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Biscuit factory tour

Everything there is to know about making Sablés Normands

Foodies by nature, we love visiting the shop belonging to this famous maker of Sablé Normand biscuits in Bagnoles de l’Orne. But how about visiting the Biscuiterie de l’Abbaye factory, just 30 minutes from here?

A traditional biscuit factory
at Lonlay l’Abbaye

Located in the middle of a village of 1200 inhabitants that is famous for its 11th-century Benedictine Abbey, the biscuit factory offers a free guided tour of its kitchens all year round.

On this Wednesday in March we set out with the children to explore the biscuit factory. Mathilde welcomed us at the entrance and we put on our white coats and hats to ensure everything stayed hygienic and safe. The children were amused by the clothing but were also impatient to get into the kitchens.

“Once upon a time, the biscuit factory was very different from this one,” told us our guide. The first sablés were made in 1909 in a bakery in the village. Between two batches of bread, Virgile Fouilleul was in the habit of cooking sablés that each weighed a kilo in a wood-fired oven, which were then sent to the soldiers at the front.

When he died, his son-in-law Georges Latour took over the bakery. Called up during the Second World War, he decided on his return to start making Sablés Normands in order to relaunch his business. His wife gave him her father’s recipe and the Sablé de l’Abbaye was born!

Biscuit making

We followed our guide into the production area of the kitchens. The current site opened in 1964 and was built by Georges’ son and son-in-law who in turn developed the business. Today, Charles, Virgile’s great-grandson continues the family adventure.

 Kneading

First, we go into the kneading room. This is where the biscuit dough is made! Three large kneading machines enable the bakers to make three different recipes. When we visited the kitchens, they were making Sablés de l’Abbaye, Sablés aux Fruits and biscuits made with Normandy butter.

 Shaping

After the dough has rested, we watched them shaping Sablés de l’Abbaye. The dough is put into a machine that gives the biscuit its round crinkle-cut shape and marks it with the abbey’s decorative stamp.

 Baking

We continue the tour by following the route taken by the biscuits along a conveyor belt that leads into a 25 metre-long tunnel oven. After a few minutes of baking, the sablés go through a cooling tunnel equipped with an ingenious ventilation system.

 Packaging

We finished the tour in the biscuit packaging room. Here, several types of packaging are carried out. Although machines are used to wrap the biscuits in packets and cardboard boxes, biscuit tins are hand filled.

Biscuit tasting

At the end of the tour, it’s time to taste! We go back to the cloakroom and rejoin Mathilde in the biscuit factory’s shop. This very instructive tour has made our mouths water. The children are already delighted to see all the colourful packets of biscuits on the shelves of the factory’s shop.

Mathilde has chosen several of the biscuit factory’s signature biscuits for us to try, including Sablé de l’Abbaye, Chocoladise – a sablé covered in chocolate, Le Trouvillais – a fruit sablé, and Le Petit-Normand, a biscuit made with Normandy butter. My favourite? The delicious little hazelnut and caramel ones covered in milk chocolate!

To book this visit (in french) : 02 33 30 64 64