"Calvados, Conquerors, and Cheese" Coutances by rexvaughan

Coutances Travel Guide: 22 reviews and 95 photos

Good base for Normandy

Like most schoolboys of my era, the study of history was not one in which I excelled, partly due to my lack of interest and partly due to the pedantic and boring way in which it was presented. However, some dates stick in one’s mind just because of their importance. Two of those dates are the year 1066 and June 6, 1944. Two events which are of great importance in the history of Western civilization. And two events intimately associated with Normandy. I am very fortunate to have been able to see much associated with both the Norman conquest of England and the Allied landings on the Normandy beaches.
Two of the main things we wanted to see in Normandy were the D-Day Beaches and the Bayeux Tapestry. One of our friends had stayed at the lovely Le Bocage, a bed and breakfast owned and operated by a retired British major general and his wife. He is also a military historian and does tours of the beaches so we based ourselves there in a small town about 10 miles from Coutances which is and about 30 miles from Bayeux. It made our touring plan quite easy.

Good cheeses abound

Coutances is an important commercial center for the area which is heavily agricultural and leads France in the production of butter, soft cheeses, cider apples and cidre. Most of our time was spent in the Calvados department of the region Basse-Normandie which is famous for its apple brandy called, appropriately enough, Calvados. My niece particularly loved a locally produced and milder version of Calvados called Pommeau. It is a mixture of partially fermented apple and calvados brandy and is a lighter, sweeter drink than Calvados but stronger than cider. Very tasty.

Beautiful town

Coutances is a nice town with the cathedral, of course, dominating the center with a nice plaza in front of it and a commercial area running down the hill from the cathedral. It predates Roman times and was probably originally a Celtic settlement with Normans and Franks coming to take over things at various points in history. The fact that Coutances is an important service and retail center was brought home to me by the fact that our party needed some adaptors for US electrical devices that would enable them to work in France. We found an Orange store in Coutances which had exactly what we needed – top notch adaptors which will work virtually anywhere in the world. Also when we were searching for food, restaurant, grocer or anything, on a Sunday evening, we found nothing open until we were headed out of town and came upon a MacDonald’s. I don’t often eat at MacDonald’s, but we were all hungry so stopped in and had a nice meal.

  • Last visit to Coutances: Apr 2012
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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