Cider is an age-old drink that has been enjoyed since ancient times.
This alcoholic drink made from apples is usually associated with Brittany. However its roots originate from elsewhere: the Spanish Basque Country. In the 5th Century, the Normand explorers would have brought it to their lands and started to produce it themselves, alongside the production of pear cider (Poiré in French).
Under the same title as wine, spirits, and beer, cider is now equally listed as “patrimoine culturel de la France” (French cultural heritage).
Discover this regional produce by following two dedicated itineraries, one in Normandy and the other in Brittany.
Normandy and Brittany: Cider Hotspots
In Caen, Normandy, partake in the discovery of cider through a specially created circuit: the Cider Route. 40km long, this touristic itinerary invites you to meet the people who produce their Pays d’Auge cider of appellation d’origine protegée* status. The routes, surrounded by orchards and timber-framed houses, will lead you through cider mills upon cider mills.
For example, make time to stop at the Caves du Manoir de Grandouet (Grandouet Manor cider cellars). After learning how the apple press room and the distillation tanks work, sample some of the exceptional cider that they produce, crafted from their own personal savoir-faire and experience.
In Brittany, it’s almost impossible to separate the perfect blend of cider, crepes, and Breton galette (crepes made using black flour).
In the surroundings of Quimper, take a walk through the Cider Route in Cornouaille, where the only appellation d’origine protégée* cider of the region is produced. Disembark on a journey through the stunning landscapes between the land and the sea, accompanied by visits and taste-testing.
If you want to find out more about the copper stills used for cider distillation, rendez-vous at the Musée de l’Alambic (Stills Museum) housed in the Artisanale du Plessis Distillery in Quimper.
Brittany and Normandy definitely aren’t the only regions of France where cider is produced. Loire Valley, Limousin, Champagne-Ardenne, Savoie in the Alps and even the Basque country all have produce of their own.
Cider, a drink to savor throughout the year
Even with every season being an appropriate time to drink apple and pear cider in France, there are certain occasions that are more-so dedicated to sampling the drinks in particular. For example, all types of cider (sweet, demi-sec or dry) are enjoyed with stacks of crepes and galette de rois (kings cake) when celebrating The Epiphany.
Traditionally named Poiré, pear cider is another alcoholic drink made through fermentation, but evidently with pears instead of apples.
Find it in Brittany, Picardie. It’s also well known in Normandy, particularly in the Domfrontais, where the oldest place for pear cider creation resides. There are trees here that have been growing for over 300 years!
Try Domfront Cider here, a fantastic *appellation d’origine controlée*\ pear cider, with this geographical indication extending from the North of France down to Western Loire.
*French geographical indication equivalent of Protected Designation of Origin (PDO)
**French geographical indication equivalent of Protected Geographical Indication (PGI)