France’s Brittany (or Bretagne) region is known for producing some of the world’s best apple spirits and accounts for around 40 percent of France’s total production of cider. By applying the age old farming methods utilized in French vineyards to their apple orchards, these ‘artisanal’ cider producers utilize single-varietal or multiple varieties of sweet, tart and bitter apples (and sometimes pears) to create the finest taste. The terroir or characteristics of the land, such as soil, orientation, tree age and varietal are considered just as important to cider as they are to wine. Apples are hand-harvested, and hand sorted with ultimate care taken in each stage of the cider making process to get the most of the apple and its terroir.
And the options to imbibe are many: Cidre Doux is a sweet cider, usually up to 3% in strength and often referred to as Cider beer. “Demi-Sec” is 3-5% and Cidre Brue is a strong dry cider of 5% alcohol and above. Most fine French ciders, unlike in the USA are sparkling and sold in champagne-style bottles (Cidre bouché).
Eau de vie de cidre or Calvados in common usage is an apple brandy, adistilled cider from specially grown and selected apples stored in oaken barrels for a minimum of two years. The longer it ages (up to 35 years in some cases) the smoother the drink becomes. French Calvados is a work of art and subject to tight regulations with the mark of appellation AOC (appellation d’origine contrôlée) for the finest process.
In Brittany, cider is traditionally served in local crêperies in ceramic bowls (or wide cups) known as a boléerather than glasses. An ice-cold Breton cider is also the perfect accompaniment to the regions’ signature dish: the seafood platter, piled high with pink lobster, king prawn, silver oysters, scallops and clams.
Partake on one of these popular tours in Brittany:
On this self-guided cycling tour, you’ll travel the spectacular Emerald Coast with its pink granite cliffs and turquoise seas, wonderful white beaches and deserted little coves. Throughout your trip, the family-run inns include a lovely C16 manor house and a modern *** riverside hotel, with pool, on the banks of the Rance. In Dinard, you’ll stay in beautiful sea-view rooms which look out over the idyllic expanse of blue sea to the old port town of St Malo.
The walks you’ll enjoy on this self-guided tour are simply stunning, with dramatic scenery, a wealth of colors and a multitude of medieval influences. You’ll really experience the very best the Breton coast has to offer. Walking along the magnificent paths that hug the northern coast, you’ll then head inland along the banks of the River Rance and on through the majestic Hunaudaye Forest. Highlights include the feudal Fort de la Latte and the beautiful stone-crafted town of Dinan.
Things are starting to look like winter will never end! Perhaps you should be thinking of following the sun and escaping to the year round sunshine of the French Riviera or Italy’s fabulous Amalfi Coast!
Undiscovered French Riviera Walk – we’re offering 10% off the May 30th departure. Read the tour description here.
Amalfi Coast Walk – 10% off the May 18th departure. Read the tour description here
President Obama’s sudden announcement of normalization of diplomatic relations with Cuba caught everyone by surprise. Although the initial reports seemed to indicate that travel restrictions would be relaxed as well, the actual regulations on travel haven’t changed too much. It’s still illegal for Americans to visit Cuba for tourist activities and only allowed if you fit into one of the 12 authorized categories of travel. Among these are family visits, educational activities, journalistic activity, support for the Cuban people and humanitarian projects.
We’ve had numerous inquires from U.S. citizens interested in traveling to Cuba. The government still must issue a license to tour operators based on fulfillment of the educational or support for Cuban people category. So, until we have an accredited cultural or educational program, no dice.
As an individual, it gets a bit fuzzy. You don’t need to apply for a specific license to travel but you’ll still need to fit into one of these categories and have a full time schedule of educational exchange activities or etc (technically no free time or lounging on the beach allowed!). But, it’s unclear who will be checking on this.
We’re very keen on offering Cuba as a destination in the near future. Stay tuned for more info.