to cradle in French + garden photo
A trend in France this summer + photos of Ramatuelle

A food that garantees happiness, luck, health and offspring?

Almond harvest

Happy, lucky, and healthy and we haven't even eaten an almond yet! Just goes to show the power of this fuzzy, favorite French fruit. Read on...

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Mas la Monaque - Rent this beautifully restored 17-century farmhouse. Click here for more pictures.

une amande (ah-mahnd)
    : almond

sugared almond = la dragée
almond paste = la frangipane
almond tree = un amandier
sweet/bitter almond = amande douce/amère
almond tartlet = une amandine
... and have you ever eaten a "Pithivier"? A pie made of puff pastry with almond paste inside.
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Audio File: Listen to Jean-Marc read the following sentences from Wikipedia.frDownload MP3 or Wav 

  • recouverte d'une peau veloutée au toucher, verte et duveteuse, l'amande est un fruit à coque/ Covered with skin that is velvet to the touch, green and fluffy, the almond is a nut.
  • au temps des Romains, on jetait des amandes sur les mariés pour leur garantir bonheur, chance, santé et une belle descendance. In Roman times they threw almonds at newlyweds, guaranteeing them happiness, luck, health, and many descendants
  • L'orgeat que l'on consomme de nos jours est une boisson fabriquée à partir d'amandes. The orgeat we drink these days is a beverage made partly from almonds.

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE... by Kristin Espinasse

We continue this twice-weekly journal with photos rather than essaysThis way I can relax and focus on Mom. Only two more weeks together, time is flying past! Enjoy today's snapshots of our almond récolte and see you in a few more days, with even more pictures :-)

Kissing the almond harvesters

Mom and I returned home to a flurry of activity. Jean-Marc and his friends were tackling the almond harvest. We had been wondering how to approach the chore, hemming and hawing about it for days. Then Guillaume, his brother Benjamin, and Eric (all skiers from Serre Chevalier) showed up! In the no-nonsense fashion typical of les montagnards, or mountain men--the guys brought down the fuzzy shelled fruit in a shower of efficiency!

(There's Mom, kissing Benjamin each time he offers her une amande fraîche.)

Hugging the almond harvesters

Mom's right, a little show of gratitude leads to even more harvested almonds! That's Benjamin's brother, Guillaume, standing on the chair raking in the velvety "fruit."  


But let's not be too kissy-huggy... not with Chief Grape looking on! Good thing his specialty is wine, or he might be called Chief Nut. Just sayin'.


Back to business. Here's Eric, ski instructor and pub owner in Serre Chevalier. Looks like he is holding plyers in one hand. Other alternative nut-crackers included those heavy pétanque balls, which were handy for cracking the shells (see first photo of this series, lower right corner) 


 Trying my luck with the le râteau, or rake. How do you harvest almonds?

More importantly, how do you like your almonds? Roasted, raw and fresh (as devoured here, by the guys), in frangipane (le gâteau des rois...) Comment here, and share ideas on more ways to enjoy almonds!


 Favorite photo of Guillaume: The Art of Almond Harvesting


Benjamin, right, was just a kid when I first met him. Last year, after retiring from professional skiing, he coached the French Women's ski team in Sochi!


In addition to plyers and steel pétanque balls, another alternative to the nutcracker is displayed here. Guillaume, careful with your teeth! 

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Did you enjoy the almond harvest? And learn a thing or two? Here's another tip: A big straw hat makes a charming harvest basket. This one, found at the farmers market, was a gift from my belle-mère, Marsha,  and my Dad

Capture plein écran 16122011 162653Very excited and grateful for the latest review of Blossoming in Provence:

 "I loved this book, and wanted it to go on forever! I'm hoping for a lengthier book from her sometime in the near future." --LuAnn

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Karen from Towson, Md

Even though I had no idea that almonds looked like that at harvesting time, it was the photos of those handsome men that sold me on today's story. :-)

Robyn Mixon

Much fun--and don't those almond trees have the most beautiful blossoms--they look like snowflakes in the air. Your men are indeed handsome--but then again, they have to match up to you and Jules. All the best!

Paul Froggatt

Hi Kristin

Are you a little early picking almonds? We're less than a 100k north of you but ours don't seem anywhere near ready.




The almonds in the hat look very much like olives on the tree. At least to this untrained American eye.

Enjoy your mom, Kristin! It gives your readers joy, as well.

Cynthia Lewis

What wonderful photos! Looks like you are all having a grand time. Thanks so much for this special treat. Best wishes to everyone.

Eileen deCamp

Hi Kristin,
I didn't know almonds looked like that either! I bet Guillaume liked your hug. :-)…Benjamin is cute! I love almonds plain but the sugared ones are delicious too! I love the scent of roasting almonds at the European Christmas markets.

jenifer Grant

We have lots of almond trees in Haiti, but no one harvests them. They just drop from trees. Available. I hadn't figured how to get them out of their shells - it looked like a lot of tedious work. But Petanque balls (or similar sized rocks) and pliers are certainly worth trying .

Marie La Salle

My partner and I listed a vacant house with a pecan tree...just as the nuts were ready to be harvested. We went over to clean one day and had the bright idea of throwing the broom up, up, into the tree to knock down a few pecans... ...the broom wedged in the tree. An hour later we finally threw another broom and knocked down the first one ... and a paltry few pecans. From then on we were ground harvesters.

gloria oleary

You guys just look like you are living life and having fun while doing it. Un vrai bon jour!


I mix almonds in a cold salad of tuna, chopped eggs, onions, and bell peppers for the crunch and the extra boost of protein. Sometimes I add them on top of a layered salad of radishes, zucchini strings (love that special tool that does that!), and numerous other salads. You've inspired me to look for more ways to use them!

Linda R.

fun photos and fine lesson - merci bien, Kristin. enjoy your mom and her visit for the next few days.


Love, love, LOVE all the pictures! You are so right to enjoy this time with your mom. Words can wait until she' leaves. I have never seen fresh almonds. How do you know when they are ripe? Do you ever make almond milk? Avez une belle journée!

Chris Allin

"A picture is worth a thousand words" ! A very clever way to tell your story, Kristin. Now I better understand the sugar coated almonds I learned about in France many years ago....white for weddings and pink and blue for baptisms, etc. I include almond meal when it in brother Jacque's French Yogurt Cake. And almond encrusted fish is yummy.
You could have just taken this time off during your mom's visit, so your
photo journals are much appreciated!

Kathleen from Connecticut


I love almonds many different ways. Ma vosine runs a test kitchen and uses almond paste for many recipes "".
You are becoming the the horticulturist. Unfortunately we have too many deer, rabbits and no flatland around my house to have a vegetable garden therefore all I can do is grow herbs on my deck and flowers and shrubs around the house, which constantly need spraying to de our age the animals from harvesting them...they love my garden salads.
Great pictures and a great looking guys!



Raw or roasted, almonds are delicious! I also love almond milk and almond butter, which, as Jeanne mentioned, can be made at home. I have yet to try making my own in a food processor. For now, I enjoy experimenting with making raw, gluten-free tart and pie pastry using almonds, dates, and coconut oil.

Is la frangipane similar to marzipan, at all?

p r

How old is Benjamin and is he available not for me but my daughter!

Faye Stampe, Gleneden Beach, OR

Thanks for the lovely & happy photos. Enjoy your mom!

Be well!

judi dunn

. Well... ALL the men were good looking and having fun and the women were beautiful too! We like our almonds roasted and lightly salted with a lovely Vodka tonic with extra lime! Cheers, a votre sante! Judi Dunn, Tallahassee, Fl.


I also love almonds, especially the ones my local green grocer sells: tamari flavoured. A veritable salty/sweet flavour burst!


Woooweeeeee (<--- since a wolf whistle isn't easily typed) That Benjamin has quite the, ahem, VMOs (vastus medialis obliquus - that charming muscle just above the knee on the inner aspect of the thigh). From the definition of this important (and attractive) muscle, I would've guessed he was a cyclist before a skier. Either way - un "aspirateur des gonzesses" ... is that how you taught us to say "chick magnet"? ;-)

Nancy, San Antonio, Texas

Looks like you all had a lot of fun and nobody hurt their ankles. I eat 12 raw almonds a day for the crunch, taste and healthy nutrients. Love them especially dipped in dark chocolate or as a paste in a croissant. I especially liked the use of your sun hat because I have a blue one and love it. Thanks for your fun post and sharing a great day with all of us. Nancy


Love it! I enjoyed every picture! Looks like a day well spent, and enjoyed!

Julia ~ Falling Off Bicycles

Handsome group and charming activity! Looks like fun.

Stacy ~ Sweet Life Farm

There is fun to be had by all (even your readers) via the almond harvest --- and good health to boot! Thanks for sharing the photos as the health benefits of smiles and happiness are many! Wow, what a crew :)

Speaking of this, Kristi, I don’t know that I’ve ever seen you look so radiantly happy, and therefore, more beautiful. Hugs to Jules. Enjoy!

Kitty Wilson-Pote

Thanks so much for sharing this joyous day with us very directly via photos, Kristi! The gang's joie de vivre is palpable across the globe, believe me! Until 2002, I'd never even considered that my beloved almonds actually grew on TREES! That summer, I visited California NW of Sacramento, and found the air filled for miles with the divine scent of almonds roasting ... huge almond farms there creating an atmosphere of heaven. May all harvesters have as much fun with their work as your happy crew here -- so suits the product and the delight it brings us along with its health benefits: double YUM.

Diane Young

I always loved the little animals carved out of almond paste that we found on our first trip to Switzerland - and still have them in their cellophone wrap after 29 years! Also like chopped almonds on top of a piece of pastry. Jules really hit the jackpot this year - quels bels hommes. JM has really trimmed down from all that hard work. Enjoy your Mom's visit.

edie schmidt


Your harvest looked like fun.We have a Christmas tradition of roasting almonds in the oven with good olive oil and salt.
You stir often and don't overcook!

Edie from Savannah

Kristin Espinasse

LOL! Thanks for your enthusiasm re the almond pickers. They were here in the south of France to ride their bikes, and we met them again in St Tropez (took Benjamin and Guillaume 4.5 hours to ride there from Bandol.) Aspirateurs de filles, indeed. (All four men are taken....)

Nyla Witmore

Your mother? I thought it was you. ( Your mother will be flattered...You?)

In the last photo, was that one of those French hats whose head place was used as a basket? I purchased one of those hats in Sarlat France and use it as a an artist outdoor painting chapeau. ...It rolls up for suitcase travel. Oh, and there are so many fashionable ways to wear it...all sides up, all down, ...up in front but down in back, ...or up on one side and down on the opposite side. Lots of compliments ensue. Maybe you could don the hat and give us a picture fashion and your mum, for the next "Word a day"?


Our dear Kristi,
What wonderful pictures!And what a happy,wonderful group! Looking at you all just makes my heart smile(and also remember younger days which,in retrospect,flew by way too fast!)
I have eaten a Pithivier;they are one of my favorites and I used to make them for our family.I bought the almond paste,though,since our grand mere and grand pere had walnut trees on their farm(instead of almond).In their cuisine they used a lot of ground walnuts in their desserts.
Seeing those nuts on the tree and then seeing(and doing) everything involved to get them from shell to table gave me such respect for all the work involved.
Enjoy every minute with beautiful Jules and please hug her (and everyone!) for me.
Natalia XO

Jo Maeder

I love fresh ground almond butter (with no other ingredients) slathered on a cold whole grain Newman's Own fig newton. I have 3 almost every morning.


Never had fresh almonds. Part of the daily diet is a handful of organic almonds from the grocery store. Yum-o!!!

sally vegso

Any ideas where to buy a green Colmar tshirt?

Suzanne Dunaway

Well, if I were your mother, I'd be kissing BOTH of those gorgeous men...
just kidding...
I make a chocolate flourless torte with almonds, dark chocolate, eggs and butter, no more.
Love them raw, grilled, and sprayed with water, then tossed with salt and sugar and grilled for salads.

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