Spring has sprung in Normandy! While not currently possible to visit our region, we wanted to wax lyrical about a wonderful and lesser-known area well worth a visit once it is OK to travel again: Normandy’s fruit trail.
Last spring, my husband and I decided to set off for a short break in search of scenery, good food and relaxation. We headed down the River Seine and followed the fruit trail from Notre-Dame-de-Bicquetuit to Duclair. We went at a leisurely pace and spent the day driving the 40 miles within the Boucles de la Seine Normande Regional Natural Park, taking in the spring flowers, fruit orchards, thatched cottages and Normandy cows in their plenty.
There are cascades of fruit blossom along the trail in the spring and these translate into juicy cherries from June onwards and plums a little later on in the summer. Strawberries, redcurrants and raspberries then come into season and can be bought directly from local growers along the trail. The trail is dotted with stalls at the entrance to farms with freshly-picked fare for sale straight to the hungry visitor. In autumn, the colours change, as does the fruit when pears and apples come into their own.
This stretch of the Seine has its own micro-climate and, thanks to its fertile soil, has proven a perfect location for fruit growing, a practice dating back to monasteries in the Middle Ages, when apple and pear tree orchards were established. The fruit trail also coincides with the Abbey Route, so history buffs can delight in a visit to the amazing Saint-Georges-de-Boscherville Abbey, with its rose gardens and architectural simplicity.
Next stop is the must-see Jumièges Abbey, christened ‘the most beautiful ruins in France’ by local boy made good, Victor Hugo. We decided to treat ourselves to an overnight stay in Jumièges at the four-star Le Clos des Fontaines, which boasts an outdoor pool, and headed into the village for a gourmet dinner at the Auberge des Ruines.
There is a handy online fruit trail booklet to guide you on your travels through this fruit fest. So whether you prefer the fun of hopping on and off the bac (the free ferries that cross the Seine) as you go from bank to bank, or you are of a more sporty persuasion and prefer to walk or cycle, make sure you visit Normandy’s fruit trail once lock-down is over to soak up all the scenery and sumptuous food!
For more details on food and drink in Normandy, visit the Normandy Tourism website.
Cover photo © P. Jeanson | Text: Alison Weatherhead