Tag Archives: Autumn

Exploring Normandy Part 2: Cheese, Cider, and Postcard Villages

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Church in Victot-Pontfol–exploring the cider route.

The cool, but sunny weather of last week has given way to rain this morning.  I don’t mind too much, because rainy days are perfect for snuggling up with my laptop and Bon Iver and catching up on my blogging.  Also, we had boeuf bourguignon with braised spice cabbage for lunch, which is the perfect rainy fall day meal!  Oh my tastebuds are happy.

So, backing up to last Saturday. The best thing about having a rental car was the freedom of exploring rural Normandy (or Normandie) at my leisure (well, more or less, as much leisure as I could pack into 48 hours).

Saturday, Sophie decided she wanted to have a down day, so I was on my own.  I was a bit nervous about doing both the navigating and driving, but the great thing about country roads is you can pull off to the side and look at maps and directions when you need to.  Also, cars can turn around, which is oh so handy!

Saturday dawned cold clear morning, so a mist was just rising off the fields as I set off, making for some gorgeous, eerie type photos.  By afternoon, it warmed to the point of being comfortable in long sleeves and sans jacket, with skies that were as clear and blue as a mountain lake.

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The fog just lifting on a clear and chilly autumn morning.

After a couple detours down some tiny country roads, I first stopped in the small cheese making village of Livarot, about a 30 minute drive from where I’m staying.  It was a sleepy little village on a Saturday morning–pretty far off the main tourist drag, and not many shops were open, but  I wasn’t interested in shopping; I was there to visit the E. Graindorge cheese factory, La Village Fromargerie.

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Mmm…Normandy is yummy.

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Thanks for the cheese, cows!

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Aging camembert in the cellars of La Village Fromargerie.

A self guided tour through the factory and the museum was delightful with displays and short video clips explaining the history of the company and the cheese production process the region.  As visitors progress through the factory, they pass through the aging cellars and packaging rooms from where the cheese is then sent for distribution.  The free tour was well worth the time, and concluded with the sampling of various cheese (can’t go wrong with free samples) and local products in the gift shop.  I picked up some camembert and apple cider (juice) for my picnic lunch.

From Livarot, it was about 30 minutes north to the village of Cambremer, a pretty little town right on the cider route–a 25 mile marked tour through the Pays d’Auge region of Normandy.  The cider route is a perfect way to experience the culture and culinary arts of Normandy.  While the D-Day sights give an important insight into history, this is rural life in Normandy today.  Stopping at various estates and in the local villages, you can sample cider, calvados, and other apple products, and tour the distilleries and orchards that make this part of France so distinctive.

I had delightful time at the Dupont estate, getting a private tour of the distillery and the Calvados and cider aging cellars.  Calvados is aged apple brandy, and if I understood correctly, many of the barrels are aged for as many as 30 or more years!  You have to have a lot of patience and apples to run an operation like that!  My tour concluded with a sample of their delicious fresh apple cider (non-alcoholic for me, thank you) and I purchased a bottle of sparkling cider to take with me.  I just broke into it a couple nights ago.  It is THE BEST sparkling cider I have ever had.  Sorry, Martinelli’s.

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Calvados aging barrels at the Dupont estate.  If I understood correctly, these particular barrels will age for about 30 years.

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Touring the Dupont estate.

My final stop for the day was the popular village of Beuron en Auge, widely considered one of the most beautiful villages in all of Normandy.  It’s tiny–you can walk from one end to the other in less than 10 minutes– and full of half timbered buildings, antique shops, cider purveyors, and small boutiques to delight tourists.

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Delightful half timbered home in the postcard town of Beuvron-en-Auge.

While it can be crowded during the summer, this weekend at the end of September was pleasantly tranquil, giving me plenty of time to enjoy my picnic of all local foods: cider, camembert, and a fresh baguette–and then go exploring.

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Dining as the locals do. The perfect picnic.

That, in a word, was my day.  Exploring at its purest.  Driving through France, in my adorable rental car, looking at a map but just turning down whatever road intrigued me.  Meeting local people, trying the local food that they were so proud of, and enjoying the autumn sunshine.  Perfect days are so rare, and this one was definitely one to treasure.

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Autumn Romance

I can’t believe October is already half-over!  How is that possible?  The past few weeks have been so busy and have flown by.  In some ways it’s good and in others not so good.  I have so many exciting things that I’m looking forward to, but at the same time I hate to see the season go so quickly.  I’ll be off to Paris before I know it!

My big event this week is Brent & Michelle’s wedding!  I had a fantastic photo shoot with them  yesterday, and I can’t wait for you to see how beautiful they are!  (Feel free to skip down to the pictures, I won’t be offended).  Their wedding is on Saturday, but in order to take just a little bit of stress off the big day, we did the bulk of the portraits ahead of time.  I highly recommend this to all wedding photographers and brides & grooms.  It’s so nice to be able to take time with the pictures and not worry about trying to fit it all in with everything else on the actual wedding day.  Plus, it gives the couple the option of having “wedding” photos displayed at the reception!

These were taken at Point Defiance Park in Tacoma, WA.  We had a gorgeous autumn afternoon.  There was even sun (those of you who have ever lived in the Pacific Northwest know what a rarity that is this time of year)!  We were able to shoot during the magic hour–the hour just before sunset when the light is all warm and soft and glowy, so that made me very happy.  Hopefully the weather will be just as cooperative on Saturday!

 

 

To quote one of my favorite movies: "Is this a kissing book?!?"

 

Yes. Yes it is. 🙂

Even the roses seem to change color in the autumn! I love the orange-red. It's so perfect for October!

I really loved this tree. They didn't seem to mind it either!

I love it when I can capture sun rays in photos. So soft and romantic.

 

Thanks for stopping by!  I’ll see you next week, hopefully with some pictures from the wedding!  Provided I don’t collapse from exhaustion first. 😉


And the Award Goes to…

                  

… me, apparently!

I’m sitting at home, all cozy and warm, enjoying a wonderful dinner of pumpkin pancakes & dutch honey, and in a bit of awe of the new world of blogging.  You blog readers are the nicest, most wonderful people in the world!

This must be my good blog-karma week!  (And who knew there even was such a thing?)  The delightful Miss Erin Recht of Seventh Story Studio recently bequeathed me with not one, but TWO  blog awards!  I am very flattered, though I’m pretty sure featuring some of her engagement pictures may have had something to do with it. 🙂

From what I can tell, still being relatively new to the blogging community, these awards have been created by other bloggers as a way of networking and getting to view new blogs and content.

And on that note, I want to thank WordPress for choosing Gatsby Nouvel’s “All the Delights of the Season” as one of it’s Freshly Pressed features.  I’m so grateful to all of you who left such lovely comments about the photos, and your love of the season with me!  You are all so kind, and I appreciate your thoughtfulness more than I can say.  And because I can’t get enough, I decided to post another favorite autumn photo.

Autumn Foliage at Walden Pond

In 2007, I was studying photography at CDIA in Boston, MA.  One day in October our class took a field trip out to Walden Pond and spent a few hours walking in the footsteps of Thoreau.  The colors on this particular tree were brilliant, standing out from amongst it’s less colorful friends.  The image that I finally finished  felt somewhat like an impressionist painting.  So here it is, Impressions of Walden.

Now, on to not-so-serious business!

As one of the stipulations for receiving the Versatile Blogger award, I’m supposed to share 7 interesting facts about myself.  You have my sincerest apologies.

But, here we go:

# 1: In my journal is a list of places I want to visit.  It gets modified and updated regularly.  Brigadoon is on that list.

# 2:  I like squash, but only if it’s in something sweet: butternut squash soufflé, pumpkin pie, zucchini bread, chocolate zucchini cake, pumpkin cookies…  In fact, 90% of the time I’d prefer it if my vegetables didn’t taste like vegetables. The other 10% of the time I get a weird craving for salads.

# 3: I find cravats incredibly sexy.  For some unfathomable reason they appeal to my girly flutterishness (yes, I made up that word).  And while I’m making things up, I’ve decided to call this condition  Thornton-Wentworth Syndrome.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

# 4: I deliberately left out Mr. Darcy when naming the above Syndrome because I find Darcy references too cliché.  My apologies to Mr. Colin Firth.

# 5:  I have the weirdest, most random dreams of anyone I know, and I like to share them with my friends and family.  Sometimes they find it amusing and sometimes they find it annoying.  I’m contemplating starting a dream blog so I can inflict the madness on an unsuspecting public.

# 6: I start getting anxious for Christmas in September.  My tree was up before Halloween last year, and I have every intention of doing it again this year.

# 7: Sometimes, when I’m alone in my car listening to music, I lip-synch and pretend that I’m Ella Fitzgerald or Rosemary Clooney .  And sometimes when I listen to George Winston I pretend that I’m a famous pianist and that I’m playing in a ski lodge and Hugh Jackman walks in, finds my talent breathtaking, buys me a hot chocolate, and slips extra marshmallows in it.

Oh, I’m sorry.  Was I over-sharing?

I’ll stop now.

But not before leaving you with this image:

Sweaters also make me happy.


All the Delights of the Season

HURRAY!!!

We have officially entered into my favorite time of the year: October 1st through December 31st.  I just love the arrival of fall.  The brilliant colors, the cool temperatures, cozy sweaters, apple cider, hot chocolate, crackling fires, fat pumpkins, crock pots, harvest festivals,  and all the homey-happy things that make autumn so wonderful.  It’s the beginning of shorter, colder days that are just perfect for snuggling in with a favorite book (Little Women) or movie (Anne of Green Gables–though actually both of these are great books AND movies–how awesome is that?!) and lazing the day away.

This year is particularly exciting because I get to celebrate a wedding of two dear friends in a couple weeks, take my first trip to Paris next month, and celebrate my niece’s wedding in December.  Plus we have Christmas and Thanksgiving in there too.  So, with all these happy memories about to be made, I took a trip down memory lane and dug up so some favorite fall photos from days gone by.  So raise your mug of spiced cider and toast The Season with me!

 

 

Beacon Hill, Boston 2007

One of my favorite places in the world is Beacon Hill in Boston, MA.  I love strolling along the cobblestone streets of this quiet neighborhood, the frenzy of the city just a few blocks away.  In the fall orange, gold, and red mums fill the planters, leaves scatter the streets and walkways, and stoops are decorated with pumpkins and colorful gourds.

 

 

Central Park, Late Fall 2007

New York’s Central Park in late November is magical.  The fall colors are striking against the light dusting of snow.  This was my first (and only, to date) trip to New York.  A friend and I took a Friday off from school and took a bus from Boston to NYC for a long weekend.  We had an absolute blast taking in all the sights around Manhattan, buying souvenirs in Chinatown, and window shopping along 5th Avenue.  Added bonus: we got stopped on the sidewalk outside a hotel and mistaken for paparazzi just as Josh Groban emerged.  Both of us photographers, neither of us got the shot.  He was in his car before we realized who he was.

 

Cider Squeeze, Puyallup, WA 2009

My second year in Washington, some friends and I went to an old-fashioned cider squeeze at the Meeker Mansion in Puyallup. And if you haven’t been to an old-fashioned cider squeeze, your life is not yet complete.  We each pressed our own gallon of cider, ate donuts, and had a great time!  And doesn’t this look like a fall catalog shot?  And we didn’t even plan it!  We’re just naturally amazing.

Nathaniel Hawthorne Statue, Salem, MA

On a brilliantly gorgeous Saturday, just a week before Halloween, I took a day trip to Salem, MA.  In addition to the famous witch trials, this town was also home to the author Nathaniel Hawthorne.  The bookworm in me just couldn’t let this photo-op go by!  Oh, and a tip for fellow travelers: if you want to experience a quiet, peaceful New England hamlet…DO NOT go to Salem in October.  On the other hand, if you want to experience the madness of Halloween at it’s puritanical finest, this is the place for you.


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