Niche travel


When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. Well, life has given the French region of Perche, in lower Normandy, oodles of apples, so it’s no surprise to find their entire tourism drive at this time of year revolves around them – and cider is just the half of it.

First off, they’re encouraging people to visit the 400,000-acre Perche Regional Nature Park, filled with fairytale forests and through which you go on a tour of apple orchards to watch fruits being pressed and stored in oak barrels, awaiting fermentation.

After that, it’s off to Spa Pom which uses apple products to revitalise and reinvigorate the skin.

Stay over at the Domaine de Villeray next door, a chateau and mill in the heart of apple country where a Gourmet Escape costs from €240 a night including one night’s half board, and two “appletising” spa treatments.

Then, for some light relief, take an autumnal tour of the forest in a carriage drawn by traditional Percheron horses, a giant white breed that has been used to pull the apple harvests home for donkeys years. A day’s tour deep into the forest, with a guide, costs €30 per person.

Or just hop in the car and visit one of the cider fairs held in the region at this time of year, making sure to try local delicacies such as mulled cider and hot apple soup, as well as, of course, regular cider, calvados, apple juice, apple jams, cider vinegar, apple crepes . . . the list goes on.

It’s a tasty theme to hang a holiday on. Indeed, all we need to do here is devise a similar venture, devoted to our own native crop – les pommes de terres.