Girl with artichoke flower at Epicurium AvignonEpicurium is a fun and educational trip through the "life" of fruit and vegetables, from seed to supper table, via supermarket or greengrocer's stall. It might even have your kids asking for seconds of spinach.

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One of the most prestigious family attractions in the area, Epicurium also has the great advantage of being just outside Avignon, a ten-minute drive or short bus ride (see below for details) and near the airport.

The indoor and outdoor tour through this 8,000 square metre / 86,100 square foot park promises a "sensory immersion" in the world of fruit and vegetables, encouraging children to explore their colours, smells, sounds, feel and, of course, tastes.

For older kids, deeper questions are raised along the way, around nutritional value, organic gardening and farming, seasonality, distribution and food miles, different approaches to cooking around the world, preserving fruit (nearby Apt is famed for its candied fruit) and so on.

The indoor area has visual displays, mini-documentaries, poems and photographs as well as interactive games where children can, for example, try to guess a fruit or vegetable from its scent or its feel. The explanatory material is available in English.

The Garden at Epicurium AvignonOutside you can wander through a fruit tree orchard and kitchen garden stocked with herbs and plants, both traditional and new varieties.

They include all the provençal favourites such as olive, fig and almond trees, Cavaillon melons and the usual soft fruit.

But you'll also find less familiar ones like the jujube, which produces little orange date-like fruits (and, if it's anything like the one in the Insider's garden at home, has extremely thorny branches!)

There's also a greenhouse and a transparent beehive. You can visit the museum and outdoor gardens either with a guide or under your own steam, apart from the beehive, where visitors must be accompanied.

An unusual new addition in 2016: a "barefoot walk". This 40 metre / 44 yard long path has 14 sections with different kinds of mulch and ground covering.

Epicurium was created in 2010 by an organisation splendidly known as the European Fruit and Vegetable Cluster (it has since been renamed the snappier Terralia).

Its mission is to promote economic growth and innovation in South-East France. The départment of the Vaucluse is one of the country's largest fruit and veggie producers.

Epicurium also offers a programme of regular workshops. Kids can craft vegetable sculptures or paint fruit faces in the style of the 17th century artist Giuseppe Arcimboldo.

Epicurium Avignon MuseumA resident gardener is on hand to give tips, while the patron of the cooking workshops is the distinguished local chef Christian Etienne, so at least the food should be good.

Allow around an hour to 90 minutes for a visit, longer if you wish to take one of these classes or linger in the shady picnic area. Epicurium is closed in winter (November to April) but can open for groups by appointment.

Where: Epicurium, Cité de l'alimentation, rue Pierre Bayle, Montfavet, 84140 Avignon. Website for Epicurium

By car: From the A7, take the Avignon South exit. Epicurium is about 10 minutes from the motorway. From Avignon, take the N7 road past the Auchan Mistral 7 shopping mall and at the first roundabout turn left towards Montfavet. Then at the first traffic light turn right.

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By bus: no.4 from Avignon Centre station (stop: Halte Epicurium). Guide to public transport in Avignon

 

 

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