In the heart of Paris, in the shadow of Sacré Coeur lies a very special secret garden, a vineyard in fact that still produces grapes to make wine. Linda Matthieu went to an annual festival in Paris that celebrates the wine produced from this tiny vineyard, an event known as Les Vendanges de Montmartre (the Montmartre Wine Festival)…
It all started back in 1934 when wine was made from the grapes produced in the Montmartre, Paris vineyard. The vineyards were bought back to life in 1933 having been left as wasteland for several years, a momentous occasion for the locals of Montmartre and the perfect opportunity for a celebration! The Montmartre Wine Festival takes place over a 5 day period and celebrates the arrival of the new vintage of Clos Montmartre wine that is produced from the grapes in this tiny vinyeard in the city.
Once home to thousands of acres of vineyards this is one of ten vineyards still in Paris and certainly the best known of them all. You can still see the small vineyard at the Butte Montmartre (Paris’ tallest hill and a district) which to this day produces grapes to make a modest 1,500 bottles of wine each year.
The plot is located at 14-18 rue des Saules (metro Lamarck-Caulaincourt) and is all that is left of the many vineyards which once covered Montmartre. The festival means holding a party and having a fun parade which starts with les Petits Poubots – children dressed in red and white striped pants. There are fraternal orders from the winegrowing regions of France in their traditional robes and quirky hats, a Harvest Queen, performers on stilts, wooden clogs from Burgundy and bands beating their drums like crazy.
I made it to the parade just as it was starting outside the Lamarck metro stop on a sunny Saturday afternoon. I loved all of the costumes, marvelled at the performers making their way up the steep hills on stilts and tapped my feet to the energetic drummers in the parade.
There are cultural events, artists exhibitions, theatrical performances, street music, dancing and fireworks in a full five days programme. It’s one of the most popular celebrations of local products and culture in Paris (you can see the full programme via the website below).
If you’re in Paris in October, check the dates of this fabulous festival in the centre of Paris and be sure to put it on your calendar – don’t miss the parade!
Website for the Vendanges de Montmartre
Read more about the Paris Vineyards
Linda Mathieu, a native Texan, lives in France with her French husband. She was a Paris Tour Guide and is the author of Secrets of a Paris Tour Guide, available at www.amazon.com.