NORMANDY CIDER TOUR OF FRANCE

Eight days, Seven nights | one DEPARTURE A YEAR
• May 8-15, 2020

Cider Tour of Normandy
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The rich tapestry of life comes together on this tour that spotlights cider, scenery and history. Welcome to the majestic landscape, half-timbered houses and unique culture of Normandy, France, where we’ll indulge in this famous cider-producing region. No need to be a cider expert to take this tour. We’ll start with the basics of cider, its history and importance in the region. Then explore other enjoyable beverages made with luscious apples, such as “the finest destination of the apple,” Calvados (apple brandy).  In between is Pommeau, a gentle marriage between Calvados and freshly pressed tannin-rich apple juice, which delivers power and sweetness all at once. A good example of the cider producers we’ll visit is the family-owned Domaine Dupont.  As you can see, many pleasures and delights lie ahead for the travelers on this tour.


Why Normandy?

Normandy, with its fertile soil and temperate climate, has a proud tradition of cider dating to the 13th century, when the apple press was invented and at first was the drink of farmers. After a mini-ice age adversely affected the wine growing regions of Western Europe, nobles got in the game and started producing cider. Flash forward to the 1880s when a natural outbreak of vine predators set back the wine industry and boosted the popularity of cider. When wine recovered, politics and laws intended to suppress cider arose, but cider continued to hang on in some form especially in Normandy. Thanks to the diligence, persistence and pride of cider producers in this region, you will be able to enjoy their efforts fresh at the source today.

This tour, however, will introduce you to more than cider. In addition to famous wine, you may be surprised to know that France has a blossoming craft beer scene, too. We’ll have opportunities to enjoy some of these beers along the way.

We will also dedicate an entire day to explore the WWII history of Normandy, and the D-Day 75th anniversary of Operation Overlord, where Allies launched the major offensive that changed the history of the planet. We’ll take a guided tour of some of the famous locations such as Omaha and Utah Beach, Sainte Mère Eglise (the first village liberated by the U.S.)  and the Normandy American Cemetery & Memorial near Colleville-sur-Mer. It will be a fascinating, riveting and emotional day as we pay tribute to the men and women, who fought and died freeing the world of Nazi tyranny.

A visit and overnight within eyesight of Mont Saint-Michel will be one of the centerpieces of this tour. It’s ever-changing light and endless photo opportunities is good reason to see it in the evening and morning. You’ve seen the striking images of this medieval monastery set on a small rocky island connected by a causeway off the coast of France, now you will get to see it with your own eyes. As we approach, it reveals itself in the distance like an impossible castle on the horizon. You will never forget the first time you see it from miles away. It looks like a giant and is so out of scale to the landscape that your logic tells you it cannot be real.

We’ll also visit the scenic and famous enchanting fishing village of Honfleur. It’s so cute, you’ll just want to break out a palette, look across the harbor and start painting, or find a romantic sidewalk cafe, enjoy some cider, wine or beer and people watch.

We’ll overnight in three locations: Honfleur, Mont Saint-Michel and Caen. The tour will begin Tubize, Belgium, (near Brussels) and end in Caen France, where you will be able to catch a train to Paris or the Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport. Alternately, you could begin the tour in Honfleur if your plans call to already be in France prior to the tour.

“Cider is an ideal option for the would-be beer drinker, who cannot have gluten.”
—Stu Stuart
“...cider takes us back to an earlier, simpler time. It reconnects us with the land and the cycle of the seasons...that’s why cider’s popularity is booming around the globe.”
— --Pete Brown & Bill Bradshaw, authors of World’s Best Ciders.

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TOURS INCLUDE

  • Sven nights accommodations in nice, friendly, centrally-located hotels often in the old town section of the city.

  • All breakfasts, two lunches and three dinners with gratuities.

  • Ground transportation via private luxury coach with professional driver. Leave the driving to us!

  • Professional and courteous BBM! guide services.

  • All tours and admissions.

  • An instant group of interesting and fun, cider and beer-loving friends you haven’t met yet.

  • Guaranteed tour price the moment you submit your deposit.

  • Plenty of unstructured free time to relax, shop and explore on your own.

  • Custom BBM! name badges.

  • Souvenir BBM! luggage tags.

  • One souvenir BBM! soft-sided cooler per household.

  • Flexibility in the event you need to transfer or cancel your tour.

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NOT INCLUDED

  • Airfare

  • Airport transfers.

  • Some meals, cider, beer and drinks on your own.

  • Free-time sightseeing. Our guides are available to provide suggestions.

  • Fine Print: You are responsible for the costs of your free-time sightseeing. Be sure to read our Terms & Conditions

  • Agreement for important details.

  • Gratuities, at your discretion, for cider producers tour guides and coach drivers.

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TOUR COST

Deadline to sign up is one month before departure.
$2795/per person + Air, $645 single supplement*

* Prices based on double room occupancy.  If you are a solo traveler and would like to have a private room all to yourself there is a single supplement fee of $645 in addition to the base price of $2795 per person. We can also work with you to pair you with other single travelers to avoid the single supplement. Better yet, recruit a friend to come, too! Unless, of course, like Rick Steves says, you prefer to “snore alone.”

We require a minimum number of travelers for a tour to be confirmed to go, so it’s important to sign up ASAP, as opposed to waiting until the deadline. Also, tours can fill suddenly, so signing up early guarantees your place and avoids disappointment.

PLEASE SHARE BBM! TOURS WITH YOUR CIDER ENTHUSIAST
FRIENDS AND ENCOURAGE THEM TO JOIN THE FUN!

MAP OF OVERNIGHT LOCATIONS

CIDER TOUR OF NORMANDY ITINERARY • 2019. 2020 Itinerary to come and will be two nights longer.

Day One, Mon., May 6 • Honfleur  This tour begins in Honfleur in the afternoon, but there will be be an option for it to begin at 8:30 a.m. in the lobby of our hotel in Antwerp. The reason this tour begins here is a number of travelers from the Best Damn Farmhouse Ale Tour of Belgium & France are also taking the Cider Tour and since the Farmhouse Tour ends in Antwerp, so it seemed a likely place to start the tour. Also for people beginning the Cider Tour, it affords them some days in Belgium on their own to enjoy some Belgian beer and adjust to the time change before the beginning of the tour. Travelers are encouraged to fly open jaw (as opposed to round trip) into Brussels and out of Paris. After a brief meet and greet, we board our ground transportation for the picturesque harbor town of Honfleur, where you’ll have time to unwind and explore before we have our welcome dinner this evening. Welcome to France! (Dinner #1)

Day Two, Tues., May 7 • Mont Saint-Michel  Morning is free to enjoy beautiful Honfleur. Late morning we’ll depart for Deauville on the coast, where we’ll visit the famous Hotel Le Normandy and enjoy a company lunch in its fine La Belle Epoque restaurant. Afterward, you’ll have some free time to shop, walk along the famous boardwalk “Les Planches,” or just hold up in a sidewalk cafe and enjoy some cider or wine. In the afternoon we continue on to the majesty of Mont Saint-Michel, get checked into our hotel, then walk the causeway on to the island. We’ll get some great pictures with the late afternoon sun as the shadows begin to fall. We’ll enjoy a company dinner at MSM. (Lunch # 1 & Dinner #2)

Day Three, Wed., May 8 • Caen This morning we’ll take in the dawn’s early light on Mont St. Michel and enjoy one more visit, where you’ll have time to explore, shop and eat more in depth. Lunch is on your own. Afterward, we’ll depart for Caen, our home for the final three nights of the tour. On the way we’ll take our first crack at the famous Normandy Cider Route in the heart of the Pays d Auge for tours and tastings.  Afterward we’ll check into our centrally-located hotel. Evening and dinner are on your own in historic Caen.

Day Four, Thur., May 9 • Caen After breakfast we depart for a full day on the Cider Route. We’ll start with a tour and tasting at Domaine Dupont, one of the more striking cider producers in the region. Afterward we’ll have a company picnic lunch with cider in a bucolic country setting on the Cider Route. (Lunch # 2)

Day Five, Fri., May 10 • Caen Today we’ll take a guided battlefield tour of the beaches of Normandy. We’ll learn about the history of the battles that took place and the sacrifices that were made 75 years ago. Lunch is on your own. Upon our return to Caen, you’ll have some time to freshen up and relax before our Farewell Dinner. (Dinner #3)

Day Six, Sat., May 11 • Caen  Breakfast concludes our grand tour and we say our goodbyes to our new cider friends and figure out how to carefully pack the dozens of bottles of fine French cider, Pommeau and Calvados you have somehow amassed.  Caen has a major railway station, where you can board a train to Paris (About 2 hours 15 min.) or most anywhere in Europe. The train from Caen to Charles de Gaulle Airport  (CDG) is at least 3 ½ hours.  Most people will want to complement this tour by enjoying some days on their own in Paris before departing (CDG). (Breakfast)

“...We both want to thank you again for doing such a good job putting this tour together and leading it. Insuring that everything runs smoothly and looks effortless takes a tremendous amount of work and a diverse skill set and you did an extraordinary job putting everything together. In the past Anne and I have always put our own trips together, and we were a little nervous about what it would be like to do a group tour. However, our fears turned out to be completely unfounded and we both agree that there is no way we could have come close to duplicating your tour on our own. We are already talking about what our next tour should be.”
— John & Anne from Boston