Carotte, which welcomes 300 producers and 30,000 visitors on the second Saturday in August! Back in 1962, the Label Rouge quality mark was awarded to carrots grown in Créances’ sandy soil and since 1990 the town has organised a special event dedicated to its ‘queen of vegetables’. Expect a large market, tastings, music and fireworks too.
28-29 September: Toute la Mer sur un Plateau – Granville (Manche)
Just an hour away from our iconic Mont-Saint-Michel, Granville is France’s number one shellfish port. It’s no wonder its popular seafood festival, Toute la Mer sur un Plateau [All the Sea on a Plate], attracts around 50,000 visitors every year. No fewer than 16 tonnes of whelks, oysters, scallops, mussels, shrimps and lobsters are caught and brought fresh off the fishing boats into town for the festival, where visitors can then enjoy them with a refreshing glass of kir. The festival also boasts markets, pop‑up seafood restaurants, cooking demos, tastings, tastings and entertainment for all the family.
12-13 October: Fête du Ventre – Rouen (Seine-Maritime)
This event is nothing less than Normandy’s biggest food and drink festival and has become a mecca to real food lovers. Last year, the event attracted over 150,000 people, and even more are expected this coming October. Some 200 producers from across Normandy will set up their stalls in and around Rouen’s Place du Vieux Marché, where Joan of Arc was burned to the stake. Top chefs, artisans and local producers in traditional Normandy costumes will showcase the best of locally-sourced products, all available to taste and purchase. This is definitely the place to stock up on Norman produce!
27 October: Fête de la Pomme, du Cidre et du Fromage – Conches-en-Ouches (Eure)
Apples, cider and cheese: what more can you ask for? If you want to savour a real taste of Normandy, the pretty town of Conches-en-Ouches is the place to head end October. The event takes place in a huge park where hundreds of people gather to enjoy a big farmers market, tastings, cooking demos, traditional dances performed in traditional Norman costumes and of course an abundance of pop-up restaurants serving local specialties.
16-17 November: Foire aux Harengs – Dieppe (Seine-Maritime)
Every year in November, visitors head in their thousands to the bustling ports of the Alabaster Coast, where several herring and scallop festivals are held, the largest of which in Dieppe. This year will be a very special one, as the event is celebrating its 50th anniversary! Over 100,000 people from far and wide will flock to the quaysides to enjoy the freshest of smoked fish and seafood, make the most of the numerous outdoor activities (a flea market, funfair, concerts and more) and savour the delicious aromas.
For more information on food and drink in Normandy, visit the Normandy Tourism website.
Text: B. Collier