France is known all over to the world to be home to some of the world’s best wine. From the Alsatian mountains to the Pyrenees, grapes grow all over the land and produce every year one of the most iconic and expensive beverages around. 

There is, however, a part of France markedly different from the rest : The North-West. From Brittany to Calais, the cold weather and rain coming off the North Sea and Northern Atlantic make for lush, rolling green fields that are well-watered. Grapes grow poorly here, never getting enough sun to properly mature and be turned into wine. This is cider country. 

While there is great debate over who makes the best and most authentic cider, the drink is very popular in the regions it is produced, being Brittany, Normandy, the Basque Country and the Calais region. Made from apples (and/or pears sometimes), cider is an alcoholic beverage similar in strength to beer (3-10 degrees). The region it’s made in and the apples it’s made from can greatly influence the taste but cider is generally a light and crisp drink with a strong apple flavour.

Some regions pick their apples from the ground, allowing them to start fermentation while still whole. They are then pressed and the resulting juice is allowed to ferment and clarify before being bottled. This applies to Normandy and Brittany, and leads to sweeter, bubblier ciders. In the Basque country however, apples are picked while still on the tree and pressed. The resulting juice is fermented and aged in barrels, much like wine, which leads to sharper, dry and flat ciders.