Route Des FruitsRoute Des Fruits
©Route Des Fruits|JF Lange

The Fruit Route

Taking the road in a natural setting…In the Park, everything revolves around the loops of the Seine which represent from Rouen to its mouth, a route with diversified landscapes of nearly 120 km. Nature and cultural heritage are rich in their diversity and favor the reception of visitors looking for exchanges, meetings, space and freedom of discovery.

A gourmet campaign

Colors, scents and flavors decorate this route marked by the
printing blooms and the blossoming of fruit.
Relating the House of the Park located in Notre-Dame-de-Bliquetuit, to the municipality of Duclair through the loops of Jumièges and Anneville-Ambourville, the route extends over 62 km.
It crisscrosses fruit-growing yards and production orchards punctuated by traditional housing that adjoins an architectural heritage of great historical value. This
route, alternately right bank and left bank, rubs shoulders with the Seine ferries and can be traveled by car, bicycle or on foot as desired.

An ancestral culture

Many factors have allowed the development of a fruit culture in this sector of the Seine Valley: the presence of a favorable oceanic climate and the influence of the monks of the abbey of Jumièges.

This part of the Seine Valley is characterized by a river with tight meanders embedded between the chalky cliffs of the alluvial plateaus and terraces bequeathed by the river during its millennial wanderings.

Downstream of Rouen, the Seine Valley is a difficult environment: steep cliffs, wetlands, numerous floods… Yet, it is in this geographically limited and constrained space, that the production of fruit trees was able to develop. Indeed, the presence of the river, the less abundant rainfall and the white chalk cliffs that reflect the heat and protect from cold winds create a microclimate very favorable to fruit growing. Since the origins of the abbey of Jumièges in the 7th century, the monks cultivated the vine which reached its peak from the 14th to the 16th century. But the poor quality of local wines and the rise of the production from wine-producing regions encouraged the monks to change their culture. Starting in the seventeenth century, the religious replace the vines with apple and pear trees. Plum trees, cherry trees and other fruit varieties will be implanted later.

A typical landscape of the Seine Valley of Normandy

This landscape is the result of the joint work of nature and men who have taken advantage of local physical peculiarities.

As you move away from the banks of the river, the quality of the soil and its level varies:

  • On the banks of the Seine, the alluvial bulge is an elevation composed of alluvial deposits by the Seine. This sector is rarely flooded and developed orchards and farms with buildings dedicated to the exploitation.
  • The wet bocage meadows partitioned by pollarded trees or hedges occupy the marsh.
  • Towards the interior of the loops, the ground level rises in terraces favoring the establishment of linear villages.
  • Forests spread in the heart of loops

Fruit growing

Before 1945, there were only traditional orchards or “meadow orchards” in this region composed of “high-stemmed” trees that allowed for a dual use of the land for food production: fruit growing and livestock with grazing animals such as sheep or cattle. In the 1960s, to facilitate working conditions, harvesting and profitability, professional arborists replaced the so-called “high-stemmed” trees with “half-stemmed” or “low-stemmed” trees, depending on the species and variety cultivated. Production orchards with plot specialization are developing.

You can still encounter orchards planted with high-stems along the road because the Seine Valley remains one of the last French high-stem cherry tree production basins. Some of these orchards have also been maintained in the fruit yards to preserve the tradition of domestic use often linked to the production of cider. Even with branches at “man’s height”, picking remains a physical exercise that requires skill and care not to damage fruit ready for consumption. For picking from half-stemmed or tall-stemmed trees such as cherry trees, the exercise is a balancing act and requires special care because their branches break like glass.