Updated on 20 October 2020
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To the east of Caen, the Cider Route is a 25 mile signposted trail that criss-crosses the Pays d’Auge down picturesque country lanes connecting the villages of Beuvron-en-Auge (one of the ‘most beautiful villages in France’), Cambremer, Bonnebosq and Beaufour-Druval. Along the way, you have the choice of stopping off at over twenty cider farms!
LE CRU DE CAMBREMER in the Pays d’Auge
This landscape of densely wooded hills and dales and grazing cattle makes for a picture postcard journey through Normandy: it is punctuated by châteaux, manor houses, timber-framed cottages and apple orchards, a gift to the photographer and painter!
It is in great measure a landscape given over to the breeding and rearing of horses, and tucked away behind white fencing and high gates, set well back from the road by long driveways, can be found some of the most prestigious and wealthy stud farms in the country, known as haras (hence ‘horse’)
On the Cider Route distilleries and cider farms are indicated by the sign Cru de Cambremer.
The apples from which it is prepared are not eating apples; they bear many beautiful names such as la bouteille, le domaine, le tranquille, le bedan, le rouge-mulot or la petite sorte. These are blended in proportions kept secret by their producers, and from them a pure apple juice is produced, the first step. Cider is a living liquid, it matures, it clouds, it clears. The sugars in the pure juice will transform into alcohol, producing a drink easy on the palette and direct in taste, each a little different according to the criteria of the cider farm from which it comes. Cider is a drink that accumulates between 3° and 5°of alcohol by the fermentation of its sugars. Its strong characteristics are the result of being a totally natural product. The cider of the Cru de Cambremer has a slightly bitter edgy taste which is great for quenching the thirst.
Calvados, the apple brandy, improves with age, in contrast to cider. This wonderful eau-de-vie is still made along traditional lines and is the greatest expression of the apple you can find anywhere. The cider destined for calvados won’t be bottled but left in cask to allow the sediment to settle within. After a year or two it is ready to be distilled according to the process used in the creation of any great eau-de-vie. There are two stages in this distillation. In the first distillation the unadulterated alcohol is extracted and then passed through a second distillation process in order to obtain the calvados, giving it depth and flavour. The calvados is stored in oak casks where it picks up the tannins in the wood and ages gracefully. Its age in cask is important as it affects the sophistication of the taste and some family businesses store casks of calvados that is over 50 years old (once bottled it ceases to age, unlike wine).
The Norman apéritif consists of apple juice and calvados selected to recipes that go back into the mists of time. It also ages while in oak casks and takes on a lovely amber colour. It is best served chilled and you’ll find it easy to drink, sweet as a sherry, thirst quenching, with plenty of body.
Cider, calvados and pommeau producers in Cambremer
CIDER, CALVADOS AND POMMEAU PRODUCERS around Beuvron-en-AUge
Authentic Normandy Tourist Office (Lisieux and the Pays d’Auge)