When you are traveling around Normandy, you can get Cider and visit farms and producers on pretty much any country road you take. We did find a concentrated area of nicely organized cider houses near the villages of Beuvron-en-Auge and Cambremer, in which the tourist office dubs the Cider Trail. It overlaps the Camembert trail as well, so I was basically ready to move here after about five minutes.
It was alternately pouring rain out and blindingly sunny. Typical. Cambremer had a great little market in the square where some of the vendors were dressed up in costumes!
There was plenty of cider and calvados to sample as well. I'm not so sure about the calvados, the distilled cider that's popular here. Like brandy, you can really tell the difference the more it's been aged, and the well-aged stuff was much more money than I wanted to spend on something that wasn't whiskey. I did get a bottle of Pommeau- it's part calvados and part apple juice. It's an aperitif, and much sweeter and smoother than the calvados alone. We sampled plenty of ciders- sweet, demi-sec and dry bruts. I prefer the drier varieties, but they all go down smooth.
And Beer! Bryan found the one small brewery in Normandy at the market and proceeded to pelt him with all sorts of questions. The owner is an expat from the UK, so he makes a more hoppy style beer than what is typical here.
The entire area is surrounded by apple orchards. Due to the fact that the climate is a little cooler and wetter here, not a vineyard survives. Apples are the fermentable of choice.
Pierre Huet has a very Sonoma-inspired cellar, with a large bar for tasting and parking lots for buses to take a cellar tour. He may be the Robert Mondavi of the cider world- the other operations seemed a bit more rustic, but they were producing just as good cider.
We took a nice damp walk through the Orchards and gardens and bravely sat outside under an umbrella at a little tucked-away creperie.
It was really just an excuse to sample more cider. The galettes weren't half bad either.