Back in August, my parents traveled all the way from my native Norway to spend a week vacationing with me in France. More precisely in Normandy.
The beautiful region known for its apple cider (and calvados) production, cheese production (some smelly, others not so much) and the quaint half-timbered houses that are ever so charming and fairy-tale-esque!
Being given a whole lot of responsibility and becoming my parents’ personal ambassador of France (you know, considering I live in the country and all) I went out of my way to make sure we wouldn’t spend a single second of the day being even remotely bored. While doing my Normandy-research, I found plenty of articles about some kind of a Cider Route.
“When in Lower Normandy, you have to check out the Cider Route (La Route du Cidre) in Pays d’Auge. It’s a 40 kilometers stretch of idyllic scenery, pretty little villages and home to several producers of the “AOC Pays d’Auge” cider”.
Alrighty, then. Off to the Cider Route, we go!
Was it worth exploring?
You bet your sweet ass, it was.
If you weren’t already in love with the French countryside before, you sure will be after a day or two spent exploring the scenic Cider Route. The rustic charm of the half timbered houses and old fashioned cafes, makes you feel like you’ve just stepped right into a fairy tale. The traditional farmer’s markets and the cider farms, now this is the icing on the cake. It sure completes the ambiance Normande!
But… Yes, there is a but.
As amazing as it all is, at one point you might wanna take a short break from all that cider shopping and village hopping and do something else, I’m certain.
Because things can get kind of repetitive. And you can get kind of broke.
Luckily, on the Cider Route itself, there is indeed another activity you shouldn’t look past.
If you’re someone who enjoys photography (nature, macro, floral) , idyllic picnics, beautiful parks and romantic gardens – or you’re a painter/artist searching for inspiration; you’re in for a treat.
Creative souls and nature lovers alike; you are gonna love Les Jardins du Pays d’Auge (the gardens of Pays d’Auge)!
These charming botanical garden is open from May 1st until October 20th, which means you might want to hurry up if you wanna spend a day in this picturesque location before it’s closed for the season.
Back in August, while exploring the Cider Route with my mother and stepfather, I took them to Jardins du Pays d’Auge – and, just as I expected, they loved every minute of it.
Well, except from maybe the thirty minutes of sudden rain showers. But hey, Mother Nature decided it was time to water the plants – and just happened to water the three of us at the same time!
According to the lady at the ticket counter, we would need about one hour and a half to quickly see everything Jardins du Pays d’Auge had to offer. The different themed gardens, such as the rosary, the devil’s garden (Jardin du Diable), the angel’s garden (Jardin des Anges), and the September garden (Jardins de septembre), were the perfect spots for photo-enthusiasts like myself – and my mother, to take lovely photos (of each other as well as the flowers and plants).
While strolling through the gardens, at one point you will end up wandering through a maze, which will then lead you to a cute little chapel. With music playing inside of it.
Apparently the gardens are available for wedding ceremonies, so I guess the chapel is used when celebrating the most romantic events of them all. The big day.
Would you set your future wedding to a botanical garden? I sure would (if my significant other was up for it)!
On site, there are some traditional half timbered houses open for guests to explore. These houses are fully equipped with different tools formerly used in production of food, hardware and clothing, back in the good, old days before modern day technology.
As my stepdad is an engineer and naturally curious about how everything is/used to be made, this was without a doubt his favorite part of the visit.
My mother, on the other hand, was ecstatic when we walked past a small stable with two donkeys in it.
Random, I know.
She went photo-crazy and took maybe thirty pictures of the poor animals, all from the exact same angle (as they were busy eating and couldn’t give a rats ass about my mom) and then she acted as stubborn as the donkeys themselves, when my stepdad tried to pull her away from them so that we could move on and continue our visit.
I’m not sure if it’s allowed to bring your own food into the gardens or not, but we did it anyway. Earlier that day, we bought a couple of sandwiches from a nice little bakery in the village of Cambremer (where Jardins du Pays d’Auge is located). We hid the goods in my stepdad’s backpack and saved them for the right occasion; picnic time in beautiful scenery!
If the weather (or the staff) is telling you your picnic ain’t gonna happen, and you happen to be so hungry you’d easily start chewing on flowers and leaves from the trees, fear not. Put the flowers down and wait until you’ve finished the tour around the gardens.
You see, on site – just in front of the entrance to the gardens – there is a lovely crêperie just waiting for your hungry belly to be fed with delicious galettes (savory pancakes) and crêpes (sweet pancakes).
Well, if you’re visiting the gardens between May and September, that is.
My parents and I, finished our sandwiches, finished the tour, and ended our visit. The rain showers had made the grass wet and slippery, which again had made our shoes wet and muddy. But it didn’t bother me, nor my parents. In fact, my stepdad was thrilled.
“Now, this has been a great day. Beautiful scenery. Tranquility. This beats all the villages that kind of look the same, anyway”.
His words, not mine.
Go to LesJardinsduPaysdAuge.com for more information and updates.