Situated near the town of Lisieux in Normandy, the Domaine Saint Hippolyte is an award-winning farm set on a hillside in a thick of apple trees. “We are a living postcard of Normandy’s past and present,” proclaims the director, Madame Leroux. The Domaine Saint Hippolyte dates from the 16th century. Brown- spotted Normand cows, the race normand, graze on the lush green grass of the pastures. Madame Leroux proudly explains, “These are happy cows and that’s why their milk is so special. This is the secret to our award-winning cheeses.”
The Domaine is a typical Normand half-timbered manor house which majestically oversees the valley. Founded in order to protect the race normand cows, the Domaine continues the tradition of farm-made pont l’eveque and livarot cheeses, the “grandparents” of well-known camembert. In this serene realm the estate caretakers uphold the quality of the iconic cheese and butter that make Normandy a sought-after culinary destination.
A visit to the Domaine offers an insider’s perspective. First, an informative guided tour of the grounds provides insights into the history of the Domaine. Next, you can follow the cows into the barn to witness an incredible sight: they actually frolic in the hay as if they are dancing together! After this unusual entertainment, visit the dairy and observe the artisans turning “happy cow’s” milk into gold medal-winning cheese. Back at the welcome center, enjoy a dégustation of the AOP cheeses accompanied by a glass of the Pays d’Auge Cidre.
La pièce de résistance? A relaxing “pique-nique gourmand” of cheese, bread, apples, sausage and cider packed in a basket for you to enjoy stream-side on the lush grounds. Madame Leroux wishes you, “Bon appétit!”
Domaine Saint Hippolyte: Route de Livarot – D579, 14100 St. Martin de la Lieue. 02 31 31 30 68. Open April – Sept for individuals, 5.90 euros entrance fee; open year-round for groups with reservation.
Certified France specialists Kathy Morton and Debra Fioritto are travel planners for New York-based Tour de Forks. Recipients of the Julia Child Endowment Fund Scholarship, they design personalized epicurean adventures in France. Past clients include Ina Garten of Food Network and Barefoot Contessa fame.