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 grace this route marked by spring blooms and the blossoming of fruit.
Relating the Maison du Parc located in Notre-Dame-de-Bliquetuit, to the commune of Duclair passing through the loops of Jumièges and of Anneville-Ambourville, the route extends over 62 km.
It crisscrosses fruit-growing yards and production orchards punctuated by a traditional habitat that adjoins an architectural heritage of great historical value. This path, alternately right bank and left bank, runs alongsidethe 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 bya 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 restrained space that fruit tree production has been able to develop. Indeed, the presence of the river, less rainfall, and the white chalk cliffs that reflect heat and protect from cold winds create a microclimate that is very favorable to fruit growing. From 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 mediocre quality of local wines and the rise of production from wine regions prompted 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.

Landscapes of the Seine Valley of Normandy

This landscape is the result of the joint workof natureand men who have taken advantage of local physical singularities.

As one moves away from the river banks, the quality of the soil and its level vary:

  • On the banks of the Seine, the alluvial bulge is a raised area composed of alluvium deposited by the Seine. This area is rarely flooded and developed orchards and farms with buildings dedicated to the exploitation.
  • The wet bocage meadowspartitioned with pollarded trees or hedges occupy the marsh.
  • Toward interior of the loops, the ground level rises in terraces favoring the establishment of linear villages.
  • Forests spread out in the heart of the loops.

Fruit growing

Before 1945, there were only traditional orchards or “pre-orchards” in this region composed of “tall-stemmed” trees that allowed for a dual use of the land for food purposes: fruit cultivation and animal husbandry with grazing of animals such as sheep or cattle. In the 1960s, to facilitate the conditions of work, harvesting and profitability, professional arborists replaced the so-called “high-stemmed” trees with “half-stemmed” or “low-stemmed”depending on the species and variety cultivated. Production orchards with specialization of plots 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 production basins.Some of these orchards have also been maintained in fruit yards to preserve the tradition for domestic use often related to cider production. 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 attention because their branches break like glass.