Autumn on Normandy’s Cider Route

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EcolabelNormandyShopping and French Savoir FaireCultural HeritageFood and WineVillages and Countryside

C. Bosschard
© C. Bosschard

Reading time: 0 minPublished on 15 March 2024

In autumn, Normandy smells great. The scent of cider apples and the first wafts from distilleries float along the quiet paths, shaded by the orchards of the Pays d’Auge. Houses, markets and hamlets sparkle with activity and Calvados deserves its slogan “Un amour de Normandie” (“A love of Normandy”).

Watch Claque-Pépins ripen at a château

Surrounded by moats, the Château de Saint-Germain-de-Livet is home to a 15th-century wooden mansion and a 16th-century stone and brick building, housing frescoes and other remarkable collections. One collection is hidden at the bottom of the garden: the Lisieux conservatory orchard, containing 150 varieties of apple trees, including the rare Saint-Philbert and the Claque-Pépin. The name ‘Claque-Pépin’ comes from a type of apple variety, which when ripe, rattles when shaken. The name translates to the seeds (pépin) which rattle (claque).

Share the highlights in Calvados

Viking invasions and American landings: Normandy’s greatest historical moments are brought to life at Calvados Experience. Housed in the old Père Magloire cellars, the attraction also explains the special process of making Norman cider brandy.

Take part in the apple harvest

The ‘Calvados time’, from May to December, organises entertaining activities including a collective apple harvest at Manoir de Grandouet. This half-timbered house and its 17th-century press are hidden in the hollow of a valley on the first Cider Route, around Cambremer, recognised as a Site Remarquable du Goût. 80 dairy cows maintain the orchards and the on-site shop sells Camembert, Livarot and Pont l’Evêque alongside apple juice, AOP Pays d’Auge cider and calvados. Read more about Normandy's famous cheeses here

Inhale intoxicating aromas in the cellars

At the Ferme du Lieu Chéri in Coquainvilliers, as at Roger Groult at the Clos de la Hurvanière and at the Pierre Huet family estate, the making of AOC Pays d’Auge calvados has followed the same method for five generations. In September, the cider that has been fermenting for a year in the barrels is transferred into wood-fired stills. Before ageing in oak barrels, it’s distilled twice (double repasse). The smell of cooked apple also draws in the cows and horses!

Daydream under the apple trees

At the heart of Cambremer lies the Domaine du Coq Enchanté. Spread across three hectares of orchards are hammock chairs, a barrel-shaped sauna, a massage hut and a yoga dome, rubbing shoulders with restored cider presses and boilers. It’s one of the prettiest places along the Pays d’Auge Cider Route.

Search for forbidden fruit at the Lisieux Basilica

A centre of spirituality, the Sainte-Thérèse Basilica in Lisieux is also a monument to the history of art. Among the floral motifs of its green and glass mosaics, visitors will find an apple tree to the right of the apse. “In the Bible, the forbidden fruit is not the apple”, explains Emmanuel Houis, the Basilica’s erudite director.

-The Basilique Saint-Thérèse de Lisieux

Get lost in a labyrinth

We owe the Pays d’Auge Gardens in Cambremer to a couple of nursery specialists in apple trees, Louis and Armelle Noppe. Among the viburnum foliage and the labyrinth of boxwood are a boiler, cider press and vintage distillery. A pancake, served with apple juice or a sparkling local drink, concludes the visit. Find out more about Normandy’s autumn food and drink festivals here

Recommandations et conseils Lors de votre séjour en Normandie, n'hésitez pas à demander conseil aux propriétaires de différents lieux que vous visiterez pour obtenir les meilleures adresses auxquelles vous restaurer. De nombreuses tables privilégient les produits locaux et vous feront découvrir les spécialités régionales du moment à savourer.

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