There are about 190 Fraternities (Confréries) in France and at least 30 of them are in the Provence region. They exist for the promotion and protection of apples, wine, bread, crèche figures (santons), truffles, figs, olive trees, garlic, pumpkins, Brignoles plums, mimosa, sausages, chickpeas, etc. And strawberries.
The members of the Carpentras Strawberry Fraternity have very jolly red and green costumes that actually make them look quite like strawberries. However, members of the Fraternity have a serious role to play in making sure that strawberries advertised as ‘Fraises de Carpentras’ are, indeed, from Carpentras in Provence. And not, as has apparently happened in the past, from places as far away as Toulouse. Strawberries have been grown around Carpentras for about a hundred years and the scented red berries are amongst the first on the market. Annual production is about 4000 tonnes.
‘Fraises de Carpentras’ means the strawberry you are buying comes from the area around Carpentras, not what variety it is. It could be round (for example the Pajaro or Clery varieties) or more elongated in shape (Gariguette or Ciflorette).
Where to buy the strawberries of Carpentras? The best place is any of the hundreds of markets in Provence, from the smallest village to the largest town. You should buy more than you need, because by the time you get home the quantity will have mysteriously halved.
Strawberries are grown all over Provence, in the Vaucluse, the Bouches du Rhône and in the Var, particularly near Nice at Carros where the annual strawberry festival celebrated its 47th edition in 2017.
If you can’t find the Carpentras ones, local strawberries wherever you are in Provence will be delicious too. The varieties on sale depend on the time of year. The following are some you might find in the markets:
– Sweet and slightly acid: Gariguette and Ciflourette
– Sweet: Clery and Dely
– With a scent of wild strawberries: Charlotte and Mara des Bois
One of the best sources of vitamin C from fruits, 100g (3 ½ oz) of strawberries will give you almost your entire daily requirement. Much nicer than taking a vitamin pill!
The Confrérie de la Fraise de Carpentras in full regalia.
Book your next stay during strawberry season – check out our hand-picked Provence vacation rentals!