Deux like the French

A native's advice when traveling in France

La Feuille de Vigne wine shop, specializing in French wines, called The Grapeleaf. ##Photo by  Mélodie Picard
Picard in the tiny village of Camembert, where she bought the only camembert cheese still handmade with local, raw normand cows’ milk. It’s illegal in the U.S. ##Photo by  Mélodie Picard
Breakfast at La Petite Rade hôtel on the beach of Le Havre, Picard’s hometown. ##Photo by  Mélodie Picard

By Mélodie Picard

August is vacation time in Europe, particularly in France. After recently returning from a visit home to Normandie (Normandy for those raised elsewhere), I want to share some holiday tips, specifically about wine and cheese.


I was hard-pressed finding Oregon wines, know that I tried. Most French locals will tell you they are not available or too expensive. Many asked if it was even good. As you and I know, they are missing out. My home region is known for cheese like camembert, orchards, and ciders of apple and pear, not wine. In most of France, one is limited to the locally produced wine but in the northern coastal area, you can have all the French wines!

Do check out the grocery aisles when visiting small shops. It’s great fun to see how others shop and find new bottles and compare prices. I bought quality Champagne for $18 near my mother’s home, in the middle of nowhere Normandie.


Eat all the cheese! You’ll find many cheeses; from locally-made, store-bought, recommended by someone, freshly cut, newly made, even the weird. Seek out cheese you crave at that moment.

Break the rules

Cheese sure loves wine, don’t hesitate: get creative with your food pairings. For example, in my hometown of Le Havre, a northern French port, I ate mussels on the beach. Rather than a crisp white wine, such as a Picpoul de Pinet, I paired the dish with a classic Normand cider.

Accompaniments and company

When enjoying wine and cheese, try experimenting with little food sides where flavors reflect or accentuate those found in your wine can greatly increase your pleasure. Those extras make all the difference. Find a match.

Berries in Oregon, including our famous Marionberries, are in full swing in August. Try eating them while sipping a red wine made in our state.

As far as company goes, follow the same advice: find people who match your drinking mood.

See the sights

Scenery wraps up the whole pairing experience like snuggling in a warm cozy blanket. Go have adventures and maybe your choice of wine will dictate where you go. My recent trip was to visit family, yet cheese guided my way. Let wine and cheese guide yours, too.

Bon voyage et bon appétit.

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