Upon arriving at this farm, situated in a small village just outside of Caen, you’ll immediately know you’re not at your typical cider farm. With a large sign reading ‘DREAMS’ out front and a farmhouse-chic dining room, Ferme de Billy masters the combination of Norman tradition with modern-day appeal. In addition to their production of ciders, pommeaus, Calvados and apple juices, they serve an epic brunch every Saturday and Sunday. Perhaps what the sign mentioned earlier is alluding to, this spread is the stuff dreams are made of: served buffet-style with one sweet table and one savoury and both brimming with every brunch item imaginable.
Located along the Cider Route in the heart of the Pays d’Auge, Domaine Pierre Huet is a classic Norman cider farm, currently in its fifth generation of a family business that’s been around since 1865. Here, learn about traditional cider distilling techniques, followed by a tasting in a typically Norman half-timbered home while the family imparts their in-depth knowledge of cider making.
While farmers are becoming increasingly aware of the benefits of natural farming and offer a few organic labels in their collection, all of the ciders found at Le Père Mahieu are certified organic. Located in the small town of Les Pieux between Cherbourg and Barneville-Carteret, this farm lets nature take the reigns when it comes to ensuring all is in order in the orchard. Limiting their interventions, they have many allies helping them out: ladybugs that tackle aphids, birds that snack on insects and bees that promote pollination. The result is a cider which you can rest assured is free of any contact with pesticides or other undesired chemicals.
Le Pressoir d’Or in Normandy’s Eure region offers novel twists on the traditional cider. The new guy in town is cidre de glace, or ice cider, which is made by pressing apples that froze during the winter months. The result is sort of ‘apple wine’ that’s very fragrant and sweet-tasting. Other spins include their pétill’pomme, which offers the fizz and flavour of cider without the alcohol and their beautiful cidre rosé, coral in colour with a fruity yet semi-dry mouthfeel.
If your taste buds grow tired of traditional cider, head to Ferme des Martellières. Found in the small village of Sept-Forges in the Orne region, here is where you can sample poiré, a beverage similar to cider made with pressed and fermented pears rather than apples. The production of poiré is limited in France due to the scarcity of pear trees and bears an AOC (Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée) label as well as an AOP (Appellation d’Origine Protégée). Like cider, the drink is effervescent with a low alcohol percentage of around three percent.
If you want to discover an array of ciders rather than hone in on one producer, head to Compagnie des Calvados, La Cave Honfleuraise. Well-versed in apple-based beverages, they offer a wide selection from various farms and are happy to provide their guidance. It’s a great spot to pick up bottles to bring back home for friends and family, too. If not in the Honfleur area, other stores offering a variety of ciders and other Norman delights include Made in Calvados in Caen and La Cave de Troarn between Caen and Beuvron-en-Auge.