The sultry heat of August occasioned an afternoon trip to the Normandy coast and the small town of Blonville-sur-Mer. There the beach is long, sandy, pristeenly white and not so very crowded. We strolled the boardwalk until we found the perfect spot to sit on the sand and watch the waves roll in. Few people were in the water, which was warmer than winter but still not quite warm enough to entice us in. I’m sure an end-of-August trip will include a dip.
After a langourous few hours on the beach we retraced our steps, headed for dinner at La Crêperie du Coin in the charming little village of Villerville, not far from Blonville between Trouville and Honfleur. Villerville is a perfect little jewel of a palce, where lanes lined with narrow, steep-roofed homes lead to verdant cliffs and winding stairways to the beach. It was made famous by the Jean Gabin film Un Singe en Hiver, which was filmed in the tiny central crossroads of the same name,in the heart of Villerville. La Crêperie du Coin is on one side of the crossroads, the vintage 1930’s Le Cabaret Normand is on the other. We settled into one of the outdoor tables at La Crêperie du Coin, and save for the recent vintages of cars that snaked through the crossroads from time to time, we might have been in 1930’s France.
As is typical on the Norman coast in August, the crowd is Parisian chic and patrons of La Crêperie were no exception. They congregate at this spot where owner Denis Gaffé, tall, weathered, with Belmondo-like eyebrows, greets each customer with a hearty handshake, a cigarette dangling from his fingers. He has a permanent seat at one of the outdoor tables where he nurses a drink, holds court and, when it’s time to make the savory buckwheat galettes and the sweet white flour crêpes, ambles inside to the kitchen.
Each of his savory galette holds within it an ode to Norman ingredients, from melted Camembert and crême fraîche dotted with fresh chives to the hand-cut ham and cheese, to local goat cheese and walnuts.
What is speculoos butter? It’s a Belgian confection that tastes like those gorgeous little Belgian spice cookies which French cafés now serve almost systematically alongside espresso. It can take the place of peanut butter or nutella at the breakfast table or, as at La Crêperie du Coin, it can be spread on a cr pe hot from the griddle. When next you’re in Normandy, I recommend a visit to La Crêperie du Coin and the tiny little paradise of Villerville.