Did you know that under French law nothing can be built on a vineyard? It’s thanks to this neat little legal stipulation that Paris has its vineyard, the Clos de Montmartre. And without that vineyard October would not have its famous wine festival La Fete des Vendanges, making it a much less jovial time to be in Paris.
The short story (more details in an upcoming post) is that a group of artists back in the 1930s opposed a real estate project that was being planned for that block. A huge apartment building blocking that nice view… non merci, they said. So they banded together and created this vineyard, effectively killing the plan. I can’t think of a better way to do it, can you?
Since the first harvest in 1934, the Fete des Vendanges de Montmartre is celebrated annually when its vineyard’s wine is put up for sale (the second weekend of October every year). A different artist designs the posters and matching bottle labels each year… some are true works of art! You can definitely distinguish the modern from the antique.
Each year about 1000 bottles are put up for sale, at 50 € each. If that seems pricey, well… it is (the wine is only mediocre), UNTIL you realize the beautiful truth that 100% of the proceeds are donated to charities!
And if the grapes are on the hill of Montmartre, where exactly is the wine made, might you ask? Well that’s simple (to the French)… in the caves of the district town hall, of course! That’s where the famous Fete des Vendanges Parade begins, as well.
Participants in the parade include members of the various ‘confréries bachiques’ (wine brotherhoods), and chevaleries du tastevin (wine-tasting knighthoods), all in traditional dress.
Dancing clubs as well as musical groups also participate, banging a lively beat to the procession. It’s quite spectacular!
We even got to see the Queen of the Harvest (la Reine des Vendanges de Montmartre)!
The parade is always on the Saturday of the Fete des Vendanges (which usually runs from Thursday-Sunday of the second weekend in October) and I highly recommend seeing it if you are in town next year.
It was quite crowded right in front of the 18th district town hall, but further up the hill you could get some great unobstructed views of the parade.
Feel free to use the hill’s stairs as great vantage points!
Or your apartment, if you’re very lucky…
At the top of the hill by Sacre Coeur you’ll find all the tasty regional food (like tartiflette, raclette, fondue, charcuterie, paté, cheese) and wine you can eat.
Just be prepared for a bit of a crowd…