Thursday, October 10, 2013

You're Invited: Olive-Picking Party Nov 1st

My travel-planning clients, visitors and blog readers often ask me where they can experience traditional farming and artisinal food production here in Provence. The wine-grape harvest is now behind us and the olive harvest (and the pressing of olives for oil) is next. If you want to be part of it, here's a fun way.  

On Friday November 1st, Lisa and Johann Pepin will host an olive picking party at their truffle and olive farm Les Pastras. It's in the Southern Luberon, just outside Cadenet, about 40 minutes north of Aix. (Lisa is from Wisconsin, Johann is French and you can learn more about them here.)

The plan for the day is:

10 am to 1 pm: Traditional olive picking (by hand) in the autumn sun.

1 pm to 3 pm: Hearty Provencal lunch with local wines. On the menu: traditional slow-cooked daube (beef stew), saffron potatoes au gratin and ratatouille, an assortment of regional cheeses, an assortment of desserts and beverages (wine, coffee, tea, water).

3 pm to 5 pm: Afternoon olive picking.

5 pm: Celebratory Champagne aperitif.

The cost is 50€ per person and only eight places are available. For more info or to reserve:, +33 (0)

Photos: (1) Olive picking, back in the day. Today it looks much the same at Les Pastras, except the outfits tend to be snappier.  (2) Curt Torgerson--an American living in Aix--and his son, Nils, loved helping with the harvest in 2011 and 2012. (3) The fruits of their labor. (4) The Pepin's pretty dining room, where you'll have lunch. (5 & 6) On the menu: traditional daube and potatoes gratin. [Photos courtesy of The Worldwide Gourmet and 30 Meals in One Day.] (7) Lisa and Johann: Franco-American Gothic.  (8) A selection of Les Pastras oils. Fifty percent of the profits from their olive products go to the OneFamily orphanage in Haiti. So you'll be working hard, having fun, eating well and doing good all at once. Not bad for 50€! 

*Note: If you have olive trees and need help with the harvest...or feel like helping someone pick...leave a comment (under ''comments'' below) along with your location and a way to reach you. 


  1. Julie, this is sooo interesting. I'm an olive oil lover and collector and this olive-farm-experience package means so much to me. Too bad my work schedule is full to the brim... it's hard to get vacation days in the middle of a critical-deadline project. But I will follow the parts coming up in your blog and will keep my eye open for other events of this nature, in the future. (When in Luberon, I usually stay in a cottage in Lourmarin or Lauris. Cadenet is just around the corner...)
    Have a great weekend!!

  2. Olive picking is hard work! But, a lunch, good company and an opportunity to learn about our food's provenance will make the trip worthwhile for someone.

  3. Olive picking is easy work compared to grape picking! The lunch idea is great, although I hope they can get the group back to the trees after lunch. Thanks for sharing Julie!

  4. I know that the lunch will be fabulous, but a €50 fee paid by the picker? I'd work for food anytime, but ?????? Am I missing something here?

  5. This is only an hour away from me! It's something I'd love to do but I have to agree with Richard, €50 is a little steep considering I'd be picking.

  6. Julie, I look forward to meeting you - this event sounds fantastique! Merci bien.

  7. So wishing we were there to join in Julie! Love olive harvests and gorgeous Cadenet. Wonderful that it sounds like some of the proceeds go to a project in Haiti. Next year, j'espere!

  8. I wish I was in France and not Belfast right now as we would love this, we spent all summer trying to get work on farms campsites etc paint in decorating as my husband is a tradesman but no work we has to come home. We wish you all the best and hope you have a great time it sounds wonderful Beverley