You can sample all the variety and quality of Parisian gastronomy at the many mouth-watering events organised to mark the wine harvests, the arrival of Beaujolais Nouveau or Christmas. Markets, Fooding week, Harvest or Cookery festivals are some great occasions to please the palate in the company of Parisians.
Château-Charonne wine harvest
For 27 years now, on the second Saturday in September, the Mélac bistro organises the traditional Château-Charonne wine harvest. For the space of an afternoon, the rue Léon Frot is closed off to traffic and tables and chairs have place of honour to welcome crowds of curious visitors, come to admire the musical picking of the grapes, which are then pressed underfoot in a vat in the traditional way, and to sample cheeses and cold meats washed down with a glass of wine. This event is open to all, drawing local residents, natives of the Aveyron region settled in the French capital and visitors from abroad, keen to explore an authentic and appealing side of Paris.
Bistrot Mélac 42 rue Léon Frot (11e) 01 43 70 59 27. Melac
Montmartre wine harvest
Since 1934, the Montmartre harvest festival celebrates the arrival of the wines drawn from the vines of this renowned district. During the second weekend in October, they are an occasion for much merry-making, featuring a popular parade and an evening of music, with stalls, wine producers, traditional folklore, musicians and performers who communicate the festive spirit of Montmartre to all-comers. Fête des vendanges de Montmartre
Le Beaujolais nouveau
On the third Thursday of November, the arrival of Beaujolais nouveau wine is celebrated in Paris, throughout France and nowadays, all over the world. All the city’s cafés and bistros join in the traditional fun, selling the new wine by the glass or by the bottle, and Parisians and visitors are delighted to exchange their impressions of the latest vintage. Growing numbers of establishments jump on the bandwagon by organising entertaining evenings including tasting of cold meats, countrified decor and popular music. If you’re passing through Paris at that time of year, enjoy a taste of the new Beaujolais and join in the Parisian festivities.
To introduce the general public to a new, more creative and infinitely more trendy approach to cooking: this is the aim of the Semaine du Fooding (a combination of food and feeling) for the seventh year running. In November, this initiative includes outdoor culinary performances, open to all and eminently affordable: open-air palace in the Village Saint-Paul (4th), ephemeral restaurant, etc. Come along and meet the top chefs and sample their latest creations in the company of increasing numbers of Parisians attracted to this tasteful event!
La Fête des cuisines
Parisians are rediscovering the pleasure of cooking and invite you to join them on the first weekend in October to celebrate the Fête des cuisines. A convivial moment to share around a good home-made dish, this event features tastings, recipe competitions, gourmet demonstrations by the experts, cookery workshops and Open Days in catering colleges or local associations dotted throughout Paris.
All year round, Paris hosts a number of markets where producers from all over France come to present their regional specialities, from the south-west, Aveyron, Champagne, Brittany and Alsace etc. The same is true during the Christmas season when most of Paris’s arrondissements boast a seasonal market with a combination of gifts and gastronomy. Parisians love to browse here for a breath of the outdoors and some genuine country produce. Many of the city’s residents are originally from these different regions of France, so they won’t be slow to sing the praises of these typical titbits. Enough to make any discussion with the stallholders a lively affair!
Worth noting: at the rue Mouffetard market, in front of the St Médard church (5th) (M° Censier Daubenton), on Sunday mornings from 11am to 1.30pm (except in August), you can sing well-known French songs to the accompaniment of an accordion. No matter if you don’t know the words: song sheets are available.