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THINGS TO DO IN THE FRENCH RIVIERA FROM  HAUTE VUE  VILLA MONTAUROUX

  • Writer's pictureDavid Viney

Strawberry Festival in Carpentras

By now, you'll be well aware of the "living by the seasons" way-of-life in Provence. To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven. And our purpose today, dear friends, is the celebration of the most delicious of fruits; the strawberry. Once a year, in Carpentras, there is a day dedicated to the magnificent red fruit; with direct, fresh sales from the producers for the pleasure of young and old!


Strawberry Festival in Carpentras
Strawberry Festival in Carpentras

Carpentras may be a bit of a drive for you, as it nestles (just) into the Vaucluse department (north-east of Avignon), but if you love strawberries, it's definitely worth it! What you won't find is strawberries rammed into all sorts of concoctions where they don't belong. What you will find is enormous baskets of strawberries, jam, juice, and some elegant sugary confections (all at a great price). Superb!


Carpentras Strawberries


The strawberry began by growing wild in Western Europe, America, and Asia; spread by migratory birds. The Romans appreciated them for their taste and fragrance. The strawberry we enjoy today was introduced to France in medieval times, and from the Renaissance onwards, was eaten with cream or wine.


There are now over 600 strawberry varieties in France. The Carpentras strawberry, grown in the Comtat Venaissin plain, has an unbeatable taste and became a registered trademark in 1987. It has its own brotherhood, which offers a virtual booklet with several sweet and savoury recipes based on strawberries, entitled: "Recipes from the Carpentras strawberry brotherhood". There are four main varieties of Carpentras strawberry:

  • Cléry: which is carmine red and bright, with a very aromatic and pleasant taste;

  • Gariguette: orange-red in colour, elongated and very fragrant;

  • Ciflorette: orange-red in colour and ovoid in shape, with tender, juicy, slightly acidic flesh, similar to the scent of the wild strawberry. It is considered the top-of-the-range strawberry.

  • Pajaro: dark red, almost purple, with an imposing heart shape.

The French consume an average of 2 kilograms of strawberries per person per year. 4,000 tons are produced each year in Carpentras, which represents more than 50% of the production of Provence with 500 farms in the Carpentras area.


Pop Quiz: Is the strawberry a fruit?


Answer = Not quite! The red, fleshy part that we like to bite into is not considered a fruit because it is only the receptacle of the flower. It is the "achenes", the small hard yellow seeds that can be seen on the surface of the strawberry, that are the fruit.


The Fête de la fraise à Carpentras - 2024


The Strawberry Festival returns on Saturday 13th April, 2024 and you can find all four main varieties on the stalls of the Comtadin producers; all at wholesale prices! Wine estates and other taste makers with strawberry-derived products will also be present. This is the programme for the day:


Saturday April 13 (open to all)

  • 10:15 a.m. - Official opening

  • 11 a.m. - Culinary demonstration by Escoffier’s disciples (savory dish)

  • 11:45 a.m. - Inductions

  • 12:30 p.m. - Aperitif offered by the town hall

  • 2 p.m. - Culinary demonstration by Escoffier’s disciples (sweet dish)

  • 3 p.m. - Prize giving for competitions

  • 5 p.m. - End of the strawberry festival

  • All day - Free carousel, giant chocolate fountain, strawberry smoothie bike, drawing competition organized by the merchants' association, mule ride for children, free competitions all day long.


(By appointment) with the Tourist Office

  • Attend the demonstration of the making strawberry cartons, at the Confiserie du Mont Ventoux - at 10:00 a.m.

  • Follow the guided tour from the town of Carpentras, "from the old center to the Porte d'Orange" - at 2:30 p.m.

  • Enjoy gourmet meals!


On the day before and after the event, there are special "strawberry themed" meals with wine organised at local restaurants. Check out the office festival site for more info.


Highlights of the 2023 Carpentras Strawberry Festival


The 2023 Festival took place under radiant sunshine. The day was very lively, with jazz numbers from the "Petite fanfare", induction chapter of the Brotherhood of the Strawberry of Carpentras, a pastry demonstration by the Disciples d'Escoffier chefs, and by the Envie des Mets. This nice little video will give you an idea:



Transportation: Getting There


  • By Car: If coming from the north, leave the A7 motorway at the Orange Sud exit and use the D950 to enter the town. From the south, leave the A7 at the Avignon Nord exit and take the D942 to reach Carpentras.

  • By Train: Carpentras station is served by (TER) regional passenger trains to Sorgues and Avignon, where you can connect to the Fast TGV lines. Timetables can be found here.

  • By Bus: Carpentras is served by the Trans'cove network (to the villages of Beaumes-de-Venise, Sarrians, Bédoin, Malaucène, Gigondas, Flassan, Venasque Urban and more), plus the ZOU bus network (for broader connectivity). Transcove timetables here and ZOU timetables here.


Resources


  • The official site of the Strawberry Festival

  • The Town of Carpentras website


Accommodation


With stunning views, private pool, super-fast WiFi and modern air-conditioning, Haute Vue is a large holiday home with private pool in Montauroux; a 2h25 minute drive from Carpentras and the perfect central base for a holiday in the South of France. Sleeping 10/12 in 5/6 bedrooms, it is close to the beautiful perched villages of the Var and in easy reach of the beaches and sights of the sparkling Côte d'Azur.





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