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Aug 26, 2010 07:08 PM

Alert: I am in need of a favor from anyone traveling to Bayeux

To whom it may concern;

There is a farmhouse outside of Bayeux where I bought a bottle of Calvados some time ago. I am now down to my last glass and I am in desperate need. I know precisely where the farm is but I am unable to contact the owner as he speaks no English. For anyone traveling there from the States, please help me procure another few bottles. If you are interested or able to help, I will happily furnish you with the requisite info and capital.

if you are unfamiliar with the area, I can also provide you with some favorite places in the area and meals that I enjoyed.

My sincere thanks!

E. Diamond

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  1. Why don't you send by email a very simple letter explaining that you want to order more bottles?
    Perhaps make up a simple itemized list of questions - maybe in French? - such as:
    Price per bottle:
    Number of bottles wanted:
    Transport cost:
    Customs tax:
    Estimated delivery time:

    Even if he does not speak English, the owner can surely find someone who can.

    5 Replies
    1. re: Parigi

      If I could find an email address I would. This is not a sophisticated shop, this is a farmer who has bottles for sale.

      1. re: Ernie Diamond

        Sounds better and better. -- Are you sure it's not the farmer's own, uh, moonshine?
        I have had some moonshine cidre made by my landlord of my Brittany rental. Since then I can't stand store-bought stuff. Is it something like that?

        1. re: Parigi

          No, it is Calvados, though the moonshine sounds intriguing.

          The farmer who sold it to me spoke zero english (as in ZERO). With my shattered French, I learned that he harvested his own apples and processed them in a government still that the revenue man brought by the farm each year. He aged each barrel about eight years before bottling. His product was a little fiery but I can honestly say that it had a much more compelling flavor and nose than store bought brands.

          I actually found the farm by going onto Google Maps and scanning satellite views of the road from Brittany to Normandy until I found the place. It's been a fun hunt but I need to close the loop by getting some bottles.

          1. re: Ernie Diamond

            "No, it is Calvados, though the moonshine sounds intriguing."

            I understand and understood. I meant your calvados sounded like a familyi secret kind of production, like my moonshine cidre. :D

            1. re: Parigi


              That I don't know. It seemed pretty official. He had boxes and everything. It made me thinnk that there was a government program that supplied the gear as a part of the local economy.

              I did find plenty of homebrew cidre, though. Nothing better than buying $2 champagne bottles of farmhouse cidre, still sticky from the bottling.

              Miss that.

    2. Wish I could help you out as we will be there at the end of September - but we are in Canada and on the West Coast.

      Guess you can't share the location so we can go there and try it for ourselves? :-)

      17 Replies
      1. re: parisdreamer

        I am glad to share the location. It is a farm on the left side of the road as you head south on the D6 Motorway from Bayeux, exactly three miles from where the D6 and the N13/E46 intersect.

        God bless Google Maps. If you go online, you can trace the exact route via satellite. Overhead, look for the apple trees dotting the road in neat patterns. The farmhouse is on the southern edge of the orchard along the road.

        If you do end up going, I would really appreciate you getting me some info on how to get his bottles sent to me in the states.

        As far as dining in Bayeux, I highly recommend the Tripes a la mode du Caen at Le Pommier and the Andouillettes du Troyes at La Fringale. Both places are lots of fun. I prefer Fringale as the atmosphere and food is a bit more rustic but you can't go wrong with either.

        1. re: Ernie Diamond

          E.D., try using Google street view to see the farm if its on D6 south of Bayeux. Just drag the little yellow man from the map slider to the location.

          1. re: BlueOx

            Thanks BlueOx. That's how I found the farm in the first place.

          2. re: Ernie Diamond

            I am not sure if I have located the right place...does the sign say "Vente de Vieux Calvados A.O.C"? at the entrance?

            I would be happy to find out about getting his bottles if we go through that area (which I don't see why we wouldn't) and if I can figure out how to say all that in French! (will use Google translate for that!)

            We are staying in Litteau which is more South West of Bayeaux - but if you say this stuff is good we will definately make the short detour there!
            Thanks for the tips on dining in Bayeux area there isn't too much out there on Chow so any additional reccomendations will help.

            1. re: parisdreamer

              That's the one!

              Half the reason that I thought it was so fun was because I went in on a total whim and was just thrilled by the adventure of it. The farmer spoke no english, there was no pretense and the courtyard of the estate looks like a disaster area. Going inside a ruined chateau to buy farmhouse liquor is a rare treat for an American and I loved every minute of it. If I spoke better french, I would have asked him if I could spend the day working on the farm. You actually could be there during the harvest, which would be very interesting.

              I will not say that this is the best calvados you will ever have as I am certainly no expert but I know more about it than the average slob and I really liked it. If you have half as much fun as I did both in the purchasing and in the later storytelling, I think you will be satisfied.

              As far as dining, most of what I did was in Bayeux. There is a place there called La Table du Terroir that is meant to be excellent. I did not have a chance to try it. I think that if you did any of those three in Bayeux, you will get a good chance to try Norman cuisine.

              Bayeux is a medieval town and very well preserved. there is a great charcutier in town, the Bayeux tapestry and lots of French cider on offer. Well worth a day trip, I think.

              1. re: Ernie Diamond


                Just returned from our trip and unfortunately we never got a chance to head to the Calvados farm. Sorry I wish I could have helped. We ended up just buying some at a local store in Bayeaux as it was convenient. I bought some Pommeau and my husband some 25 year old Calvados.

                1. re: parisdreamer

                  Not a worry! I am glad to get a reply either way. It would have been a stretch to expect that you would make it to the place with so much to see and do.

                  Did you enjoy your trip? Pommeau is a real treat. I wish it was easier to find in the states (along with Calvados).

                  Did you enjoy Bayeaux? Any memorable meals?

                  1. re: Ernie Diamond

                    We had a great time and Normandy was lovely. Would love to go back there in the summer with our kids one year and enjoy some of the beaches.

                    Unfortunately we didn't get to spend too much time in Bayeaux as we did 2 days of D-Day beach tours and our 3rd day we drove to Mont Saint Michel.

                    We ate in a restaurant in Bayeaux once - called the Drakkar - just a quick dinner of Moules and Frites - which were fabulous.

            2. re: Ernie Diamond

              Okay, so I'm headed to Bayeux for an overnight en route to Mt. St. Michel, and one of the things on our agenda is to track down Calvados. I'd be happy to locate "your" place (and when I say happy, I mean, hooray! a lead!), unfortunately, our return luggage will be filled with our OWN calvados and eau de vie. Perhaps I can give the proprietor your email (or street) address so that you can arrange a shipment? Open to ideas, and sympathetic to your plight.

              1. re: deniseds

                WOAH! YES! I would love you to get my email or other info to him. As far as ideas, I can't say that I have many. I wasn't there long and his grasp on the world beyong the four walls of his chateau seemed pretty thin.

                What do you think? Want my email or how should we proceed? Might it be easier to get his? I'm not sure the best way to move on this.

                Now, I will say two things;
                1. the farm is not far from Bayeux, as I recall. I expect that you will find plenty of interesting things to see along the way as the route seemed peppered with farms, etc.
                2. Calvados is not hard to find in Normandy. If your goal is to find it, you will find it in spades. Do not make special arrangements to find this farm under the impression that this is the (or the only) place to go for Calvados. It just happens to be a place where I had an immensely enjoyable experience and got to buy calvados off the beaten path (metaphorically speaking, as the main road is quite busy).

                Hope this helps. Let me know if you want my email.

                1. re: Ernie Diamond

                  We love a good treasure hunt, especially in the pursuit of food and drink. Plus I'd rather buy my calvados from a farmer than some random grocery store. We really will be driving right by, en route to Brittany, so while I can't promise anything, I'd be happy to look for the place and act as emissary.

                  Post your email address here or, if you want to be a bit more discrete, go to my (currently defunct but probably temporarily reactivated from France in April) blog, and post it in the comments. I'll pull it down after I grab it.

                  And if he / they have an email, I'll try to get that too. But my French? Even less effective than yours, from the sounds of it.

                  So to clarify, I'm looking for "Vente de Vieux Calvados A.O.C.," on D6, 3 miles south of the D6/E46-N13 intersection, about 5.5 miles south of central Bayeux, on the left if heading south. Oui? Tres bien. Look forward to following the thread and seeing what we can do to reunite you with a bottle. We journey out mid-April.

                  1. re: deniseds

                    It's been fun to follow this thread -- and all the more so now after a detour to read a number of posts in deniseds's bolg.

                    1. re: Jake Dear

                      Nice, Jake, thanks! I hope you made it down to the Provence posts...the earliest notes and the reason I started the blog (for friends to track my meals and movements). I'll be sure to review your blog for my week in Paris preceding the week in Normandy/Brittany...though I already have way too many places bookmarked to eat. Oof! (BTW? I used to live in SA, out Butterfield Road. Small world.)

                    2. re: deniseds

                      Mais oui.

                      Entered a comment. I included my email address when registering but not in the comments. If you can't see it, let me know.

                      If you go onto Google Maps you can get a shot of the me and maybe we can strategerize a little. If I get savvy, I may even be able to pull the pics of the place from the road and from above off Google.

                      And with Jake's comment in mind, think of how fun it will be to report after on how the loop was closed on this!

                      1. re: Ernie Diamond

                        Hello deniseds and Ernie Diamond (and others),
                        deniseds, I just posted on your blog. Small world indeed. I'd love to hear about a "closed loop" on this. We may get there yet (although not this year -- heading back to Burgundy & Alsace instead). In the meantime, I will be content with the less great Calvados that we brought back from Les Andelys & Honfleur last year. And deniseds, if you want a Paris blog to give you even more choices and great writeups, I suggest you look at John Talbot's, if you've not see it yet . . . .

                        1. re: Jake Dear

                          Jake et al,

                          The loop has been closed! Deniseds and I got in touch offline and I hope she is able to tell the story about how she was able to track down the very farm to find the very bottle I was looking for!

                          I am clearly biased but I think this is a very cool connection. I'm sure Deniseds' story of her trip will make it easier for others to have similar experiences in Normandy.

                          1. re: Ernie Diamond

                            Ernie, good news! And we all hope to hear the story, deniseds. -- Jake

            3. Mission accomplished.....almost....knock on wood. Our little liquid traveler has one last leg to complete, from Oregon to Ohio, before she rests in the hands of her beloved papa. I've posted the whole story and some pictures here, thanks to everyone for their support. Ernie, we await news of her safe arrival with baited breath!

              P.S. As I understand it, they produce just 150 bottles a year, they have no internet, and the idea of shipping it to the States is as foreign as flying to Mars. However, their name is on the label, as is the name of the village, so a snail mail letter translated by a French speaker isn't out of the question, as this bottle comes to a close. I can foresee a post from myself in a few months, that goes something like, "I am in need of a favor from anyone traveling to Bayeaux....."

              5 Replies
              1. re: denisedsPDX

                deniseds -- good news about "our little liquid traveler," and I love the blog post -- so well described, I think you really captured the quest.

                I bet I'm not the only one to save this thread for a future excursion to Normandy.

                But I'm also thinking: The story this tells -- about meeting the producers at the source -- can be the experience in so much of la belle France for so many products (foie gras, local escargot, small production wines, etc.). This is one reason why we so enjoy traveling in the countryside. -- Jake

                1. re: denisedsPDX

                  If you spell Bayeux correctly, many French "internautes" searching under Bayeux can find your story and enjoy it too.
                  -- How about sending a copy of your story to the office du tourisme of Bayeux ?

                  1. re: Parigi

                    Damn, I swear that errant "a" sneaks in every time I type Bayeux. (Not to mention "baited" rather than bated breath. Reminds me of my overly funky andouillette at Christophe...some were funkier than others.) It seems crazy but I can't find a way to edit my comment to correct it; if anyone knows how, give a shout. And thanks for the tourism idea...maybe I will!

                    1. re: denisedsPDX

                      One step ahead of you. It was a fine suggestion so I sent a quick email off to the dept of tourism explaining how a love of French culture and cuisine brough two strangers together from 2,300 miles away. If it goes anywhere, I will let you know!

                  2. re: denisedsPDX

                    I can't stop smiling as I read this!

                    Pictures forthcoming. Bottle is scheduled to arrive Monday.

                  3. It. Has. Arrived.

                    Tasting and pics forthcoming! Please be patient and thanks again, Denise!!