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Want to buy Calvados in/near Bayeux. Which one? How many? Landing in Atlanta and then Seattle.

I will be in Bayeux next month and after reading about Calvados, I want to try and buy some bottles to take back home.

I have never had Calvados, so can anyone recommend a place, places or Brand, in or near Bayeux, to buy very good Calvados?

If I like what I try, I would like to buy several (10-14) bottles for home in the USA, but I am unsure how many bottles I can legally bring back to the USA. I am traveling with carry on luggage, But I can check 2 bags (weighing 60 or 70 lbs) for free, so I could buy up to 2 hard shell suitcases (if needed) for my return trip and transportation would be free.

I leave Bayeux and travel to Munich by train and when it comes time to go home, I will take a taxi to Munich Airport and will fly to Atlanta and will go through Customs there (I will declare everything that I buy) and then I will fly to Seattle.

1) How many bottles will Customs in Atlanta allow me to bring into the USA?
2) Will Atlanta have a limit that I can bring in?
3) Will Seattle care how many bottles I bring into Washington?

I thank you in advance for any information or help you can off.
Ken

Posted by
858 posts

One liter per person duty free. If you want a case or more, it may be easier to find a winery you like that has a distributor in the US and buy the wine thru them to be shipped to your home. We’ve done that in Italy and Portugal. In Ireland our son bought multiple bottles of gin at the airport duty free shop. No problem going thru customs in Newark. In Seattle, TSA tore all the duty free packaging off and inspected every bottle under a light before they would allow us on our connecting flight. You can bring back more, the duty really isn’t that much, it’s just getting the bottles here without breaking them or having the wine subjected to the temperature changes in the cargo section. And unless you buy one of the specialty suitcases they’re now making for wine, I would be really hesitant about packing multiple bottles of wine in a suitcase after seeing how suitcases are tossed around.

Posted by
5119 posts

Calvados is an apple brandy, with an abv of at least 40%. A dozen bottles of that would take a looooong time to go through (under normal circumstances). Regardless, you are allowed to bring back 1 litter of alcohol duty free. Any amount above that is subject to duty and taxes. Goods from some countries are subject to a higher duty rate. Since Georgia is your state of entry, you would have to check their state website to see if they have a limit on the amount you can bring in. The cbp website has info here: https://www.cbp.gov/travel/international-visitors/know-before-you-visit/customs-duty-information#:~:text=Federal%20and%20state%20regulations%20allow,applicable%20Customs%20duty%20and%20IRT.

As for transporting that number of heavy glass bottles in a suitcase- don't bet your paycheck that a hard case would be sufficient to prevent breakage in transit. The bottles would each need to be well padded. And even then there is no guarantee. Before embarking on something which might be quite expensive, perhaps check the current availability of Calvados in your state's liquor stores, and their prices.

Posted by
76 posts

Thank you Margie and CJean,
It appears that Atlanta will be the limiting factor in how much I can bring into the USA and that is 1 gallon if Calvados is distilled, which I am guessing it is.

I have never had Calvados before, but by description, it sounds like I may enjoy it.
I will try before I buy, just in case it turns out to be something that I don't enjoy.

I hope that someone might know about Calvados in or near Bayeux, so that I can try some that is considered to be very good.
I don't know how much taste testing I would want to do, because I am guessing that there could be a big headache in store if I tried a bit too much.

I don't know what size bottle is customary for Calvados, but if it is .750 ml. I could buy 5 bottles and if it comes in 1 litre bottles then I am down to just 3.

Thanks again for your help
Ken

Posted by
2032 posts

In the European Union, the maximum quantities of alcoholic beverages allowed in checked baggage are:

10 liters for strong alcohols and spirits above 22%

20 liters for intermediate alcohols (sweet wines, muscat, porto)

Bottles must remain in their original packaging.

/

Calvados producer in Bayeux:

Francois Lecornu

https://www.lecornu.fr/nos-calvados?lang=en

La ferme du Lavoir (20 km from Bayeux)

https://www.fermedulavoir.fr/fr/produits-fr.php

Both are organic

Posted by
20448 posts

Next time at an upscale restaurant in Seattle, order a calvados as an after dinner drink.

Posted by
296 posts

There are dozens, if not hundreds, of Calvados producers in Normandie. A lot of them are located east of Caen in the Pays d'Auge area.

Personally, I like the local stuff from the Bocage of Basse Normandie west of Caen: calvados hors d'age made by Damien Lemasson in Cametours, made about 5 miles from my house.

But if you can't find that you can't go wrong with some of the more highly marketed brands from the Auge area.

Posted by
1170 posts

There are indeed many calvados distilleries not far from Bayeux. Most are small, mom & pop places that you likely won't find on a Google Maps search. But look for their signs (sometimes very small) while driving west from Bayeux towards Omaha Beach on D514. Most will have a selection with increasing aging times and cost. One larger one near Omaha is Ferme de La Sapiniere. They have tastings and a retail operation. I stopped at another smaller one heading South from Omaha towards the highway. I forget the name, and can't find it online. Still another one is on a farm behind the German Cemetery at La Cambe named Vergers de Romilly. They also offer horse riding if you ask. By the way, I could easily go through a case of Calvados during the time between my Normandy visits (every two years). But it is very much an acquired taste, and you should definitely try it first to see if you like it before going through the hassle of bringing a lot home. I usually bring home a bottle or maybe two, but now you have me thinking of how to bring or ship more.

Posted by
2233 posts

We started with the tasting room in Bayeux. It would give you and idea if you enjoy it enough to pursue other distilleries.

Posted by
76 posts

I want to thank everyone for their information, advice and suggestions, it appears that I have many more options than I thought would be available and it looks like there are a few options within a few miles of the house we are renting between Bayeux and Omaha Beach.

As I mentioned above, I have never tried Calvados before, but if I like it and since I do not know if I will ever be back to Normandy again, I was hoping that I could bring several bottles back home, but since I will first land in Atlanta, I will be limited to 1 gallon or 5ea 750 ml bottles.

After going through Customs in Atlanta, I then fly to Seattle.
Will Seattle also impose a limit on how much I can bring home from Atlanta?
I would hate to get to Seattle with 5 bottles and then discover that I need to donate 2, 3 or 4 bottles to the governor.

Posted by
7715 posts

Will Seattle also impose a limit on how much I can bring home from Atlanta?
I would hate to get to Seattle with 5 bottles and then discover that I need to donate 2, 3 or 4 bottles to the governor.

States can impose limits, but in my experience, unless you are arriving in that state from an overseas flight, they have no practical way of enforcing it. After all, when you land in Seattle, you just claim your bag and walk out the door, you do not go through any "Customs", Even if arriving from overseas, the Federal Border Control is unlikely to enforce State laws. Incidentally, the same limits apply if you were to head over to Oregon and buy wine or liquor and return to Washington.

A quick search does show that Washington State does allow only two liters of spirits before you have to pay taxes on additional bottles, link is here

https://lcb.wa.gov/licensing/individual-importation-alcoholic-beverages-personal-use#:~:text=A%20person%2021%20years%20of,state%20liquor%20taxes%20and%20fees.

There is a form if you feel you really want to go to the trouble to follow through ;) But no one will take it from you.

As for Duty free limits in Atlanta, and paying any duty, in a couple dozen trips, and almost always bringing back way over the duty free amount, I have never had to pay duty, nor have I ever heard of anyone paying duty. I honestly believe that they determine trying to collect a few Dollars is just not worth the paperwork and trouble.

Posted by
76 posts

Thank you Paul, for your real world experience with Atlanta Airport.

As for Duty free limits in Atlanta, and paying any duty, in a couple dozen trips, and almost always bringing back way over the duty free amount, I have never had to pay duty, nor have I ever heard of anyone paying duty. I honestly believe that they determine trying to collect a few Dollars is just not worth the paperwork and trouble.

For Atlanta and it's 1 gallon limit for spirits, do you know if this is a Duty Free limit or is it an absolute limit? After reading about the rules for Georgia, it was unclear to me and I didn't see anything about fees for over duty limit.

After this trip to Europe and Normandy, the chance of going back to Normandy are slim, so if I find that I enjoy Calvados, then 5ea .750 bottle would last me a few years especially if I saved it for special events and 10 could last me a lifetime.

Thanks again
Ken

Posted by
7715 posts

There are two limits to be concerned with.

One is "Duty Free" which is only one liter, but like I said, rarely will they collect, and if they did, it would be mere Dollars.

The other, to which you might be referring, is 5 liters, which is more a safety measure. Basically you may only pack 5 liters of spirits (above 24% or 48 Proof) in a bag. This is to prevent a large quantity of flammable liquid from being a fire hazard. The limit is per bag, not per person.

This usually is not a problem, in that by the time you pack six 750ml bottles in a bag, with padding to prevent breakage, and other items, that about fills the bag and you are pushing 50 lbs.

The only caveat I would add, is the more you bring back, the more attention you attract, the more questions. Their concern would be with a large amount is that you are importing for sale. To say that you really liked it, can't get this brand in the US, so you stocked up, is likely a sufficient answer.

Posted by
76 posts

Thank you to everyone for your help and information.
I really appreciate you taking the time to help answer my questions.

Take care and I hope you all have a great weekend.
Ken

Posted by
265 posts

If you find you like Calvados (as I do), you do not need to lug a lifetime supply home with you. It is widely available in the United States; not as many different brands as you will find in Normandy, but quite enough.

Posted by
76 posts

Hi Slate,
What brand or brands of Calvados do you prefer that is sold in the USA?
As I have said, I have never had it before. I may discover that I do not like it, but maybe I will check around here and buy some before I leave and then I will know for sure if I am interested.

As with other types of alcohol, some are much better than others and I assume that this would also be true with Calvados.
If I can try a known high quality brand before leaving home and discover that it is not for me, then I won't bother looking when I get to Bayeux.

Thank you
Ken

Posted by
265 posts

I am by no means an expert, and don't have a particular brand to recommend, but I do know that like cognac, it is classified in grades by age, starting with VS (youngest), VSOP, and then XO (oldest). Any of them will be good, and anything that is French calvados in one of these grades imported into the US is a good purchase (as the calvados name and production is strictly regulated in France), so sample the different grades over there and see which you prefer. Generally the older ones have a bit more mellow flavor from the aging and the younger ones more of a fresher apple flavor. The older it is, the more expensive it will be.

Posted by
265 posts

And I will also add that the American equivalent of calvados is apple brandy, called "applejack", which has a long history in this country (when Johnny Appleseed did his thing 200 years ago, it was applejack and hard cider that was the primary goal, not eating apples). Laird's is a good brand for that, and a lot cheaper than French calvados, but calvados is definitely a much more complex and superior product than applejack.

Posted by
1170 posts

...but if I like it and since I do not know if I will ever be back to
Normandy again,...

I have been able to find it easily in NH and RI. As mentioned, not a huge selection, so if you find one you like you may want to bring some back as a memento. But outside of small mom & pop liqueur stores, you can find it around New England at least.

Posted by
76 posts

I have a couple weeks before I leave, I'll need to take a look at a large wine or liquor store when I get to town.

Take care and hope you all have a great weekend
Ken

Posted by
510 posts

Much as cognac is an acquired taste, Calvados is not for everyone. You might like it. You might not.
Before making plans to import a booze that is readily available in most US liquor stores, my suggestion is that you sashay down to your local shop and buy a bottle to sample. Get a good one. If you like to drink cognac, sample it as you would a good one from a proper glass. Keeping in mind that it is flavored, you might also mix it. It is commonly blended with apple cider (not apple juice).
Personally, I am not keen on it. Many years ago I convinced myself that I needed to bring a bottle home from a trip to France. It sat in my liquor cabinet for at least 10 years without tempting me.... your experience may vary.

Posted by
156 posts

Search a specialty/upper end liquor store in the states and buy a bottle preferably 10-20 years old at a minimum. See if you like it. I live near a store that deals in Calvados…..in Calvados. Have bought upper end brands there. Also got my son a bottle of Calvados distilled by a local farmer.

Don’t start thinking of buying suitcase lots of Calvados….it might not survive a flight intact and even when you declare all of it I imagine Customs might become interested in you for buying far beyond personal consumption amounts.

Finally, the Carrefour grocery store near us in Calvados offers some premium brands. You can go have a tasting experience or simply buy a bottle in the store. By the way I got a local recommendation to mix Calvados and tonic…..it makes a GREAT cocktail that way.

Posted by
76 posts

I want to thank everyone for their suggestions.

I have been looking online and calling around and so far I have found 1 place about 35 minutes away from my home that has 6 or 7 different types from 3 brands. I have a couple more places to call and I hope to pick up a bottle of XO in a couple days.

Thanks again
Ken

Posted by
33314 posts

one other little thing - if you like it and visit various farms in Normandy to sample theirs, remember that if you are driving the French limit for drink driving is very very low. If you will get a headache that is way over the limit. Perhaps find another person to drive?

Posted by
76 posts

Thank you Nigel, that is a very good point.

From Amsterdam to Cologne to Paris, Caen then Munich and Austria all of our transportation will be public transportation with the exception of Caen to Bayeux and around Normandy and for that, I will be leaving all the driving to my friend.

As I've gotten older, I really do not drink very often or very much.
The reason that I am considering the option of buying 5 or 10 bottles is, I most likely will never be in Normandy again, so if I found a Calvados that I really liked and it came from a small local Distillery a few miles from Omaha Beach, I would never have the chance to buy it again.
10 bottles would most likely last me 10 to 20 years, if I live that long.

I have been doing research on my Grandfather who landed on Omaha Beach, in the area of St. Laurent-sur-Mer nearly 80 years ago. He was in the 2nd Division, 37th Field Artillery, Battery B. Fought in Normandy, Northern France, Ardennes (Battle Of The Bulge) and Rhineland where he had a heart attack on 3/21/45 after crossing the Rhine and was sent to Paris. He carried shrapnel in his body for the rest of his life and received a Bronze Star among other medals.

It would be nice to be able to sit with a shot of Calvados that was made a few minutes drive from where he landed on Omaha and reflect on his life.

Posted by
1170 posts

What a heart-felt story of your grandfather. Thanks for sharing, and what a wonderful reason to raise a drink.

Posted by
461 posts

Your Calvados at the little French pub or the artisanal cider maker will magically taste better than any calvados you’ll ever get back home… including the same exact bottle of calvados that you LOVED while there.

So maybe don’t go hog wild. Transport and surly customs officials aside, it’s easy to get excited in the moment. I’ve done it. Learn from my mistakes

Posted by
20 posts

We usually try to find a bottle or two of a local beverage to bring back, be it a small batch quad in Belgium or a nice scottish whisky in Scotland. If it's just a bottle or two, you can easily pack that in your suitcase - just put it in a padded bottle bag, or even just wrap it in a few layers of your shirts/socks. I personally don't worry about Customs too much if my purchases were "reasonable". I've never encountered a Customs agent that gave one little care if I had an extra bottle of Italian wine in my suitcase. Having said that, I understand everyone has their own idea of what constitutes risk and how much of a by-the-book rule follower each person is. If more than just a couple bottles though, why bother pesonally schlepping around two 70 lb suitcases, even if it's just lifting them into and out of your car at home? Just have that larger collection of bottles shipped home. Consider it a convenience fee. A larger producer/shop will probably offer that service on-site, but if you buy from a little mom/pop place in the country, you may have to burn a few calories back in Bayeux to pack and ship from the local FedEx.

Finally, as other posters have mentioned, calvados is an aged spirit. The flavor (and price) will vary depending on how long the calvados was aged. Younger calvados may have a bit more of that fruit character and have a bit of a bite. As it ages, it may mellow and acquire more of the barrel character that people so enjoy in a high end whisky or brandy. So yes, if you're not sure, try to find a producer or shop in town that does tastings (or just order an after-meal drink).

Posted by
76 posts

Thank you to everyone for your information and suggestions.

I bought a small 375ml of Berneroy XO yesterday. After our very high State Tax the price was $30 and change.

I don't know where Berneroy falls in the order of quality Calvados, but I liked it and will be doing a taste test or two or three when I get to Bayeux and the Normandy Beach area.

As stated above, I will be entering Europe with 1 carry on and a personal bag for my electronics. I am allowed 2 free checked bags weighing up to 70lbs. I can see myself buying a used hard shell suitcase in Munich when I get there, but I don't think it will be weighing anymore than 30 pounds or so unless I have enough room to add the carry on that I brought into Europe.

I will most likely be buying 5, possibly 6, 750ml bottles of XO Calvados and if I find any that has been aged longer than XO or is a special Small Batch, I will most likely be buying this.

I have checked online for products made to safely ship wine and spirits and it appears that there are a few products available, but I really do not want to buy it here at home and waste my valuable carry on space going into Europe.

What is most commonly used and easy to find in France to protect bottles of spirits purchased in France?
Will small distilleries have the ability or be willing to pack what I have purchased for the long train ride I will be taking from Normandy to Munich?

Thanks again
Ken

Posted by
461 posts

Places that are used to shipping back to the states will have styro or possibly recycled cardboard shippers. Packing stores will have Bubble wrap and packing tape. I use my socks and pack clothes around individual bottles when I bring them back but sometimes calvados bottles are too bulbous for that.

Berneroy XO is a good entry-level calvados with good typicity. Like anything in this space, there is a pretty steep law of diminishing returns the further along the price curve you go. That said, you absolutely will notice a difference if you move to something like a Camut or a vintage Drouin. Is it better? That's for you and your palate to decide. It'll be more complex, less primary apple and smoother... and a helluva lot more expensive. If you're really on a calvados expedition, you could reach out to the Adrien Camut Distillery and see if they still offer tasting visits. They used to but I'm not sure if it's the type of thing you have to arrange in advance. I expect it is.

Posted by
55 posts

What a fun question! I have decided recently that calvados is my favorite spirit. I do really enjoy Irish whiskey too, but calvados has a special place in my heart.

My only addition is to check the farmers market in bayeux if you're there on Saturday. They give tastes and have 10, 20, and 30 year aged as I recall. I have a bottle here (empty) that is Pere Maurice from that farmers market. I enjoyed it very much. 20 yrs aged.

I don't claim to be an expert, but I liked that one very much. And I've had 2 in the states that were not very good. Recognizable as calvados but not nearly as good. I think one was Dacon. I forget the other.

Posted by
76 posts

What a fun question! I have decided recently that calvados is my favorite spirit. I do really enjoy Irish whiskey too, but calvados has a special place in my heart.
My only addition is to check the farmers market in bayeux if you're there on Saturday. They give tastes and have 10, 20, and 30 year aged as I recall. I have a bottle here (empty) that is Pere Maurice from that farmers market. I enjoyed it very much. 20 yrs aged.
I don't claim to be an expert, but I liked that one very much. And I've had 2 in the states that were not very good. Recognizable as calvados but not nearly as good.

We arrive in Bayeux Friday afternoon and Saturday will be a "Free Day" to unwind from the first part of our trip.

We planned on exploring Bayeux on Saturday to get an idea of where everything is and to look for parking spots that are close to where we are supposed to meet the Overlord Tour Bus Sunday morning.

I think a visit to the Farmers Market will be a great idea and opportunity to sample/purchase some Calvados and pick up some food for the rest of our week in Bayeux.

Is the Farmers Market easy to find?

Thank you for your help and information
Ken

Posted by
888 posts

zoomschwortz,
In my experience, most markets close up around noon or 1 p.m. I hope you get there in time. Of course, the one in Bayeux may last longer. I hope you make it!

Posted by
55 posts

To find the farmers market, look for Fontaine Saint Patrice in Google maps. Hours are something like 8-12. I don't think it really has hours. Best to walk, parking is sometimes hard to come by.

Posted by
76 posts

Thank you Judy and Bill,
Found Fontaine Saint Patrice on map and looked up the Market.
It says it is open from 07:30 to 14:30 on Saturday.

Thanks again to everyone, your help has been greatly appreciated.
Ken