More than half of France’s agricultural land is devoted to cultivation. France’s northern regions experience the most cultivation and productivity rates. The southern regions of France, however, exhibit ideal environments for fruits and vegetables. Fruit cultivation and production has direct effects on France’s wine production, as most locally and domestically grown fruits are used in wine making. The region of Brittany is made popular for vegetable cultivation while Burgundy maintains a high reputation for wine making. Provence is known for its ideal environments, perfect for fruits, olives and lavender fields. France’s large-scale fruit production consists mainly of pears, apples, grapes and cherries.
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France produces more than 1 million tons of apples per year. The apple varieties grown in France include the golden, Granny Smith and red chief apples. These varieties have been cultivated within the region for more than 50 years. Newer varieties such as pink lady and honey crunch as well as organic varieties such as Juliet and choupette have also been introduced. More than half of the apples produced are exported to other European and oversea nations. The remaining half is used for jams and spread production commonly used in French cuisine. These jams and spreads are sold domestically and exported. Apple trees are most abundant in Normandy, where apple cider production also occurs.
Today, there are as many as 400 wild cherry trees growing in many regions in France. Cherry cultivation is abundant in the south, particularly in the Loire Valley. Cherries grown in this region are primarily used for Guignolet, a French cherry liqueur. Cherry trees are also grown in Provence primarily for export and for jams and spreads.
Along with apples and cherries, France produces a large-scale production of pears. Pears in France are used for export, jams and spreads, and for the production of Perry, an alcoholic drink made primarily with fermented pears. Pears are closely cultivated with apples and often both fruits are produced within the same region. There is a variety of wild pear species within the southwestern regions of France. Passe Crassane is a popular French pear that is usually enjoyed and used in French cuisine during the winter months.
France is considered the number one wine producer around the world. More than 7 billion bottles of wine are produced by the country. It has the second largest wine vineyard in the world, with Spain’s vineyard area being the largest. France cultivates an extensive and impressive variety of grapes, some of which are exported while others are produced specifically for wine making. More than 800,000 hectares are devoted to this fruit. The most cultivated grape in France is the Merlot variety, which is specially used for wine making and for blending wine flavors. Other popular grape varieties include the Syrah, Grenache and Ugni Blanc. Grape cultivation tends to be most prominent in southern regions of France, such as Bergerac and Bordeaux.