Rouen is a foodie city at any time of year, but when the Fête du Ventre et de la Gastronomie Normande [Festival of the Stomach and Norman Gastronomy] comes to town, there’s no better place for a food lover to be. This annual festival takes over the city center and fills streets and squares with deliciousness every October.
I’m here to indulge my senses and immerse myself in the best of the Fête du Ventre’s sights, scents, and flavors. I start in the Place de la Pucelle, where I watch Normandy’s famous apples being pressed into cider. Next to them men and women in traditional dress dance to the sound of live music.
Moving into the Place du Vieux Marché, I see men shucking scallops and smell the smoke of sausages sizzling on a big open grill. A man’s voice comes over a loudspeaker as my eyes fill with the autumnal sights of pumpkins and gourds.
My explorations continue up the Rue Rollon to the Rue Jeanne D’Arc, where market stalls extend as far as I can see. The music of a live band serenades me as I take in the scents of ripe cheese, warm dipping chocolate, and fresh fish. I pass by crêpes cooking over open fires, their heat warming my skin as I go.
My taste buds are tempted by fat cupcakes and warm bread, not to mention local cheeses like heart-shaped Neufchâtel. Everywhere I look there are apples and other seasonal fruits and vegetables, all of which make for a picture-perfect harvest scene.
By the time I leave the Fête du Ventre, my eyes are as full as my stomach. This festival has impressed my senses and shown me the best of Normandy’s produce at the same time. I carry as much of it as I can back to London with me, but I already want to return next year to indulge all over again.
This year’s Fête du Ventre takes place on 12-13 October 2019 – for more information, visit the Rouen Tourist Office website. For more information on food and drink in Normandy, visit the Normandy Tourism website.
All photos and text © A Lady in London