In France, strawberries are adored – in fact the French even claim to be responsible for the popularity of the delicious red fruit!
The common woodland strawberry was known in Roman times and grown in Europe since early days but it was much later that the sweet red strawberry will know today was cultivated. In France they are called fraises.
In 1714, Amédeé François Frézier, an explorer, mathematician and naval military engineer of Louis XIV was sent to South America to spy on the Spanish who had ports there. He returned to France with some strawberry plants from Chile and gave them to the gardeners at the King’s Royal Gardens in Paris. The fruit was white, quite large “as big as a small egg” said Frézier and not particular tasty. The Paris gardeners sent the plants to Brittany where they were cross bred with other berries grown around the town of Plougastel near Brest. They produced the succulent tasty strawberries we know and love today.
Nowhere loves them more than the town of Beaulieu-sur-Dordogne, famous for making the biggest strawberry tart in the world!
Beaulieu-sur-Dordogne in Correze, Limousin claims to be at the heart of “Strawberry Country” and celebrates its Fete de la Fraise every spring on the second Sunday of May. There is a competition for the best fruit, producer’s stalls, music, games, sports activities, circus school, craft market, a parade and an incredibly enormous strawberry tart – enough to give the thousands who attend this colourful festival a slice! Entry is free to this typically French festival.
The picturesque town is in a beautiful and unspoiled part of France that’s well worth a visit – even if you don’t make it to the Strawberry Festival!
Now… if only we could team the biggest strawberry tart in the world with the biggest bottle of Champagne in the world – we’d have one big party on our hands!