If you say, “Pont-l’Évêque” to cheese lovers, many will immediately think of the strong-scented (pungent), soft cheese that is often considered to be one of the 5 stinkiest kinds of cheese in France. It’s my all-time least favourite cheese. It smells really bad and fortunately, doesn’t taste that way. But good news! Pont-l’Évêque may no longer have a negative association to the stinky cheese. There’s a new tourist attraction in the village—a multi-sensory experience devoted to Calvados apple brandy, which has a much nicer smell.
Pont-l’Évêque is in the heart of the Calvados department of Normandy and when I recently visited the area, I definitely got my apple fix at this new site called the “Calvados Experience”.
Multi-sensory experience devoted to Calvados: The Calvados Experience
France has a growing list of museums and attractions which focus on wine and spirits. Bordeaux has La Cité du Vin. Paris has Les Caves du Louvre. Each has interactive displays and a tasting at the end.
The Calvados Experience tour takes you on a multi-sensory journey, exposing you to the regions, history, and production of Calvados starting with the simple apple. Your journey is like a walk through movie sets where you learn about the times of the Vikings to the present day distillation. Four types of apples are used in the distillation: acidic, bitter, bittersweet and sweet.
One of my favourite experiences was walking on a pond of apples floating in the water:
At the end of the tour, there is a tasting bar. Your ticket includes a tasting of 2 glasses of Calvados brandy: one young (aged 2 years) and one old (aged 6 years). It’s an acquired taste and very powerful. There are hints of apple and not as pronounced as in the related apéritif called Pommeau.
I also paid an extra 4 Euros to sample 3 different types of Pommeau (which is made with 1 part Calvados and 2 parts apple juice):
- Fleurs de Pommes—young and fruity
- Pommeau—regular; dark and classic
- Crème (de Pommeau)—like Irish cream but with a stronger Calvados brandy flavour
The boutique carries a wide selection of Calvados French apple brandy and a small selection of Pommeau from a variety of local producers.
Cost: 12.5 Euros
- Excellent reviews on TripAdvisor
- Photography and videotaping are not allowed. Thank you to Calvados Experience for providing photos of the exhibits. (I paid my own admission fee).
- Children are welcome to take the tour. At the end, they are provided with apple juice.
- It is very difficult trying to find Pommeau outside of Normandy but easier to find Calvados. So, when in Normandy, stock up!
Address: Route de Trouville, 14130 Pont-l’Évêque