Touring Normandy France and Drinking Cidre Part III
August 6, 2012
Part of the reason we went to Normandy was because we had been told by some British cidermakers that Normandy actually has a Cider Route. I was excited – a whole route for cider designed for tourists, complete with road signs and everything. Enough with the random stops!
First off, none of the websites are very helpful. I had been told to ask for something at the Tourist Office, which I did in Bayeux, and I was handed a pathetic map from one of the websites. It was no help what so ever as I had no idea how to get there or where the cider producers were. So, being armed with a recommendation from a Brit to do the blue route and go to Grandval, I went to Grandval. Once I was there, I mentioned the lack of information, at which point they actually had an English pamphlet that I had been looking for all along! And hey, it says that the recommended retail price for 2012 cider is €3. I needed this back in Bayeux.
Grandval was great, and I’m glad they were recommended to me. We watched a short video in French on how they grew and harvested the apples, cleaned them, crushed and pressed, and then fermented them. We got to talking (in English), and she showed us all of the industrial equipment. Surprisingly, they use a bladder press, which does not get as big of juice yield compared to other presses. She also showed us the still for making calvados. My husband Burtle commented to me later that this place seemed to focus on the cider first, as they had lots of awards to show off to us for cider. However, they only seemed to have four ciders, which was technically the same cider at a different sweetness level, of which we bought three, one for each of the remaining days we had in Europe. I also found out here that Normandy does not really produce high sugar apples. For me, I except at least 6% ABV in a cider, and to be less than that means it has been altered and possibly inferior. There, only the driest ciders could hit 5% ABV. Completely different location has completely different rules of nature.
Anyway, now armed with the proper map, we realized three things. 1. The next cidery on our route didn’t have a tasting room despite them having signs out at the road. 2. We started in Cambremer and worked counter clockwise towards Saint-Ouen-Le-Pin, which is actually the name of the blue route. This was a horrible mistake, as all the cideries appeared to be behind us. 3. Our final destination was Honfleur to the north, but even though there is the green route Saint-Ouen-Le-Pin à Bonnebosq, there wasn’t actually any cideries on that section of the route. Alas, if I got to do this trip again, I would start at Bonnebosq and work my way counter clockwise towards Gradval, which would be the last stop, going in order of the map numbers. The map even marks two chateaus to visit that way. I wish I had known. I would have seen so much more, but we couldn’t afford the time to backtrack.
- While the Calvados Tourisme website isn’t the best, they are the ones who make the little map I am referring to in this blog. It is their publications you want, so ask every Tourist Information in the area until you get it. It is a trifold papmlet, and inside shows roads with the cider route and has 18 points showing cider producers along with other sites. It also lists the Syndicate of ‘Cru de Cambremer’ as shown exactly on their website.
- La Route du Cidre
- La Route du Cidre circuits
- France This Way
- Calvados Tourisme recipes for cidre and calvados, along with lists of producers.
Next week: Calvados Country