If you are a cider and apple geek like me, your vacations might often turn into cider adventures. No matter where I go, I am always seeking new ciders and apples to try. My wife thought we were going to Highclere for a valentine’s tea. The reality was because it was on the way to Somerset! I admit that I also enjoy exploring history, so visiting Highclere, Stonehenge, Glastonbury, and other historic sites on our English cider tour is like serving cider with pizza. History and cider make a great pairing. I was lucky enough to have another wonderful cider adventure when we visited Vannes, France. You know it’s going to be a great adventure when you find a box with bottles of local cider sitting outside a shop for €3.50 for a 750ml bottle.
France is generally known for its wines, but cider or cidre in French, has been made in the Brittany and Normandy regions of France for hundreds, if not thousands of years. Most people who know French ciders, know those from Normandy. At least French ciders and perries found in the United States are more often from Normandy. Brittany, which is also called Breton in French or Bretagne in Gallic, has a long and proud history of cider making. They also have galettes, which along with cidre, is ubiquitous for the region. You could say galettes and cider are like pizza and cider for me. They are a perfect pairing and offer incalculable variations. If you love cider and you’ve never been to Brittany, start planning your trip.
I had already planned my dinner for the first night of our stay, which was at a crêperie inside the old city walls of Vannes. Located on the Gulf of Morbihan, which is a southern department in the region of Brittany, Vannes is ancient city, and still boasts a full medieval walled city at its heart. You will find many crêperies inside and outside those walls. The main items served at crêperies in Brittany are galettes, crepes, and ciders. Galettes are large thin buckwheat pancakes that are savory. Cheese, egg, and ham are common ingredients but you will find an almost infinite number of options. Crepes, on the other hand, are thin wheat flour pancakes that are sweet. Usually served with fruits, you will find a multitude of options including chocolate, honey, and ice cream being used. The wonderful part is that they are served with cider. Traditionally, this is served in a porcelain cup.
While cider is regularly found at crêperies, you don’t usually find many different varieties. This is because the cider produced in Brittany is usually a style called farm cider and it is either dry, called Brut, or sweet, called Doux. Some will offer different bottles but generally you can get a cup, a pint, or a 750 ml bottle. It’s also interesting that most of the crêperies I visited carry one or maybe two brands of cider and they were locally made, meaning from a cidery within the region. While each cider had some unique characteristics, they were all generally low in acid and high in soft tannins. You may recall that soft tannins are those that are astringent versus bitter. The ciders had a nice amber color and sometimes a golden hue. Carbonation is generally low to medium. The aroma is often phenolic and apple and the ciders have medium to full bodied mouthfeel and a finish that is long and drying (astringent), which makes you want another sip. I could eat galettes with a cup of cider every night and never complain again.
Crêperies aren’t the only place you can find cider. The grocery stores contain great selections and that even includes the organic grocers. I picked up several local organic ciders to try. But, you don’t need to restrict yourself to restaurants and grocery stores, you can also go to the cideries. I made it to two farms cideries around Vannes and two cider distributors. Cider adventures can also offer a chance to try new apple varieties. Sometimes, they are good, and sometimes not. But, they are always fun to try. I was able to try 3 new varieties during this adventure: Dalinette, Pilot, and Chanteclerc. I also found an organic juice for the Guillevic apple that is often used to make a single variety cider.
Apples & Juice
Guillevic Apple Juice
Ultimately, there are some wonderful ciders to explore in Brittany and some wonderful history to experience. Where else can you walk the streets of a medieval walled city in the morning, walk among over 10,000 Neolithic standing stones in the afternoon, and eat a galette and cider while watching the ocean pound the beach in the evening. Here is some further eye candy to encourage you to book trip to Vannes for you own Cider Adventure! Have you been to Vannes? What was your favorite experience? Not made it to Vannes? What is your favorite cider adventure?
3 thoughts on “Cider Adventures: Brittany France”
I haven’t been on many cider adventures really but it sounds like your trip had plenty of variety with France and the West Country 🙂
I try to make every trip a cider adventure! I had some wonderful cider and the food, sites, and people were amazing.
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All sounds epic 🙂
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