For those of us who love France (who doesn’t?) but tend to prefer apples to grapes, there is one place that can’t be missed: Normandy. The cider produced in Normandy is one of the most in-demand beverages in the world, and one you’ve tried it you’ll know why. Many will agree that the best way to experience it is by travelling the Normandy Cider Route, which leads visitors on a picturesque tour around the region’s best breweries, stopping by charming historic towns and hamlets on the way. It’s a perfectly unique gourmet holiday far away from the bustling tourist areas.
The Cider Route will take you around the Pays d’Auge in lower Normandy on a 40-kilometre circular route (which is very well signposted) Those twenty-some cider producers who are “officially” part of the route are marked as Cru de Cambremer. However, more locations can be discovered off the beaten track and each of these will be more than happy to share their craft with visitors. With so much choice, there’s no need to make every single stop on the route. So if you’re thinking about booking a holiday along the Red Apple Road, these are the top three places we recommend adding to your itinerary.
Fun Fact: The climate in Normandy sets it quite apart from its wine-producing French neighbours. The unpredictable cold makes in ideas for apples, but less so for grapes. Half of France’s apples are produced here.
Cambremer is an excellent starting point for your journey. It is located in the Calvados department, the region most associated with apple brandy, but this village certainly knows how to make a crisp and refreshing cider. Take a tour of the Calvados Pierre Huet (one of the regions most celebrated distilleries) distillery to sample Calvados, Pommeau and perry along with your cider, then stock up for the rest of your holiday in the shop next door. The orchards surrounding the half-timbered colombage building are an idyllic place to spend a sunny day, and the village itself is equally welcoming and attractive.
From Cambremer the Cider Route will lead you through Grandouet, Montreuil-en-Auge, St-Ouen-le-Pin, La Roque-Baignard, Bonnebosq, Beaufour-Druval, Saint-Aubin-Lébizay, Beuvron-en-Auge, Hotot-en-Auge, Victot-Pontfol and Rumesnil before bringing you right back to the beginning.
Fun Fact: The Normandy apple tree is practically a mythical creature, first written about as early as the year 862. The art of cider making came to Normandy by way of the Spanish Basque country in the 12th century. Many ancient apple orchards were later destroyed by bombs in WWII, and cidermakers would bury barrels of the precious Calvados to be resurfaced after the war and offered to Allied troops.
Beuvron-en-Auge has been voted one of the most beautiful villages in France, thanks to its 16th-century houses, award-winning flower displays and winding country lanes. Best-known for geraniums and cider, there are annual festivals celebrating both: the Flower Festival takes place in May and the Cider Festival in August. This is also an excellent place to go hunting for antiques, with several shops throughout the village. Book a table at the Pave d’Auge restaurant to soak up your cider with some delicious gourmet food – the plateau de fromages is a delectable highlight.
Fun Fact: There are four varieties of Normandy apples: bitter, sweet-bitter, sweet and acidic.
This quiet village is home to one of the most famous cider producers in Normandy: Domaine Dupont. The family-run estate spreads over 74 acres and offers daily tours, but if you miss that you’re still free to wander around the lush green fields. Although the cider produced here is close to perfect, you might find yourself distracted by the sweet, caramel taste of Calvados Cream, a smooth liqueur also produced on the estate. The village also has some great architecture and landmarks to tour in an afternoon – so definitely consider extending your visit.
Who’s feeling up for some long walks in the Normandy countryside right about now? If you’re looking for a great place to stay in the area, have a look at our selection of chateaux in Normandy! If you need some help finding your perfect one, just get in touch with our concierge team.
Looking for a full list of villas to rent this year? Check out our villa holidays page here.