What I have learned about growing fruit in France (after 2 1/2 years)

Where I live in Provence, apricots, plums, peaches, sweet cherries rule. Apples come in second with pears. Since we are close to the Cevennes mountains and the Apilles, we do get some cool to cold nights during the winter; Apples are grown in a columnar fashion, while all stone fruits are grown ‘open vase’ . Our varieties are very different from those at home in the Northeast. Many of the fruits look quite perfect when sold in the markets; so they do care about the look of their produce. There are crates simply labeled ‘confiture’, meaning these fruits are good for jam only. The French throw out very little.

During the winter there is a ‘citrus’ madness that includes at least seven différent varieties of mandarines, the favored citrus here. We are told it is best for your health to eat five fruits a day year round. Our French citrus comes mainly from Corsica and Menton. But, if there is a terrace or tiny balcony, you will usually find a potted lemon tree on it .

The French are excellent growers and orchards are neat as a pin. Fruit grows easily here so there isn’t much spraying that is necessary. I spray copper and bordeaux mixture only. I have learned the hard way, that water is the best killer for aphids, the only insect I have to fight.

Citrus is grown in bagged soil just for citrus ( if you grow in pots). and fertilized with a specific citrus fertilizer of your choice, there are many. Roasted ‘bulls horns’ that are ground into powder is used as fertilizer for stone fruit and pomme fruit. And I thought ‘fish emulsion smelled bad!!!’ My dog loves it, my neighbors don’t!

It has been for me finally a pleasure to grow fruit here. My Mirabelle de Nancy is loaded with fruiting spurs which I could not say in the past. From zone 7-a is is a real jump to zone 9 a-b.

Storing fruit is a big part of growing fruit. Here storing apples is not very good. Since all fruits are crated and driven around from town to town on a daily basis, they get knocked around, sometimes picked over, but mostly the crates are refreshed with new fruit. All of the marchés are outdoors so all of the fruits and veggies are subject to the daily weather, heat or cold. Our big weekly marché is every Saturday, a prime day, so we get an excellent selection. Apples are poorly cared for during the winter. They are mealy and not worth eating.

The grapes, during their season are excellent. We also get all of the Italian varieties. All nuts are fabulous. No black walnuts! I miss them. Our pineapples are on the smaller side and come primarily from Morocco as do our dates. All the other dried fruits are French. All are delicious.

There are so many olive tree groves! The olives are sensational. Again, many varieties. The olive mills are just as plentiful as the vineyards. The competition for the best oil is always ongoing.

The French really grow most of the fruit they eat. Afterall, its included in breakfast, lunch and dinner. The pastries are really saved for holidays and occasions. Yogurt with fruit on top is a key dessert in all restaurants.

I miss sweet corn. They grow a variety to feed to animals only.

In all, growing fruit here is like growing fruit in California and Arizona with a French accent. I don’t show many of the different varieties as I know

I cannot ship them to you . Xxoo Mrsg47


Bonjour Madame Gibson:

I enjoyed reading your text about your experience in France for about 2.5 years. I guess I too would be quite extatic to jump 2 or 3 hardiness zones. As all Humans must say at least once in their life: the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence, right? It’s fun growing nordic apples but growing more «delicates» fruits remains a dream for many of us on this forum. A dream we will never fulfill.

An anecdote about sweet corn:
Québec do receive a lot of French or European people and when invited to an «épluchette de blé d’Inde» (corn on the cob lunch), almost all of them shiver at the thought of eating :corn: on the cob. They have this notion that only animals eat corn (yes, they eat corn but only dried corn, right?) and most of them relinquish this new eating activity but they have no choice since there is only fresh corn to eat and nothing else so they try it but one can see that they are certainly not confortable doing it. I laught every time!!!

My many travels has proved to me that in North America we grow the finest sweet corn on the planet. I have tried fresh corn on the cob in many countries (including right now in Mexico) and all corn eaten are very pale copy of our N/A corn so I fully understand your urge to eat good sweet corn. I don’t want to rain on your parade but forget about eating decent sweet corn on the cob in :fr: or elsewhere in Europe.



Thanks for that. I’m surprised that citrus would require special soil and ferts.


Great information. I am so glad you are able to grow peaches there.


@mrsg47 I always tell my husband that while I love Europe, I couldn’t live that far from sweet corn and tacos! :wink:


I was going to ask how far from Jardens are you but 700 miles
I looked it up

I wonder if you could get scion wood or seeds from them though for yourself?

they have a Persimmon conservatory


Not all fruit is bad at least some Mexican stores have a good selection
I think Jewel would be the highest commercial store with the best fruit
they carry jack fruit

I di get some Cherimoya from Myers seeds where not even ripe, and tasted bland
same thing with even some mom pop type store in Chicago
a large price for guanabana , but very disappointing
can you buy Guanabana or cherimoya juice with fresh fruit inside.
(fresh with no corn syrup it’s a buck here for a 16 oz can (473 ML.)
taste like canned peach syrup almost.


I have two new fruit trees being delivered next month. Don’t think I need more. they are on my terrace and I have 7 trees. I was going to have only four. I’ve had to order a new pot for the new cherry tree. Very happy with my selections. Wish I could have more peaches and apricots. . .


Well I take back some of what I said about the quality of fruit here
I did have some of the best Lemons from a health food store (fruitful yield) and even a better orange then one I picked myself off a tree in Texas , but In general I agree.

Anyways the strawberries add a nice color to the selection in the fridge, but no not for eating just aesthetics.

By the way looking through Garden catalogs I noticed only sweet onions in many they have there place in cooking/ caramelizing , but on a hamburger I want a nice pungent one not something that has no taste The plant is pretty though like me looks great on the out side, but you realize after you peal the layers back gets stinky er , and stinkier.

There are places that bring fresh produce farm co op’s
a few times I helped with some orders when I was able to stay at a farm (after pawpaw fest in Ohio)
that produce tasted good (the tomato was fully ripe)

It has been going on for many decades , but most do not use it

As much as I do not like the greed of Corporations I hope food/ fruit standards will be higher
with with food delivery service becoming more common, and things will not have to sit in a warehouse unripe, but be fresh, and ready to eat because customers already are waiting for it.

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Mrsg47 I got purple potatoes fist size for a normal price at the mexican store
as well as a large bag of purple rise for a cheap price .

What is funny is though a long while back I got these ping ball sized purple potatoes from the health food store I ate a few, and surprisingly was full must of had a lot of nutrition as our bodies eat to strive to get full but not by volume , but by Nutrition.

I did get some purple potatoes again at normal grocery store that are ping ball size , (expensive)
but from a common vegetable company (very corporate )
they did not have the same stomach filling effect at all taste good though, but think they picked early.

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Why don’t you try growing them?

That is why I paid so much small ones never grew eyes
The mexican store ones did though (actually forgot for a bit I bought them )

I also have Native Minnosota wild rice (at a native American Pow wow
I gave away some pawpaw saplings year old s (to them as well )
(, but also to someone like 4 feet tall since the day before He was very excited. )

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Of course Mexico is also part of North America.

My Italian cousins had the same experience in the US with eating sweet corn!

They did end up enjoying it, but it was odd to them to try it.


What a smorgasbord of fruit and vegetables! So beautiful and how I would LOVE to have a market like that near me! (New Hampshire) I was intrigued by the “richaud” - squash blossoms? So beautiful and yummy-looking, but I wonder how long they last being packaged like that and how do you prepare them? Thank you so much for sharing your region’s bounty with us and giving us snowbound northerners a spot of color and interest on a dreary winter day!

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Lovely fruits and produce! You already answered this - that you have limited space and cannot grow everything - but I’ll still ask, why no figs? The first fresh fig I tried was in France and it was great, but now that I can grow them myself, I can look back and say they were only as good as figs sold in grocery stores here. Nothing to disparage about, but figs grown in Mediterranean climate and picked at its peak are at a different level.


They last about two days in the fridge. But you stuff the flowers then saute or deep fry the entire tiny zuke with the stuffed blossom. Occasionally they are steamed.

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No figs, because there are so many here from spring into winter. And every variety imaginable. They are huge trees here.


I also had a very good friend in Italy. When she would visit me I would make sure she took home great sweet corn kernels to plant (years ago and it was legal). She grew it Tuscany and then gave a barbeque with American Sweet Corn. At first hesitant, her Italian friends joined in and said it was the best corn they ever eaten and she gave the party again, summer after summer. Pretty great! Nothing like introducing an excellent vegetable to a foreign country known for fabulous food.

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