With 355km of coastline, fishing related trades are of great importance in Manche and the department has a high reputation for seafood.
Coastal restaurants in places like Granville, Barfleur and St-Vaast offer fruits de mer in season - fan shaped scallops, marine mussels caught off Barfleur or farmed on the Cotes de Havres and spider crabs and lobsters from Mont St Michel Bay along with more unusual praire and palourde clams.
90% of all welks caught in French waters pass through the fish market at Granville. Oysters from the west and east coasts have their own AOC status - try those famously farmed at St-Vaast-la-Hougue reputed to have a flavour like hazelnut.
Lush and nourishing pastures of the Manche produce tasty butter, cheese and yoghurt used lavishly in regional cooking. Look for dishes of delicious beef and veal, tender ‘pre sale’ lamb nurtured on the salt marshes of Mont St Michel Bay and mouth watering pork charcuterie such as andouille sausages and rillettes pate.
Take home fish soup, Coutances cheese creamier than Brie, and a whole range of wonderful local foods from high quality delicatessens - epicerie fine - such as Epicerie Gosselin in St-Vaast and La Cour du Paradis in Villedieu.
Apple orchards are a feature of the Manche countryside and the Normandy tradition of cider and apple brandy (calvados) making continues here. Many farms sell their produce direct and include tours with delicious tastings.
If you spot sunflower signs with ‘Bienvenue a la Ferme’ take the opportunity to enjoy a home-cooked meal or snack. These farms often offer produce for sale and guided visits. The sandy soil around Creances close to the sea north of Coutances has produced fine leeks, beetroot and salsify since the thirteenth century.
Today, their carrots have a ‘label rouge’ of excellence celebrated by a Carrot Festival held every second Saturday in August. Go along to Creances with thousands of other visitors to join in the fun, including cooking competitions, parade of carrot growers, music and a market (tourist office (00 33) 2 33 45 05 71).