Mirabelles & the Beauty of the North

Having lived in France for about two and a half years now, I’ve become quite accustomed to our little corner of the country. Most of my weekdays involve a pretty standard routine – morning ride to work, lunchtime dash to the market, and then an easy bus ride home.

It’s funny to think you can become used to living in a place you considered so wildly foreign only a few years before. I’m no expert on the South of France, or even our small section of it, but I do feel quite “at home” here and a lot of things now seem very commonplace. Mind you, I’m still in awe of the sights, sounds, and smells of the Provençal markets, and certain foods definitely bowl me over, but I’ve come to expect them during my daily comings & goings. Believe me, that’s a very comforting feeling when you’re living in a foreign country.

So it’s with no small shock that whenever we travel to other parts of France I am completely amazed, almost rattled, with how beautiful this country is. Now, I haven’t completely “gone native” (yet) but wow… I’ve found myself quite “taken” with almost all of the places we’ve traveled to in France.

This post is inspired by a blog comment I recently received that pretty much summed up what I’ve been feeling on our travels around the country: “ Is there anywhere in France that isn’t beautiful??”

Well, very well put Karene, and I must say that I’ll happily continue my quest to find out. And on that note, I wanted to share a few photos of our recent trip to the grand nord to showcase some of the beauty found on the other side of la belle France.

On this sunny morning in the Lorraine, we caravanned to an orchard filled with the sweet, yellow fruit the region is famous for… the mirabelle. Mirabelles are only grown in the north of France and fetch a pretty Euro at the Provençal markets.  I’m not much of a plum fan per se, but mirabelles were indeed a happy surprise because they don’t taste much like the plums I remember… they’re softer, sweeter, and much more flavorful.

After “the harvest” mirabelles are preserved, turned into jam, or used fresh for a myriad of tarts and even main dishes. Oh, and of course, there’s mirabelle liquor… a very important, and very unforgettable, moment in many late-night mirabelle “tastings”.

For more mirabelle recipes:

Mirabelle Tart with Almonds

Mirabelle & Cognac Clafoutis

Mirabelle Jam

Tajine of Mirabelles & Chicken (in French)

12 thoughts on “Mirabelles & the Beauty of the North”

  1. I’m not sure I have ever tasted mirabelles other than in jam. You are so right that almost every part of France, at least all regions I have visited are beautiful. And I have pretty much been everwhere except from Bordeaux north to Bretagne along the coast.


    1. Hello Michel, I too am waiting to do to a Bordeaux to Bretagne trip… I’ve heard that that side of France is gorgeous as well. Yes, it’s a very pretty place here, feel lucky to get to know it.


  2. Oh what a fun outing!! I grew up with an Italian plum tree in our back yard and LOVED them, but I don’t know that I’ve ever tasted Mirabelles. I do like their pretty yellow color. 🙂


    1. Thanks Krista 🙂 Mirabelles are very good and I think a bit sweeter than plums… think you would really like them… bon weekend ma belle!


  3. I was reading your post and enjoying your photos, and was so surprised to see my name :). I sure love traveling vicariously with you through all parts of France. I have never seen a mirabelle here in So. Calif., but I am going to investigate. Thanks again for your lovely blog.


    1. Many thanks Karene… and thanks for your last comment as well 🙂 …it echoes what I often feel here when we travel around and very happy that you enjoy the blog. I know, I’ve never tasted a mirabelle in California either… and it took me a while to understand what type of fruit they were until we traveled up north and I tasted one. I even asked, but looks like it’s pretty unlikely to find them outside of France! Hope you have a nice weekend 🙂 Tuula


  4. My husband and I were lucky enough to live in Languedoc for 18 months. It was there that I discovered Mirabelles. One summer day, we went to a favorite restaurant for lunch. My “vegetarian” lunch (an omelette) included fruit for dessert. My plate of Mirabelles didn’t look as appealing as my husband’s decadent chocolate concoction, but one bite of this sweetly sublime fruit convinced me that my simple dessert was by far the better choice, And, after one bite, my husband was convinced, too. Another of France’s joys that I miss so much.


    1. Hello Gayleen, Thanks for your comment and you were indeed very lucky to live in the Languedoc for 18 months… that’s a very pretty region! And also full of wonderful food experiences…not to mention the wine…*sigh* And I agree with you about your mirabelle dessert, they are suprisingly good and I think very simple to put into desserts. And wow, what a result… On our last trip my mother-in-law served us warm mirabelles (with a touch of sugar) alongside a few scoops of vanilla ice cream… heavenly!


  5. I have to echo Karene’s thoughts – it seems there aren’t many places in France that lack in beauty.I am glad to have found your lovely blog,you are truly blessed to be experiencing such a beautiful place.


    1. Too true Mrs. C… France is pretty incredible and I do feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to live here. Also, the more you travel around, the more you get to know the French and learn about their culture… I’m still making progess on that one! Many thanks for your comment. Tuula


  6. I’ve never found Marseille to be attractive. 😉 How does one go native in France? You’ve given me much to ponder… over a glass of wine.

    I don’t think I’ve ever eaten mirabelles. I keep seeing them at the market but never buy any. Maybe at my next trip I’ll pick a few up and try them – I’m not a massive plum fan either.


    1. It’s true Holly, there are some pretty gritty areas and some are downright “unsavory” to say the least… but I am totally in love with the Vieux Port in the spring and summer, the views are stunning.

      I think you would be a mirabelle convert, really nothing like plums and great for adding to desserts… a French friend even said that the confiture is the best he’s ever tasted, and that’s saying a lot from the French 🙂


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