Last year, I just missed the Fête des Vendanges. It ended the 9th of October. I arrived the 10th.
This year, there was no way I was going to miss this!
La Fête des Vendanges 2016
A “fête des vendanges” is a wine harvest festival. THE Fête des Vendanges is a wine harvest festival in Paris itself, in Montmartre. Because there’s a vineyard in Montmartre. Did you know that?
So this particular Fête isn’t just any wine-soaked fête, it’s a wine-soaked fête perched atop the highest point in Paris, surrounding the iconic Sacre Cœur and overlooking the rest of the city. So you can see why I was determined to go to this year’s event.
Many towns and regions have their own Wine Festivals, as you can imagine, being in France, the Land of Wine. Small or large, they consist of booth after booth hawking various wines, red, white, varietal blends, local specialties, etc. Intermixed are, of course, plenty of booths also selling delicious foodstuffs to help support your wine tasting.
Unfortunately, this year’s Fête fell on a complicated weekend, and we were in Ven-Danger of missing it. Again.
We were both sick, and exhausted from just moving into a new (temporary, furnished) apartment with a small and uncomfortable bed, leaving us both cranky. But on top of that, this was also the very same weekend as Paris’ Oktoberfest, yet another event that has been on my list since last year. And on top of that, it all happened to fall on the same weekend as a family birthday, resulting in an obligatory family gathering. We were down to just one day we could use to attend one event. Obviously we chose wine. Frenchman doesn’t like beer (I know. I know) and we’re so close to Munich we can practically smell the real Oktoberfest, so it just made more sense to pick the event that France is sure to do well. I’d rather go to the real Oktoberfest anyway! (Germany, get ready – l’Américaine is coming for you next September!)
Sunday, the very last day of the event, we made it up to Montmartre.
To be honest, though, we kind of screwed it up. With everything else going on, we didn’t plan ahead so we couldn’t reserve a spot on a tour of the vineyard, which is basically most of what I wanted to do (outside of just, you know, drinking). And seriously, when I say we were cranky, I mean we were craaaan-ky. Neither of us was particularly enthused with fighting through the crowds swarming the tiny hill streets, but eventually we found our way to the white-topped tents like a beacon in the
night day for a wine-o. Unsurprisingly, we both soon felt much, much better…
I got a commemorative wine tasting glass. It cost me 1.50€. It is plastic.
And yes, I was the only one of us drinking. I’ve already filed my complaint with the French Husband authorities. Mine appears to be defective.
We also found cooking demonstrations! We got to sample beautiful breads, cookies and other things being handed over as salesy chef guys schmoozed over their headsets. There were some entertaining guys that did a real, live cooking “show” preparing chicken and sweet potatoes and things. We didn’t stay long enough to get to try the samples they passed out (again, complaints are filed) but after those sandwiches I guess it wasn’t really necessary.
Once we had our fill of the Fête crowds, we worked our way out of the enclosed area and down the hill out of Montmartre. I haven’t mentioned, actually, that there was an enclosed section around the Basilica which you had to enter to access the tents. After the last year or so of horrible events, they did take additional security measures that did not exist before, as far as I understand. They also decided to cancel the fireworks display that was intended to cap off the weekend at the final party that Sunday night.
After all that wine and heavy cheese, most people would want a nap. Maybe a salad. But my Frenchman? He wants dessert.
So off we went on a walk (thankfully) to a patisserie/bookshop we’ve been meaning to check out for a few weeks now. Une Souris et Des Hommes became noteworthy in our house because we heard they make amazing, praline-filled, mouse-shaped treats. We’ve been trying to fit this place into our schedule for some time now, and this was the day! We were full of savory delights, we were in search of something sweet, and this little destination was about a 15-20 minute walk away. They also, fortunately, would have a bathroom, something we were certainly in need of after several hours out and a couple glasses of wine. Perfect.
We immediately zeroed in on our delightful souris and an accompanying majestic-looking chocolate thing, and rounded things out with some much-needed espresso. Sugar craving, satisfied.
From there, after a nice sit, we wandered through the 9ème arrondissement towards Opéra where we could take the metro home. It was a sensible choice to walk a bit after such a rich day, and we were lucky to get some last warm rays of fall sunshine before Paris falls into it’s grey-and-rainy fall/winter wardrobe.
All in all, a quality Sunday in Paris. I could’ve done without the crappy moods to start with, but melted cheese, wine, and mouse-shaped desserts seemed to turn things around.
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