Do you know that it’s possible to sip on the fine wine made of grapes grown in a Parisian vineyard? Not many people are aware of this oddity despite that there are five vineyards in the French capital. If you’re going to be in Paris between October 11th and 15th, you may consider going to Montmartre to join in the celebration of its 84th wine festival. Here is some information about this unique event:
One of Montmartre’s vineyards, which is called “Clos Montmartre”, has a very unusual history: Montmartre used to be a hill outside of Paris, and for many centuries it was partly covered with vineyards. Unfortunately, by the beginning of the 20th century, the vineyards were gone and had been replaced by houses and buildings. In 1933, the City of Paris decided to have some constructions built on the wasteland it owned at the corner of rue Saint-Vincent and rue des Saules. The plan was eventually abandoned due to the opposition of local residents. Instead, the association “Le Vieux Montmartre” was allowed to create a vineyard where the wasteland was. This was a true challenge as the land was facing the North and was unable to be exposed to enough sunshine, but somehow the vineyard survived and in 1934 the first “Fete des Vendanges” was organised there, and it has been celebrated every 2nd week of October ever since.
This harvest festival is extremely famed and captivating. For a period of 5 days, Montmartre will be exceedingly flourishing owing to the concerts, special events, exhibitions, organised visits and even balls that are going to be held over there. One of the special events is “Parcours du Goût” which invites you to taste local food. Moreover, Portugal will be the honoured guest of this year and it will bring you specialties from 5 Portuguese regions. On Thursday, October 12th, you can immerse yourself in the traditional Portuguese singing (Fado concert) at the theatre “Les Trois Baudets”. http://www.lestroisbaudets.com/spectacle/fetes-des-vendanges-lumieres-et-vins-du-portugal/
Traditionally, the “ban des vendanges” is supposed to be the opening of a grape harvest. In Montmartre, the grapes are harvested in September, but there is still a “Ban des Vendanges” during the festivities. It will take place on Saturday, Oct.14th at 10 am at the vineyard. Unfortunately, you can only participate if you are one of the lucky ones who got invited. Otherwise, you still can appreciate the incredibly colourful parade that follows the “Ban des Vendanges” which starts at Clos Montmartre at 11.45 am and finishes at Place Jules Joffrin at 1 pm. You’ll be able to see the members of the République de Montmartre with their long black capes, black hats, and red scarves. Among them are ministers, ambassadors, and of course the president. The “Petits Poulbots” is another local tradition, a drummer group made of young Montmartre inhabitants. The people wearing long capes and holding a banner are “Confréries”, associations of people who have a common interest. Usually, there are also Batucada groups (Brazilian drums) and Bagads (Celtic music) groups from Britanny. This year, Tuna, a group of Portuguese students who pay for their studies by playing music, will participate the event as well. Majorettes (some sort of cheerleaders) and many other surprises are waiting for you!
As for the wine “Clos Montmartre”, let’s be honest, it used to be criticised as “not worth drinking”. Thanks to some enologists, the vineyard experienced positive evolution afterwards. Nowadays, this Parisian wine is said to be “decent”. Clos Montmartre is a small vineyard of less than 2000 square meters, and its usual production varies from 1000 to 2000 bottles a year. The Syndicat d’Initiative of Montmartre has them in the store all year round, and you can also buy one at 50 euros a bottle from their site: https://www.comitedesfetesdemontmartre.com/?p=21.