Calvados is a department in lower Normandy (Basse-Normandie) and it’s also a brandy produced in the area. Calvados is one of the most popular tourist areas in France thanks to its well-known and prestigious seaside resorts, it’s lovely fertile countryside, castles, historic association with William the Conqueror and much more.
Things to do in Calvados
See the stunning Bayeux Tapestry at the Bayeux Museum
Have a coffee, glass of wine or enjoy a meal in Honfleur. A beautiful and famously picturesque old harbour which has inspired artists through the centuries with its wonderful slate covered houses and gorgeous harbour.
Visit the castle of Falaise, William the Conqueror, Duke of Normandy and King of England was born there and this medieval palace exudes history.
Have a tasting session on the Calvados cider route – producers in the region with a “Cru de Cambremer” signpost will welcome you to their cellars. Check with local tourist offices for more details or see the helpful website information at the bottom of this article.
Go horse racing at Deauville, Caen or Cabourg – Calvados is famous for its horse breeding.
Sample some of the wonderful local produce from cheese to fish. There are fish markets galore in the region and some of the best fishing ports in France.
Enjoy a day on one of the stunning beaches or participate in watersports at seaside resorts such as Merville-Franceville-Plage or Cabourg.
Visit the Juno Beach Centre, a museum located in Courseulles-sur-Mer situated behind the beach codenamed Juno, on which 14,000 Canadian troops landed on D-Day 6 June 1944.
Visit Caen – the capital of lower Normandy (Basse-Normandie) – and enjoy the spectacular Norman architecture and a visit to the moving Caen Memorial Museum.
What is Calvados?
Apples have been grown in the department of Calvados in Normandy for many centuries – as far back as the 8th Century and the time of Charlemagne, King of the Franks and Emperor of Rome. Cider (cidre) has been produced in the region since the mid 16th Century and the “eau de vie de cidre” known as Calvados, an apple brandy drink was being produced prior to the French Revolution. It gained its officially protected name in 1942 and is distilled from apples that are specifically grown and selected for its production – as many as 200 different varieties are believed to be awarded the special status required to produce calvados apple brandy.
The Savoy hotel in London is known to have had a bar tender who created the “Calvados Cocktail”, it is also used in many French dishes and as an aperitif or between courses palate cleanser.
How to get to Calvados
By ferry to Caen/Ouistreham-Portsmouth
By Train Paris, St Lazare station to Caen
Paris Montparnasse Station to Vire
By plane – Caen-Carpiquet and Deauville-Saint Gatien
Useful tourist websites: calvados-tourisme.com and see our section on Normandy for more information and things to do in this lovely region.