France: What’s in season


If you’re travelling to France this summer, a good tip is to avoid spending a fortune on restaurants and give the country’s extensive food markets a chance. In France, August and the late summer period is the best time for lighter delicacies, with vegetables, fruits and fish stealing meat’s thunder in most restaurants across the country. Here is a selection of the most delicious seasonal products worth sampling during your French holiday in August and September.

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Vegetables

At this time of year, the French devour immense quantities of fresh vegetable dishes, such as salade nicoise and salade au chevre. When selecting produce at the market, try and get vegetables from Provence-Alpes-Côtes d’Azur. The area is France’s largest and finest supplier of vegetables, thanks to its gentle Mediterranean climate. August and September’s must-eat products are green beans, eggplants, tomatoes, zucchini, basil and fennel. If you feel particularly in love with aubergines, you absolutely must try out these delicacies:

Aubergine caviar There are no fish eggs involved, so don’t worry if you’re not too keen on “proper” caviar. It’s more of a delicious pate, perfect as a spread or sandwich filler and great as a starter.

Aubergine fries It’s as simple as it sounds: Aubergine sliced and fried just like chips. A great alternative to McDonalds.

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Fruit

There’s almost nothing better than snacking on fresh fruit on a summer’s day. The fruit season is almost over, but there are several varieties that are at the peak of tastiness right about now.

Apricot (abricot) France produces over 30 different types of apricot, which means that the harvest times change depending on regional climatic variations, along with many other factors. But not to worry: you can be sure that by mid-August you’ll have managed to taste all of them. French apricots are extremely diverse and it’s easy to feel lost when the moment of choosing comes. To make your choice easier, we recommend the apricots from Rhônes-Alpes, Pyrénnées Orientales and Languedoc Roussillon.

Melon of Cavaillon (Provence) No other fruit encapsulates the essence of summer lightness better than melon. In the small town of Cavaillon, an irresistibly juicy type of melon has been grown since time immemorial, and nowadays its future is preserved by the Cavaillon Melon Consortium. Absolutely mouthwatering and the perfect treat on a hot day.

Nectarine (brugnon) France is one of Europe’s biggest producers of nectarines, with the bulk of production coming from three regions: Languedoc-Roussillon, Provence-Alpes-Côtes d’Azur and Rhone-Alpes. Between June and late August – depending on region– a wave of exquisite nectarines invades food markets across the country. A fruity purchase you don’t want to miss during your French holiday.

Plum (Prune) France grows a wide variety of plums, with production focusing on the south-west and east of the country. As choosing the right type of plum can become a tedious dilemma we recommend two labels. The first one is the Reine-Claude Doree plum from the Midi-Pyrenees region. The second variety is the Mirabelle de Lorainne from Nancy, which is great as fresh fruit, where its counterpart from Metz, is better suited for jams. Both the Reine-Claude Doree and Mirabelle de Lorainne are harvested in mid-August. So, take notes and be sure to make the right choice at the market.

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Seafood

If you’re thinking that this list can’t leave out seafood, you should know that in France seafood is always in season. With Normandy providing the whole country with top-quality scallops and sole and Brittany specializing in lobster, crayfish and mussels, there’s constantly something to sink your teeth into. But some varieties taste better this time of year. Here we’ve selected a few of them.

Sardines of Quiberon (Brittany) There’s something special about this small fish living in the waters of Brittany. Even though the sardines of Quiberon can be enjoyed in oil throughout the year, the fishing season hits a peak between June and November. If you’re by the sea you can pick up a few right off the boats.

Anchovies of Collioure (Pyrénées-Orientales) Back in 2004 this variety of Engraulis encrassichotlus (sometimes we like indulging ourselves in big words) was honoured with the European label of PGI (Protected Geographical Indication), confirming itself as one of the most popular varieties of fish among French people. The fishery is conducted between April-May and September-October rigorously with nets. Anchovies of Collioure can be enjoyed in three different ways: salted, brined and in oil.

Mussels It’s almost a rule: You can’t go to france without having seafood. The mussel season will start again in September and there’s nothing like enjoying mussels and a glass of white wine in the autumn sun. The western coast is known for their quality seafood, so if you’re in the area we highly recommend you try it.

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Cheese

There’s no way we can write about French food without mentioning cheese. There are always plenty of cheeses to indulge in, but in the months of August and September, there are a few specialties we recommend.

Chaource (Champagne-Ardenne) This cheese is very similar to the famous camembert, but creamier. If you fancy a champagne breakfast, this cheese is perfect to serve with it. Some people would claim it’s best in spring, but we find that by late summer the cheese is deliciously smooth and nutty with a rounder taste. Popular at cheese markets around France, you won’t have any problem finding this no matter where you are.

Brie de Meaux (Seine-et-Marne) Brie is one of the more popular French cheeses and it’s often underestimated. Just remember, you haven’t tasted real brie until you’ve sunk your teeth into a Brie de Meaux. The cheese is produced in Ile de France and is an ancient cheese. It’s made from cow’s milk and is usually matured for 6 to 8 weeks before turning into pure deliciousness.

P&O Ferries helps you eat healthy with its super convenient 90-minute route from Dover to Calais.

Picture credits: Tim Sackton, Chez Loulou, Fredrik Thommesen and French Duck

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