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Wine Harvest Festival in Montmartre (Fête des vendanges)

October 11, 2010

Well we got our summer back this weekend in Paris! What fabulous weather and no better way to celebrate than to turn out with the crowds to celebrate the wine harvest in Montmartre.
Lots of festive events taking place, starting midweek with visits to the little vineyard “Le Clos de Montmartre”, (501 litres produced in 2009, 1003 bottles); open days for various local organisations such as artist workshops, lots of activities for the kids, and this being France, plenty of stands showcasing much of the regional food and wine that France has to offer, with free tastings of course.
Running though Saturday afternoon, a parade by winegrowers from many regions of France took place winding though the streets of Montmartre, watched by hundreds of people and accompanied by pulsating drums and bands of all varieties. One adventurous bunch even did their own barbecue whilst tasking part in the parade – see the pictures and video below: it smelled good!!!

We also paid a little visit to a little haven of biodiversity, the shared gardens, “Jardins du Ruisseau” who were having an open day on Saturday. They even have their very own vine, although fairly recent – last year was their proud first production which amounted to 1 bottle of vinegar, but they have great plans to get bigger if they can …They use the same grape variety grown in the Fronton region near Toulouse “la negrette” and are hoping to persuade a SW co-operative to take their production and make into wine worthy of note.
Based alongside an old disused railway line not far from the tourist frequented Flea markets at St Ouen, the gardens are a collective effort by local associations and schools to provide communal gardens where local people can go and sit, participate in the gardening itself, or indeed be educated as to various methods and above all to have an understanding of the ecological importance on maintaining a diversity of life even in a city location. To this end they encourage the local wildlife and shelter several hedgehogs and have a section given over to beehives. The gardens also house a huge pile of old wine barrels where the rainwater falling on the surrounding houses is collected and used for watering the gardens. The guy at the entrance assured me that anyone was welcome and could wander through the garden as long as a member was already present. The keys are kept in various neighbourhood bars and cafes it would seem.

There are many wine harvest festivals held every year all across France and lasting from mid September though end of October depending on the region. Last year we enjoyed a very special beach party to celebrate the Banyuls (a sort of French version of port wine) where the harvest is brought in by boat to the main town beach. All the locals and anyone else who happens to be around takes part in an enormous picnic or barbecue with lashings of wine to wash it all down with followed by the inevitable music and dancing outside later in the evening… lots of fun so make sure you get there to take part next year. (it was also this weekend in 2010 so we couldn’t be in two places at once unfortunately)

If you are lucky enough to make it to France in the next week or so then here is a couple of those festivals still to take place :

23 Oct. 2010 – 24 Oct. 2010 Fête des vins de Chablis
Contact : office de Chablis, Mme Pagès – Tel : +33 (0)3 86 42 42 22

17 Oct. 2010 – 24 Oct. 2010 Les Automnales du Pic Saint Loup
Languedoc Roussillon > Saint-Jean-de-Cuculles
Contact : Communauté des communes du Grand Pic Saint Loup – Tel : +33 (0)4 67 55 17 00

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