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.
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