Stage 7 (Livarot to Fougères): The Heart of Normandy
Today the riders course along through the beautiful countryside of Normandy. As I mentioned yesterday, it’s apple country, but they do a lot more than make cider here! Our departure city of Livarot is justly famous for its eponymous cheese which, if you’ve ever smelled it, will make a lover or hater out of you. (I happen to love it!) Its distinctive wrapping includes three stripes of dried reeds that circumnavigate the cheese itself, giving it its nickname “The Colonel.” Compared to the aroma, the taste is actually quite mild and makes a nice accompaniment to fruit and cider.
The city of Livarot is nestled within the Département of Calvados, which brings its own delights to lovers of spirits. With apples in abundance, it’s not hard to imagine that this area of Normandy also produces excellent applejack. Known here as Calvados, it may be made in eleven sub-regions, with the best coming from the Vallée d’Auge, east of Caen. Calvados from this area is unique in that it must be distilled twice in copper pot stills and aged for at least two years. These products carry a label that identifies them as Calvados du Pays d’Auge. On a cold, rainy day, nothing warms the soul better than a snifter of delicious Calvados!