How many people have told you that generally speaking the French don’t welcome Brits to France?
‘Qui est codswallop!’ We have experienced the exact opposite.
We live in the Department of Manche, and our amazing French neighbours have accepted us as exactly that.
‘Vous êtes notre famille.’
Here is a touching experience that we had and it may help to illustrate my point.
Have you heard of the magic local drink that is unique to our parts?
It’s the famous Calvados, (link to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Calvados_(brandy) ) distilled from specially selected Normandy apples. There is also a delicious Pear variety.
Like Champagne, Calvados is only available from its home-grown region. No one else can brand a similar liqueur with that name.
Our Gite, La Chatouillette is situated right in the middle of Calvados country. In fact the literal translation of La Chatouillette is what the French aptly describe as the unique ‘little tickle’ at the back of your throat, when Calvados smoothly slips down, ignites your senses and ‘lights your fires.’
Some of the well established families in this region have been proudly distilling their unique varieties of Calvados for generations. Fathers leave bottles for their sons as a legacy to their past endeavours on the land and in turn those sons continue the tradition for their progeny.
The other day our neighbour visited us and with a proud smile gave us a 50-year-old bottle of his late father’s special brew.
This was a great honour and illustrates what I mean when I say, it’s not difficult to feel like family in Normandy.
Of course the French can teach us a great deal about the importance of family and they use the most natural methods of embracing family solidarity.
Family time is celebrated through food and drink. Not the ‘fast food’, ready made, eat in front of the TV, kind but rather the wholesome local or home grown variety, full of taste and sustenance.
In our region this is proudly grown and prepared by the family, for the family and enjoyed at a socially agreeable pace, around a large, homely, family table.
This simple traditional ritual unites rather than ignites.
We have taken the custom on board and whilst we remain eating longer, the courses are skilfully appropriate, just satisfying our immediate need but still leaving the anticipation of a further tempting delight in the wings. Despite all this newfound culinary delight, we have lost weight and toned up. Well, that’s my story.
I guess it’s quality and cuisine skill that counts.
So those are just some of the reasons why we love Normandy.
If these thoughts tempt you, or you’re thinking of visiting our parts, you’ll be given a family welcome at La Chatouillette.
Au revoir et bon appétit,
Allan and Josie
P.S. For those who enjoy Carp fishing, we also have a well-stocked private Carp lake. A naturally good place to establish a new PB!