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Calvados (Department, France)

Last modified: 2005-12-24 by ivan sache
Keywords: calvados | basse-normandie | apple (white) |
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[Flag of the General Council of Calvados]

Flag of the General Council of Calvados - Image by Ivan Sache, 2 November 2002

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Administrative data

Code: 14
Region: Basse-Normandie
Traditional provinces: Normandy
Bordering departments: Eure, Manche, Orne

Area: 5,548 km2
Population (1995): 633,800 inhabitants

Préfecture: Caen
Sous-préfectures: Bayeux, Lisieux, Vire
Subdivisions: 4 arrondissements, 49 cantons, 704 communes.

Flag of the General Council

The General Council of Calvados uses a white flag with the logotype of the General Council in the middle. The flag can be seen for instance during events sponsored by the General Council.

The logotype is made of two approximate square fields placed side by side, on the left a green square with a white apple, on the right a blue square with two white waves. Conseil Général is written above the logo, Calvados below it. That writing is in blue.

The department has a nearly rectangular shape, which might have been reproduced on the logo.

The green square with the apple symbolizes the agricultural tradition of the department, and more generally of Normandy, which is often represented by pastures planted with apple trees. Apples are used to produce cider, calvados and pommeau. Cider has been produced in Normandy since the Middle Ages. One metric ton of cider apples can yield 650 to 750 liters of cider, classified as doux (sweet) when below 3° or brut (raw) when between 4 and 5°. Traditional cider (more than 5°) is a farm production. In the past, cider presses had circular millstones made of wood or granite and were powered by a horse. Distilation of cider gives calvados. The oldest mention of calvados distilling dates back to the XVIth century. There are now two protected brands of calvados called calvados and calvados du pays d'Auge, respectively. Since the XVIth century, apple juice was preserved in calvados. That mixture (16-18°) is now a protected brand called pommeau. Calvados was traditionnally used in the trou normand (Normand hole). This "hole" is a break made in a long meal, during which a small glass of calvados is drunk bottoms up. The "hole" is expected to stimulate the appetite for the rest of the meal. The famous gastronom Curnonsky said the the trou normand speeds up the digestion of the first part of the meal and allows to start its second part with great style". More and more often, the trou normand is now made of an apple sorbet washed down with calvados.

The blue square with the waves symbolizes the coast of the department, known as Côte de Nacre (east) and Côte Fleurie (west). At the end of the XIXth century, sea resorts were built on that coast, the most famous of them being Deauville and Cabourg. These resorts were not far from Paris and attracted the upper society of the Belle Epoque. The writer Marcel Proust described Cabourg (as Balbec) in A la recherche du temps perdu (especially in A l'ombre des jeunes filles en fleur and Sodome et Gomorrhe II). The book was based on his personal experience as a tourist in the Grand Hôtel in Cabourg, where his room can still be rented - and visited when not rented. In June 1944, the peaceful beaches of the Côte de Nacre received code names of Omaha, Gold, Juno, and Sword Beach (from west to east) and were the place of the Allied landing (along with Utah Beach, located in the department of Manche). They are now collectively known as Plages du Débarquement (Landing Beaches) and are one of the most visited places in France.

Ivan Sache, 2 November 2002