Norman cider is famous throughout France: it is principally, however, the western part of the province that produces it. Throughout the whole of that district, the lower classes of the inhabitants scarcely use any other beverage. Vines, as I have already had occasion to mention, were certainly cultivated, in early times, farther to the north than they are at present. The same proofs exist of vineyards in the vicinity of Caen and Lisieux, as at Jumieges. Indeed, towards the close of the last century, there was still a vineyard at Argence, only four miles south-east of Caen; and a kind of white wine was made there, which was known by the name of Vin Huet. But the liquor was meagre; and I understand that the vineyard is destroyed.—Upon the subject of the early use of beer in Normandy, tradition is somewhat indistinct. The ancient name of one of the streets in Caen, rue de la Cervoisiere, distinctly proves the habit of beer-drinking; and, when Tacitus speaks of the beverage of the Germans, in his time, as “humor ex hordeo vel frumento in quandam similitudinem vini corruptus,” it seems highly improbable but that the same liquor should have been in use among the cognate tribes of Gaul. Brito, however, expressly says of Flanders, that it is a place where,
“Raris sylva locis facit umbram,
Indigenis potus Thetidi miscetur avena,
Ut vice sit vini multo confecta labore.”
And the same author likewise tells us, that the Normans of his time were cider-drinkers—
“... Siceraeque potatrix Algia tumentis ... Non tot in autumni rubet Algia tempore pomis Unde liquare solet siceram sibi Neustria gratam.”
Huet is of opinion, that the use of cider was first introduced into Neustria by the Normans, who had learned it of the Biscayans, as these latter had done from the inhabitants of the northern coast of Africa.