A Fascinating Day Trip

 

We took a little trip to visit friends who live near the coast of Normandy, in the Pays d'Auge. It's about an hour and a half from Chateau de Courtomer...and an entirely different experience from the "Pays Courtomerois." Our Chateau, built of golden stone and roofed in slate, is splendidly set in a gentle vale amid broad fertile plains of waving wheat and yellow-flowering rapeseed. Our herds of cattle pasture in big fields and spend the winter in stone barns.

But drive to the west, and suddenly you are in a land of dainty castles made of clay and wood...where herds of white and black Normandy cows pasture on hills and dales, in small pastures enclosed with hedgerows and rich with long, lush grass.

Little churches lift slate-clad spires into the skies. Almost every village has its holy protector: Saint Germain de Montgommery, Sainte Foy de Montgommery, Saint Ouen de Houx, Sainte Marguerite de Viette, Saint Michel de Livet.... Pays d'Auge is less about magnificence and more about a gentle, traditional way of life.

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Cider orchards are in bloom now. We passed the farm of Feliz Hélie, who makes cider in a 16th-century barn. It's bubbly and refreshing -- while his Calvados goes down in a treacherously smooth sip.

This is also horse-breeding country, abounding in mares, foals, yearlings, and the occasional proud (and silly) stallion.

--Elisabeth

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