Be sure to check out my other Living in Normandy posts here!
The Equinox has passed, and the weather is returning to its temperamental state of clouds, rain, sunshine, and gusts of bracing winds. Autumn has really made itself at home now that September is turning into October. Where did the time go? What to do in Autumn in Normandy?
If you are like me, I adore autumn – fall for those in America – the transitional season of colour, harvest, and of course Halloween. This summer’s passing has been pretty brutal in terms of relentless hot days causing drought and crops to fail, so this autumn there is an expectance of less in terms of harvest. But even with this doom and gloom, there are some things to look forward to here in Normandy and I have made a handy dandy list to make it easier!
In the heart of apple country, trailers laden with hundreds and thousands of apples bouncing along country roads are a very familiar sight. Trees bowing heavily under the weight of apples and pears, for eating, cooking and pressing for cider and calvados, litter the countryside. In my garden alone we have 5 such trees, dropping fruit like rain. As Normandy is France’s Apple region, there are around 800 variants grown here across the departments.
Now we don’t have thousands of apples in our garden, but just enough to be overwhelmed with what to do. I plan on writing a separate post about apple goodies. For now, I encourage you to try everything apple based. Food and drink. (Of course, with alcohol make sure you drink responsibly!)
Apple products to try:
- Tarte Normande
- Patte de Loup (apple croissant-esque pastry)
- Calvados (apple brandy around 40%+)
- Pommeau (apple liquor around 20%)
- Cidre (cider)
- Poire (pear cider)
- Trou Normand
- Norman bourdelot
Be sure to keep an eye out for local apple festivals to try the local varieties!
The first smell of wood smoke in the air, mingling with the morning fog is the sign that the wood burners are being dusted off, the wood carried in, and the fires are being lit across Normandy. Nothing is cosier than an open fire, or in our case a wood burner to keep the house toasty in the colder months. I talk more about this in my post about the realities of living in a 300-plus-year-old farmhouse.
To summarise, here is the heating situation in most stone houses around here… The central heating in our stone farmhouse is run by oil (le fuel) so it can get very pricey! To compensate we also use kerosine (paraffin) heaters in the kitchen and lounge. A big bottle of paraffin (cost between 18-40 euros thanks to the oil crisis!) lasts a good period of time and is much more cost-effective for heating individual rooms.
It is something you do get used to fairly quickly, living in 4 jumpers on the colder days and becoming very familiar with different types of heaters during the winter. It does mean in summer that the house stays refreshing and cool, an oasis in the days when Normandy takes a trip down to the south of France.
Along with cosy wood burner time, it is also the perfect time to get comfy with a good spiced latte or apple and cinnamon tea. Nothing brings me more joy than being in front of the fire with a golden milk latte and a good book, while the weather decides to blow rain and cold wind at the winds.
Summer may be officially over, but festivals are not! There are not as many festivals due to schools being back and people returning to work, but be sure to see each weekend packed with activities.
As it is apple season in the apple capital there are a plethora of festivals celebrating this. As I mentioned a little earlier in the post, local producers will be showcasing their products at such festivals and also in the local markets.
Along with apple festivities, there are seafood festivals along the coast. Being in the Manche department (50) the department is dominated by a beautiful and bountiful coastline. Conchyliculture or shellfish farming is one of the main aqua-farming that takes place not just in the Manche, but in the neighbouring Norman department of Calvados (14). Be sure to visit port towns such as Port-en-Bessin to see the scallop farming in action, and Granville to discover the local produce of the mussel and oyster beds in the coastal region.
Find all the festivals here on the official Normandy Tourisme Website.
Playing Local Tourist
October is the perfect season to play the local tourist. It may be colder, but it is also (normally) more rainy, so a day out to a museum or two is perfect. Skip the queues of summer tourists and have a museum basically to yourself.
Personally, I recommend UNESCO heritage site the Bayeux Tapestry, to enjoy this incredible museum at your own pace and not have the constant movement of people hustling you along. Whilst in Bayeux, you can buy a 3-for-1 ticket to see the art museum and war museum, both within walking distance and equally fascinating.
Mont-Saint-Michel is also wonderful at this time of year, and even more rewarding to walk to as you can reward yourself with a delicious hot drink!
Other than museums, head to the beach! The D-Day beaches are usually swarming with holiday goers in summer making it pretty difficult to understand the historical importance of the places. (Although it is wonderful to see that the beaches can be used as beaches without the constant remembrance of the atrocities that happened there.) Beaches like Omaha, Gold and Sword are absolutely stunning locations, and great places to walk, reflect and enjoy. Even in the rain, if you are like me and actually enjoy rainy walks!
Summer Vide Greniers may be over, but brocanting season is far from over. Now that visitors have left, vide grenier and braderie sales are continuing for local residents. Keep an eye out for depot vente sales (house sale clearances) and vide greniers. Both are indoors as well as outdoors.
Many of these sales do have restauration en place (food on site) including my favourite Normandy gallettes! And the favourites of coffee and kir Normand!
If you don’t know where to begin with brocanting, check out my post about thrifting in France here!
What do you like most about Autumn / Fall where you are?
Let me know in the comments!
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