Normandy– the northern state of France has gained a lot of popularity from WWII. Its D-Day beach and war monuments are the number one tourist sites. Apart from this, Normandy is popular for its scenic white cliffs along the sea-line. The tidal island Mont St. Michel is yet another popular site in Normandy. Normandy’s weather is unpredictable but it fails to restrict nature lovers visiting the region. Normandy also holds the ‘Title of AOC’ for varieties of cheese such as Camembert and Neufchatel etc. As we are talking about cheese, its cows have to be of best breed. If you are non-vegetarian, you might have heard of Normandy’s pork and lamb dishes.
In addition to all these numerous sites and things to do in Normandy, there is one more activity lesser known to tourists. That is the Cider Route. Like Normandy’s popular seafood, apples are also well known. There is a regional apple liquor called Calvados which is best paired with Normandy’s cheeses. Through this Cider route, one can unfold the journey of apples from farms to the table.
The well-marked and signed cider route is about 40 km passing through Pays d’Auge region of lower Normandy. The region Pays d’Auge is popular for typical half-timbered houses, stud farms and apple orchards. Some of the orchards are more than 200 years old. Today, Calvados, Cider, and Pommeau are the main products of these orchards. Even though they do not advertise, you will get the best of Apple juice in this region.
Tip: While in the Normandy region, if you want to order juice in the restaurants, definitely go for apple juice. It comes in huge quantity and the taste is unbeatable.
Many of these orchard owners have now converted their enormously large properties into tourist accommodations. A couple of nights stay on these properties, you can thoroughly enjoy the nature, visit the production units and if interested and available, bet on the horse race also.
One can even visit some cider and Calvados production units without staying on their properties. In this case, you will be escorted by their employee showing various stages of the production right from the farms to the shop. At the end of such tours, you may get to taste the authentic local cuisine with house products like cheese, meat, and Calvados. All these tours are paid ones and the rates vary with the owners and also depending on what is offered on the tour.
How to plan for Cider Route
There are many options for apple orchards on this route to choose from. Each one has different tours on offer at variable rates. You can get details on this website. Check all the tours and properties and then select as per your interests. I will suggest to contact them in advance and book the tour. During the off-season, they may cancel their tours and during high season, you may not get a place on available tours.
If you can stay on such properties for a night or so, it can be a nice experience in the heart of nature. But you don’t have to stay here. You can simply do only the selected tour/s and go ahead to your next destination, maybe Mont St. Michel, which is about 2 hours by car via Caen. If you enjoy such visits, then the home of Camembert cheese is just adjacent to this cider route.
While you are on Cider route exploring various hereditary properties and their enormous wealth, do not ignore the small towns you pass along. These are typical of Normandy towns with the half-timbered house. People may not look that rich but are very friendly. You may have to struggle for the language but always see their welcoming smiles. If you like, have a lunch in a small local restaurant serving authentic and no-fancy dishes.
During my visit to Normandy, I visited this Cider and Calvados production company. They have some tour options and one can purchase their products on site as well.
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