Fete Des Vendages at The Last Vineyard in Paris

by MPI Traveler on October 9, 2013

fetedesvendages

Fête des Vendanges in Montmartre

Bacchus-Style Merriment at the Last Paris Vineyard

by Gail Boisclair

October 7, 2013

Every year there is a wonderful harvest festival that happens in Montmartre revolving around the vineyard on rue des Saules. Though grape vines flourished across the Paris region from Roman times to the 19th century, the Clos Montmartre is now the last surviving vineyard in the city. Covering just 1600 square metres, this vineyard was established in 1933, so this year marks its 80th anniversary.

Fete des VendangesOverseen by the Comité des Fêtes et d’Action Sociale(COFAS), the harvest of Gamay and Pinot Noir grapes produces about 1000 bottles of wine. Profits from the sale go directly back to the 18th arrondissement for social projects. A different artist designs the wine label and fête poster each year with a specific theme in mind. For 2013, it is all about love – 80 years of it! – so the cuvée is called ‘Cuvée de l’Amour’. The design was done by the fabulous Miss.Tic whose style is recognisable anywhere you go in Montmartre.

Held over the second weekend in October, the Fête des Vendanges lasts for several days with activities ranging from wine tastings, food exhibits, activities for children, music concerts, crafts and more. This year the festival runs from Wednesday, October 9 until Sunday, October 13. As many children do not have school on Wednesdays, this is always the Journée des Enfants (Children’s Day) with kid-friendly activities organised in the afternoon. The Mairie du 18e has a link to the full program in PDF format.

My favourite part of the festival is the parade, followed by a visit to the food and wine stands. You can sample their produce and, if you like something, you can buy it to take home. The parade will take place on Saturday, October 12 at 3 p.m. and starts at the Mairie du 18e, Place Jules Joffrin then ends at Place des Abbesses. Many different wine and champagne producers participate in the parade along with musicians playing French songs from days gone by. You’ll also see Capoeira dancing, and groups dressed in traditional dress. Representatives of the Republique Montmartre are easily visible in their traditional black capes and hats complemented by their red scarves.

We enjoy following the parade through the streets and picking up our friends along the way. Here’s a hint – have a glass in your hand so you can sample some of the different wines that will be poured as the parade moves through Montmartre! After the parade, we go up to Sacré-Coeur where all of the tasting tents for food and wine are set up. There is always a stand with bio (organic) products as well as several with cheese, charcuterie, honey, and jams.

Saturday evening will end with a bang thanks to fireworks at 9:45 p.m. by the foot of Sacré-Cœur – be sure to get there early if you want a good spot. Sunday is the day the festival winds down and there will be a free concert at La Cigale starting at 4 p.m. with Alain Chamfort performing.

If you are in Paris at the time of the festival, it is an event not to be missed. Cheers, and here’s hoping to see you for the wine harvest !

Gail Boisclair a transplanted Canadian who has been living in the Montmartre district of Paris since 2001. 

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