Two French regions compete for the favors of cider lovers: Brittanyand Normandy. To find you there, we tell you everything about Breton and Norman ciders, from their manufacture to their consumption, or how to become unbeatable on the cider lands of France in 5 minutes!
The making of cider: quite an art!
© Shutterstock – The apple harvest in Normandy
The fruit harvest takes place from mid-September to December, in the Breton and Norman orchards. Once harvested, the apples are sorted, washed, crushed (skin, flesh and seeds included), then pressed to extract their juice, called “must”. The juice is then stored in vats (sometimes oak barrels) for fermentation. Once bottled, the cider will rest in a cellar for a few weeks to several months, depending on the taste the cider farmer wishes to obtain.
Sweet, raw or farm cider?
© Shutterstock – Different bottles of Norman ciders
Cider can take on several colors, from light yellow to amber, with an alcohol level between 2 and 6 degrees, depending on its fermentation. It is classified into several categories: sweet, raw, farmer or mouthful. The sweet cider is lighter and sweeter, the raw, stronger on the palate. Farm cider is produced from apples from the farm that produces it. Finally, the cider bouché owes its name to its packaging, since its bottle is closed with a cork stopper! The must to taste it? Serve it in an earthenware bowl. In the past, in the countryside, people were not rich enough to own glass or earthenware dishes. They then made it in terracotta. The glasses looked like small bowls, nicknamed “bolées”. Today, the bowls are also made of ceramic.
Exceptional Breton ciders
Brittany can boast of producing some exceptional ciders. The most famous is made in the Cornouaille region and bears its name: Cornouaille AOP cider. It is the only Breton cider to benefit from a protected designation of origin. Another exceptional cider that you absolutely must know: the Royal Guillevic, the only Label Rouge cider in France, from the Nicol cider house. It has the particularity of being made only with Guillevic apples. Finally, the Domaine de Kervéguen, located in the north of Brittany, produces a vintage from organic farming, called Prestige Carpe Diem. For the anecdote, it is the cider that we find on the table of the Élysée since 1997!
Stop on the cider route in Normandy
© Shutterstock – A field of apple trees in Calvados in Normandy
In autumn, during the apple harvest, it is the opportunity to take a little getaway on the cider route in Normandy , to discover the PDO ciders of the Pays d’Auge and Cotentin. Spread over 40 kilometers, with stopovers in the typical villages of Cambremer, Beuvron-en-Auge, Bonnebosq and Beaufour-Druval, this walk allows you to meet around twenty cider producers. The producers will also present you the other specialties of the region, such as pommeau and calvados.
Zoom on the Norman perry
It is the other local cider… but based on pears! Perry, nicknamed “Norman champagne” for its bubbles and its pretty golden color, is made in the Domfrontais, a region which covers the departments of Orne, Manche and Mayenne, in the Normandy countryside. This sparkling and festive drink is consumed throughout the year and is produced in the same way as apple cider. Perry even has its PDO Poiré Domfront, the smallest protected designation of origin in France!