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La ferme des Martellières

Visit a traditional cider orchard and mill in the Andaine countryside

Located at Juvigny-Val-d’Andaine, the Ferme de Martellières is surrounded by 86 acres of orchards. Wanting to know more about how cider and Poiré de Domfront is made, we set out to meet the farm’s owners.

From the orchard to the press

When we arrive at the hamlet of Sept Forges we easily find Les Martellière, a typical Normandy farm dating from the early 20th century. It has a large steep roof and thick walls, the visible stones surrounded by elegant geraniums.

Valérie welcomes us at the entrance to the cider house with a big smile. As the weather is set fair, we are lucky to be able to start the tour with a walk around the orchard. Here we find several varieties of apple and pear trees, the fruits of which are harvested between September and October and then pressed to collect the juice.

Then, Valérie takes us inside the building to see the press and the vats. Once the fruit has been sorted, washed and dried, they are crushed complete with the skin and pips. The mash is then pressed to extract the juice which is placed in the vats and left to ferment. Normandy cider and perry are both made in the same way.

The still for making Calvados

Les Martellières farm specialises in making Calvados du Domfrontais, which has a protected designation of origin. Unlike traditional Calvados, this recipe includes pears.

Valérie explains that it must be distilled from a cider made with apples from the area around Domfront and at least 30 % perry pears.

Here we are in front of the column still that is used for distillation. This stage consists of separating the alcohol and water, which boil at different temperatures. The alcohol vapour is then liquefied to give a high alcohol content liquid: eau-de-vie.

Tasting in the aging house

We finish the tour in the ageing house where the Calvados is aged in oak, either in hogsheads or barrels. The eau-de-vie de calvados is aged for at least three years before being blended with other eaux-de-vies of different ages.

And now, for the tasting! The Ferme Les Martellières produces a wide range of drinks based on apples and pears such as cider, Poiré de Domfront perry, Pommeau de Normandie and Calvados du Domfrontais. We also discovered “Poirissimo” an aperitif that is exclusively made by the Ferme Les Martellières. We make the most of this tasting and buy several bottles from the farm shop.

Valérie tells us that the cider orchard and mill has been in the family for four generations. Today, there are six employees who work on the farm with Thierry Boisgontier and Richard Levêque. We will certainly go back to see them on the market in Bagnoles de l’Orne where Valérie sells there produce straight from the farm every Tuesday and Saturday.