If you would like to see mature trees before deciding what to plant, visit an arboretum.
There are quite a few in France – some are private and only open by appointment but others are public spaces. Wikipedia has a list by department. It is by no means complete and some links don’t work but it will give you clues on how to find your nearest one.
The trees will be labelled and you can wander around ‘window shopping’. Seeing the trees will better allow you to visualise them, fully grown, in your garden in a way that no nursery can.
No matter where you live, there are likely to be events, exhibitions and markets centred around the cultivation of trees.
We have rounded up a few here for your diary.
November 1 to December 22 in the Perche regional park
In the regional park of the Perche, at Saint-Cyr-la-Rosière, on November 1 from 10:30 to 17:30 there will be a free Fête de l’Arbre et du Cidre.
It’s at the Ecomuséé du Perche Prieuré de Sainte-Gauburge where there is also – until December 22 – an exhibition of the work of Dominique Mansion: ‘Au bois des trognes, volumétries branchées’ (Trognes are pollarded willows).
Until November 5 in the forest of Orléans
If you are quick you can squeeze in a visit to L’Aboretum des Grandes Bruyères in the heart of the forest of Orléans.
They close after November 5 so hurry to see the autumn colours in this magnificent collection of trees. Entry is €12.50.
November 5 in Montvendre
Montvendre in the Drôme has a Foire aux Arbres from 09:00 until 18:00 on November 5 with 40 stalls selling ornamental and fruiting trees, shrubs and other plants. See online for more information.
This small town has a Zen garden; a copy of one in Kyoto dating from 1500. It is open from 10:00, and by appointment only for groups of 10+ (€3 pp).
The town’s Jardin des Sables is still worth a visit in November – the colours of the barks of the prunus, cornus acer and beech shine and their beautiful structure is revealed.
November 5 in the Gers
In Duran, in the Gers, the tree and its by-product (wood) are celebrated on November 5 from 9:00 to 18:00.
Organised by L’Association de Sauvegarde du Patrimoine (Preserve Our Heritage), entry is free.
There are walks and talks, storytelling and games. Nurseries are, of course, present but also woodworkers of all description: barrel makers, willow weavers, basketmakers, carvers, sculptors and luthiers.
November 11 in Vienne
Queaux, in Vienne, holds its Fête de l’Arbre et des Plantes on November 11 at the salle des fêtes and grounds.
There will be a tree and plant market, exhibitions (including the festival’s own photography contest – this year’s theme was water), storytelling for children, cakes, demonstrations and workshops with the Croquers de Pommes (juicers).
November 11 and 12 in Allier
Jenzat, in Allier, hosts a Fête des Arbres et des Rosiers every November, on the second weekend – this year it’s on the 11th from 13:30 until 17:30 and on the 12th from 9:00 until 17:00.
Your €3 ticket not only gives you entry but is also put into a draw for prizes.
Horticultural advice is available all weekend from les Jardiniers du Bourbonnais and Les Amis des Arbres de Vichy. More information on their website.
November 12 in the ‘Boucles de la Seine Normande’ regional park
The Fête de l’Arbre et de l’Automne at Caudebec-en-Caux/Rives-en-Seine is free to enter.
In this commune within the ‘Boucles de la Seine Normande’ regional park, the Jardin en Seine nursery will hold its annual event on November 12 selling bareroot and potted trees. Seasonal local products are available.
Mulled wine and crêpes will be sold to raise money for Téléthon.
Until November 15 at Château Harcourt, Normandy
Château Harcourt in Normandy has what is said to be the oldest arboretum in France.
Until November 15 you can enjoy their exhibition ‘Aux sons des arbres’ (The sounds of trees): four works by artist Will Menter, installations by José Le Piez and ‘Parcours sous hypnose’ podcasts by Marie Lisel, introducing you to three remarkable trees.
Menter’s sound sculptures can be played interactively or you can sit under a tree and let the wind create music for you.
Bring headphones for the podcasts. Admission is included in the chateau entry ticket. Open 14:00 to 18:00 except Tuesdays, €5. There is more information online.
November 18 and 19 in Gard
At Quissac, in Gard, they have been holding tree, plant and fruit weekends since 1986.
This year’s ‘Journées de l’Arbre, de la Plante et du Fruit’ are on November 18 and 19.
There are more than 180 exhibitors including nurserymen, producers, growers, craftspeople, specialist booksellers, associations and artists who will offer workshops, demonstrations, lectures, exhibitions (including one of varietal collections), tastings to promote the understanding of diversity, and children’s activities.
The stars of the show this year are kiwi and the whole of the squash/cucumber family but trees are still very important.
Entry is €4 or €6 for the two days. Under 12s get in for free. For more information visit their website.
November 18 and 19 in Pont-L’Evêque
Pont-L’Evêque, Normandy (twinned with Ottery St Mary in Devon) has its 34th Foire aux Arbres on November 18 and 19 from 9:00 to 18:00 each day in the covered market and the Parc du Bras d’or. Admission is free.
November 25 and 26 in Lozère
A newer event in Occitanie at Saint-Etienne-Vallée-Française, Lozère, is the second Fête de l’Arbre run by the Foyer Rural Le Ginestel and the Association Fruits Oubliés Cévennes (Forgotten Fruits of the Cevennes).
It will be held on November 25 and 26. ‘Free entry Saturday’ is all about vines finishing with a tasting and a showing of the film Vitis Prohibita, and Sunday features a market of fruiting plants.
November 26 in the Charente
At Montlieu-la-Garde, in the Charente, their Fête Autour de l’Arbre is on November 26 at the salle des fêtes from 10:00 to 18:00.
There will be a demonstration of grafting techniques by the Mémoire Fruitière des Charentes, the sale of local produce and crafts as well as storytelling for the children.
The Paris Arboretum is open every day
The Paris Arboretum is open every day from 9:00 to 17:00 in the 12th arrondisement. It covers 12 hectares and has 1,200 trees.
The central section is dedicated to conifers but, further out, you move into the oaks (green oak, weeping oak, Spanish or Pyrenean oak), limes and poplars.
The black Tupelo or gum tree turns a vivid scarlet in autumn. And there’s a Katsura, known as the caramel tree because not only do the leaves turn a burnt sugar colour but it smells of caramel too.
There are some rare and remarkable trees such as the Siberian elm and a blue ash.