La Cidrerie

When I heard about La Cidrerie, I knew I wanted to go there. I like beer, but I don’t have the same capacity for it as locals do; young people in Paris seem to have no trouble polishing off those pint-plus giant glasses of beer that have become ubiquitous on café tables. Cider hasn’t gotten the same attention that beer, wine, and other French beverages have gotten, but that’s changing.

Benoît Marinos is changing that in Paris with La Cidrerie. And you won’t find a better selection of French sparkling ciders anywhere else in Paris, or France. Or maybe the world.

Being from Brittany, Benoît had a strong affinity for cider, where it’s traditionally enjoyed with crêpes and galettes, often in bowls. Neighboring Normandy also has a strong cider culture. But it’s considered more of a novelty than something that can be truly well-made. (Many hard ciders are mass-produced, which inhibits the better ones from being taken seriously.) Elsewhere, such as in England, and even in Brooklyn, fermented “hard” (alcoholic) apple ciders are getting the respect, and attention, they deserve.

Dismayed that cider wasn’t getting the same consideration that other drinks get in his native country, Benoît spent some time at a school for cidricoles in Normandy, learning as much as he could about cider. He returned to Paris, and opened a bar dedicated to cider by the Canal Saint-Martin.  And it’s become one of my favorite places to drink in the city.

We had an especially warm welcome the first time I went to La Cidrerie. I discovered it when my friend Jennifer and I were trying to decide where to meet up for drinks one night. Since she’d live in Normandy, close to a lot of cider producers, I thought it’d be fun to check it out the cider place I was following on Instagram.

While it’s tempting to sit at a table outside, writing a book on French drinks, if possible, I prefer to sit at the bar or hang out at the café counter. And when I saw the line-up of spigots behind the bar, I knew I’d made the right decision.

I’ve made a lot of new friends that way, and learned a lot. This time, my education was in les cidres.

There are several ciders on tap, and not all come from France. And if you think you know what French (and other) ciders taste like, you’ll be surprised. The cider from Ruwet (above) comes from Belgium and is nearly transparent. I think it was my favorite. La Taloche from Normandy is made with hops, which gave it a surprising THC-like aroma, and flavor. I thought I was imagining it, but Benoît confirmed I wasn’t stoned; the flavors are similar.

Others, like Aspall from England are made with champagne yeast (in addition to the natural fermentation that occurs with the apples), and like other ciders from the UK, they have a higher percentage of alcohol than their French counterparts. Some ciders are unfiltered, like Kupela from the Basque region reminded me of wandering around San Sebastian, eating pintxos (tapas) and drinking cider poured into glasses from high overhead, by the bartenders.

Want to taste several, without springing for four full-size glasses of cider? Let them set up a dégustation (tasting) of any four ciders that you choose, that are on tap (pression).

One surprise for me was the Cidre rosé, a naturally red cider made from a type of apple similar to a medlar, that turns a rosy red color. He’s got a French cider that’s made with some beet juice, but said the flavors can be rather sauvage (wild), and indeed, some of the ciders have a similar funk to natural wines, that can taste barnyardy.

I also tried a pear cider from Ferme de l’Yonniere that had that lovely flavor of fall pears, and I bought home a bottle of cider from the Cidrerie du Vulcain made from pears, apples, and quince, because I can’t resist anything with quince in it.

I’m not sure how Benoît managed to collect, and offer, so many types and variations of cider, but it’s amazing he did.

There’s a menu of bar snacks, riffing off classic flavors of Brittany. He’s launching a new menu this fall, but the buckwheat croquettes I had from the menu when I was there were intriguing enough to make me want to go back. If you want to bring a bottle home, most of them are available à emporter, to take home.

La Cidrerie
51, quai de Valmy (10th)
M: République or Goncourt
Tél: 01 71 97 12 45

A great cider bar in Paris, with hundred to try!

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28 comments

  • sillygirl
    September 5, 2019 3:59pm

    We aren’t beer drinkers at all but love cidre – in particular with a buckwheat crepe!

  • Georges Gohier
    September 5, 2019 4:06pm

    Mustn’t forget the ciders that come from Québec, la belle province.

    • September 5, 2019 9:11pm
      David Lebovitz

      The ciders they carry come from countries in the EU, the UK, and Switzerland. I think it’s too expensive to import ciders from North America as I haven’t seen any in France.

  • Wendi Abeberry
    September 5, 2019 5:13pm

    When you are ready to try some Basque Cider please let me be your guide! Come stay in Biarritz and we’ll venture into the Spanish Basque Country, the villages and foothills around San Sebastian will be our hunting grounds. It’s a different kind of Cider, definitely worth trying and comparing!

    • Carol S. Guess
      September 5, 2019 5:32pm

      Yes !
      We are coming to Bilbao, San Sebastián, and St. Jean de Luz in October. Would love to meet and learn more about cider !

    • Geraldine Toltschin
      September 5, 2019 5:52pm

      I live in Canet de Mar Barcelona. Could you tell me the best brand to purchase. Surely I could find it in Barcelona. THANKS.

  • Shoelvr
    September 5, 2019 5:13pm

    Not being a beer drinker, I am thrilled that here in the U.S. craft cideries are now making a big showing. I’ve discovered a local one, in Iowa, made with watermelon. I cannot say how much I love it. Tart, a teeny bit sweet, a beautiful pink color, and so refreshing..what’s not to love?

    • ron shapley
      September 5, 2019 5:50pm

      where in Iowa ?? Im in Davenport…

      • Shoelvr
        September 5, 2019 5:57pm

        It’s called First Crush by Fishback & Stephenson. All of their ciders are great! Hy-Vees carry them. They are out of Glenwood over by Omaha, but it should be available near you.

        • ronald shapley
          September 5, 2019 5:59pm

          thanks…..going to Hyvee now

    • Cartrie
      September 6, 2019 4:28am

      We are driving through Iowa as I write this! What’s the name of the watermelon cider? I may ask around to try it!

      • Shoelvr
        September 6, 2019 4:35am

        It is First Crush watermelon cider made by Fishback & Stephenson.

    • September 6, 2019 4:40am

      I’m excited you mentioned it! The watermelon aspect sounds very intriguing. I’m heading to Hy-Vee too!

  • Gayle
    September 5, 2019 5:24pm

    Interestingly, this past weekend, I bought apple cider and pear cider.

    I’m going to braise short ribs in cider.

    I’m lucky in that there is a lively hard cider resurgence here in New England, using heirloom apples. There is some excellent hard cider to be had.

    Thanks for this post. I’ll be sure to visit in November.

    • Alene
      September 6, 2019 2:54am

      And it’s often gluten free! Beer is off limits to me now. I live in a Florida wasteland, but it sure would be nice to drink some hard cider.

    • june2
      September 7, 2019 3:53am

      Same here, in Olympia WA.

  • Adrienne
    September 5, 2019 7:30pm

    After a trip to Normandy I fell in love with their cidre. It’s low in alcohol and has the funk that comes from the natural yeasts found on the apples. Unlike American ciders that are crisp and higher in alcohol, the French cidres are easy to drink because of the lower alcohol content ( the entire bottle sometimes!).
    Unfortunately it is hard to find cidres from Normandy. Whole Foods and Draeger’s carry one or two labels.
    Thanks for sharing La Cidrerie with us!

  • Joyce Sasse
    September 5, 2019 7:47pm

    Are there any offerings of non alcoholic cidre?

    • September 5, 2019 9:08pm
      David Lebovitz

      I don’t know if there are any non-alcoholic sparkling ciders. You don’t usually see them in France (in fact, I don’t think I’ve ever seen one…) but they do have apple and pear juice.

      • Lily
        September 6, 2019 4:26am

        In the US we have the non alcoholic ubiquitous Martinelli sparkling cider that shows up in grocery stores around the holidays.

    • Mary Britton
      September 6, 2019 2:17am

      That may be an oxymoron! Cidre is formed when the yeasts develop. This in turn forms alcohol. That’s what makes the fizz. Non alcoholic cider is cider. but if you leave it in the fridge for a few weeks it will get a bit fizzy with time, and probably be low alcohol. Or perhaps the ferment will be sour. Might depend on the apple.

  • September 5, 2019 7:51pm

    Thank you for sharing!

  • September 5, 2019 8:14pm

    Now on my list! Thank you for sharing this. Now if I could only find a place (besides Pomme–great restaurant near Galeries Lafayette) that serves Pommeau! I have to keep returning to Normandy to get some!

  • Jeanne Boin
    September 5, 2019 8:39pm

    I’ve been a fan of le cidre for many years since first tasting it from a bowl in Bretagne while eating une galette! Since then, I’ve been finding more and more ciders here in the US. There’s a cidrerie here in San Jose, CA and even one in Anchorage, AK! The love is spreading!

  • Barbara
    September 5, 2019 9:05pm

    Hard cider is currently being made in a number of places in the US. Try Farnum Hill ciders at Poverty Lane Orchards in Lebanon, NH.

  • Jennypennyny
    September 5, 2019 10:57pm

    So happy for your post! We love cider and can’t wait to try this spot when we’re back in Paris in Nov. We’ve had some of the choices at Breizh Cafe and they’re a bit sweet for me. Trying to find a French cider similar to the fantastic sour (low sugar) ciders in NY, like Kings Highway, Graft and Nine Pin (Nine Pin Ginger is amazing). Wolffer Rose’ Cider from LI is also wonderful.

  • Nina
    September 6, 2019 2:38am

    JK Scrumpy from Michigan.
    A huge favorite. Sometimes available at Whole Foods.

  • Keyan Kaplan
    September 9, 2019 2:56pm

    David,
    Do you know where I can buy quinces in NYS? I’m on LI and my quince tree is no more! So many ciders around now, yay!!!
    Thanks,
    Keyan