I love getting to know other foreigners in France better and hearing their stories. I have the pleasure of introducing Emily Durand of Your Private Provence to you today. Until she wrote this post for my readers below, I had no idea that Provence was such a major player in France’s apple scene or that Emily’s family has acres and acres of apple orchards! Have a read…
Emily Durand of Your Private Provence: Pink Lady girl
Late August 1995, I took a road trip with a French guy from Seattle to San Francisco. He told me it was for the sunset together in Santa Cruz but what I really got was a dozen different visits with Californian apple growers.
The new apple variety from New Zealand, Pink Lady, had just made its marking in the US. This French guy, whom I had just met, had one more mission to accomplish in the US before returning to France after his 6-month apprenticeship in Northern Washington.
The competition between his Pink Lady and me hasn’t exactly vanished.
I have lived in the South of France now for about 20 years on the family run orchard and continue to hear a lot about this other lady 🙂 – We have 20 hectares (50 acres) of Pink Lady apple trees.
Our farm is located in Provence. We have land in Cavaillon where we live and also near Avignon on the river Island you see when standing on Le Pont d’Avignon. In all, we have 100 hectares (250 acres) of apples (Gala, Elstar, Golden, Braeburn, Granny and a French apple variety called Temptation) and pears (Guyot, William, Comice).
People from all over the world travel to France for its wine and olive oil. They book tours months in a advance for VIP wine tours that may include a picnic in the vineyard or a specialty pairing with cheese or chocolate. It’s rare though to hear so much romantic hype over the apples.
And yet, Provence is the biggest producer of apples in all of France!
So this is where I started my career in tourism. I give tours in Provence to discover the back roads and the products of France that tell a story. Apples definitely tell a story. There’s mine but many more too. Take my father-in-law, for example. It’s amazing to think that he bought the land we live on in ’69 and took out the vineyard to plant apple trees! There are many products that belong to the heritage of Provence and continue to provide a local economy other than the vineyards and olive groves.
Apples can be just as romantic as wine too — and I’m not just saying that because my husband asked me to marry him in a Pink Lady field.
Picnics don’t have to be just in the vineyards! Apple orchards provide a nice Provencal backdrop to a romantic picnic. And if you happen to be here in April for the budding when the fluffy white flowers give you a feeling of floating on a cloud then, believe me, you have a picnic in Provence to remember.
Oh, and the pairing. Of course picking an apple from the tree and munching into it gives a wonderful sensation of going back to the exquisite basics in life, but apples also have their sweet and savory side to delight. Try adding slices of Pink Lady to a chicory salad topped with blue cheese and walnuts drizzled with a light olive oil vinaigrette. Or thinly slice the Pink Lady and lay on top of your pâté de campagne! My favorite of all is one bite of dry goat cheese for one bite of Pink Lady (Comice pear and Comté is also a great combination). You can also try making a coleslaw by adding shredded apple to the shredded cabbage.
So there you have a little taste of my life story. My French husband, by the way his name is Jean-Michel (pic below in the Cavaillon Melon Festival fashion show), is very supportive of my Provence tour company and loves to meet my guests and give them a little French charm. So if you happen to come to the South and request a gourmet tour you may just get to see him in the apple orchard and hear his version of how he took me to Santa Cruz to see the sunset!
Thank you for the guest post, Emily! Visit Your Private Provence here and book a Provencal adventure with her if you’re ever in the area! She’ll show you the best that Provence has to offer and can put together custom itineraries for family trips, a wellness retreat, a culinary tour or whatever sounds good to you.