Breton Cidre, canalside, Avricourt, France

I’m on a 22m long sea barge, cruisin’ eastwards on the canal towards Strasbourg, wit my crew.

After last night’s cidre, and some strange dreams, we’ve traversed another 10 locks, and several joggers have passed us by, on the canalside. As darkness looms, we’re obliged to moor somewhere and find a spot near the final canal lock of the day. A friendly Swiss couple refuse our request to moor alongside them as we’ll spoil their view. Cheeky bastards.

So we set up a barbecue on the canalside, upwind from the Swiss, and I find many damp twigs to burn and La Fauconnerie Bretoncreate as much smoke as possible. The fire is getting going. Good fire. Burn stuff. Men drink beer, poke fire with stick. Fun. Woman bring plate and condiment. Also good. Well, we not fucking caveman.

Out in the warm evening, we share the last bottle of cidre. After this 30km trip, my sailing days are over. Tomorrow I return to my landlubber ways, so to celebrate, we have a bottle of Breton Cidre. My beer and gin-loving hosts enjoyed the previous nght’s cidre, so this one has a lot to live up to. This 5.5% cidre by La Fauconnerie is an dark orange colour, lightly sparkling.

Rather than the brut is suggests on the bottle, this is rather a sweet cider. (I will later learn that French ciders are made by keeving, which retains the sweetness) The taste, like the colour, is rich and golden. A honey, nutty, dessert apple taste, my ciderkicks like this one the most, and agree with my honey-nut description, so I know I haven’t been eating too many Crunchy Nut cornflakes®. Very easy drinking. This is still a distinctly French cider, but if this is the dry, the medium must be like drinking a tin of syrup.

How very civilised it seems to sit with our folding boat furniture, discussing the subtleties of cidre tastes, as we soak up the smell of smoke. Tomorrow, smelling like a teenager at a festival,  I face a trip back home on a bicycle with little braking power, two miles across the French countryside, to a derelict train station to hope a train arrives to take me back to Nancy. I weigh up my chances of making it back at all, while we finish off the cider and chew on grilled halloumi. How very civillised. Those Swiss have missed out, here!

Verdict: 5/5

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