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Fruit Names in French

Instructor: Lucy Barnhouse
This lesson discusses vocabulary for fruits in French and the seasons when they can be most commonly found in France. Recipes involving fruit and cases of potentially confusing vocabulary are also covered.

Fruits in French

Spring and Early Summer

Fruits from temperate climates start becoming available in most of France in May. If you're in the South, near the Mediterranean, you may see things like avocados (les avocats, layz ah-voh-KAH) somewhat earlier. L'avocat is also the French word for lawyer, but context should make it very clear which noun you're looking at!

tartes

May brings an abundance of strawberries, both ordinary and wild varieties. These are known as les fraises (lay FREHZ) and les fraises des bois, respectively. Whereas wild strawberries are often avoided in the US, there's no such hesitancy in France. Both of these fruits are deliciously popular, on their own and in recipes for pastries and desserts.

High Summer

High summer brings still more delicious variety. Here is a list of some of the fruits available in June and July:

  • les groseilles (lay groh-SAY) / currants, feminine noun
  • les framboises (lay frahn-BWAHZ) / raspberries, feminine noun
  • les cerises (lay sehr-EEZ) / cherries, feminine noun
  • les pêches (lay PESH) / peaches, feminine noun
  • les abricots (layz ah-bree-KOH) / apricots, masculine noun
  • les pastèques (lay pahs-TEK) / watermelons, feminine noun
  • les melons* (lay mö-LOHN) / melons, masculine noun

*Note that 'melons,' while a general term in English, is used in French to refer to cantaloupes.

Late Summer

Some fruits coming into season earlier are still available in August, but the consistent heat and added moisture make a number of new fruits come into their own.

  • les mûres (lay mür) / blackberries, feminine noun
  • les figues (lay FEEG) / figs, feminine noun
  • les mirabelles (lay mee-rah-BELL) / mirabelles or mirabelle plums, feminine noun
  • les poires (lay pwahr) / pears, feminine noun
  • les reine-claude (lay renn-KLOHD) / greengages, feminine noun
  • les airelles (layz ehr-ell) / cranberries, feminine noun
  • les quetsches (lay kwetsh) / damsons or damson plums, feminine noun

The word for damsons may look odd, but it's related to the German word for the same fruit, Zwetschgen. Many of these fruits are popular in pies and tarts (les tartes, les tartines) as well as on their own.

Autumn

September is a transitional month, with some of the sweet fruits of late summer - like figs and blackberries - still flourishing, and autumn produce beginning to come into its own. September is also a good month for nuts, such as the chestnut - le marron (lö mar-ROHN) or la châtaigne (la shah-TEN) - and the hazelnut, la noisette (la nwah-ZET). Late autumn brings a richer selection, including the following:

  • les pommes (lay POM) / apples, feminine noun
  • les prunes (lay prün) / plums, feminine noun
  • les raisins (lay raz-EHN) / grapes, masculine noun
  • les grenades (lay grö-NAHD) / pomegranates, feminine noun
  • les dattes (lay dat) / dates, feminine noun

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